How Useful Is Fear? Franklin D. Roosevelt no doubt meant to be soothing when he insisted, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” A quick and terrifying tour through the academic literature on fear, though, reveals just … Continue reading The evolution of fear
Human nature matters A strange thing is happening in modern philosophy: many philosophers don’t seem to believe that there is such a thing as human nature. What makes this strange is that, not only does the new attitude run counter … Continue reading What makes humans tick
Choosing partners or rivals If you’re an optimist, you probably believe that humanity is inherently cooperative and willing to sacrifice for the greater good of all. If you’re a pessimist, chances are you believe that, in the end, people will … Continue reading Direct reciprocity
Scientists have an intriguing new theory about our eyebrows and foreheads If you were to run into our ancient ancestor Homo heidelbergensis on the street, the first thing you might notice is their small forehead and heavy brow. You and … Continue reading Do eyebrows tell the truth?
Poverty and the Developing Brain People love “Rags to Riches” stories—those sanguine tales in which someone who grew up in poverty manages to become extremely wealthy and professionally successful. These stories breathe life into the American Dream, inspire hope, and … Continue reading Does poverty shrink hippocampus?
Reciprocation Bias If you are like me, whenever receiving a favor, you too feel an immense need, almost an obligation, to pay it back in kind. If a friend invites you over for dinner, you are almost sure to invite … Continue reading The reciprocity tendency
Rationalizing the “Irrational” Economists are famous for attempting to rationalize seemingly irrational behavior. One of the more extraordinary is Gary Becker and Kevin Murphy’s theory of rational addiction, in which they hypothesized that addicts plan their consumption of addictive goods. … Continue reading Misunderstanding irrationality