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Posts Tagged ‘Psychology’

Greed – The Root of All Evil

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on May 7, 2009


How greed outstripped need

greedevilAmerican culture set us up for the economic fall, psychologists say.

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2009/01/consumerism.html

As the world slipped into economic meltdown, the nation started talking about greed: greedy lenders, greedy Wall Street executives, greedy CEOs and greedy Americans who used credit to finance untenable lifestyles.

Greed may very well have driven much of the economic crisis, says University of Rochester social psychologist Richard Ryan, PhD. But does the blame fall on the individual, or on our increasingly materialistic culture?

“America has an economic system set up to create the kind of mess we’ve seen recently,” says social psychologist Tim Kasser, PhD, of Knox College in Galesburg, Ill. “Our form of capitalism encourages materialistic values, and the research shows that people high on materialism … are more likely to engage in unethical business behaviors and manipulate people for their own purposes.”

In fact, American corporate capitalism—the highly competitive economic system embraced by the United States as well as England, Australia and Canada—encourages materialism more than other forms of capitalism, according to a study by Hebrew University of Jerusalem psychologist Shalom Schwartz, PhD. He compared the values held by people in countries with more competitive forms of capitalism with the values of folks in countries that have a more cooperative style of capitalism, including Austria, Germany and Norway. These countries rely more on strategic cooperation among the various players in the economy and society to solve their economic problems, such as unemployment, labor and trade issues, rather than relying mostly on free-market competition as the United States does.

As expected, citizens who live in more competitive free market systems cared more about money, power and achievement than people who live under more cooperative systems. Research also supports the notion that the more people care about money and power, the less they care about community and relationships. A study by Kasser, University of Victoria psychologist Fred Grouzet, PhD, and colleagues, for example, asked students in 15 countries about the goals they value most, including community feeling, financial success and physical health. They found they could chart those values onto a kind of pie with some values—money versus community and relationships, for example—in direct competition with each other.

“Of course we can care about community and money,” Kasser. “But as money becomes important—the bigger its slice of the pie—the desire to help other people tends to become less important.”

University of Minnesota psychologist Katherine Vohs, PhD, demonstrated this idea in a series of studies in which she primed participants to think about having large amounts of money. Compared with a group of students who were primed to think about neutral concepts or insufficient funds, participants with wealth on their minds were less helpful at, for example, picking up spilled pencils, and were less generous, for instance, donating less to charity. These participants were also more insular, choosing to sit farther away from a colleague or work independently rather than in a team.

Money and community are inherently incompatible because they tap into two fundamentally different motivational systems, says Kasser. Helping the community and forming personal relationships satisfy intrinsic psychological needs while financial success satisfies extrinsic needs of rewards and praise.

And for those motivated by rewards, America’s corporate incentive system may even encourage unethical behavior, says Ryan. Investment banks, mortgage companies and other industries that fueled the economic downturn reward employees for specific outcomes—say, selling more mortgages or obtaining high quarterly profits—rather than other aspects of job performance. Research shows that the people who are offered these types of rewards take the shortest route to reach their goal, whether it’s ethical or not, Ryan says.

“Rather than rewarding good practices, we’ve been rewarding outcomes, however they’re attained,” says Ryan. “And that’s driven a lot of greedy behavior from folks who wouldn’t normally act that way.”

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Posted in Psychology | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Importance Of Sleep

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on October 27, 2008

 

Source: American Psychological Association (APA)

 

Sleep is essential for a person’s health and wellbeing, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) of America. Yet millions of people do not get enough sleep and many suffer from lack of sleep. For example, surveys conducted by the NSF reveal that at least 40 million Americans suffer from over 70 different sleep disorders and 60 percent of adults report having sleep problems a few nights a week or more. Most of those with these problems go undiagnosed and untreated. In addition, more than 40 percent of adults experience daytime sleepiness severe enough to interfere with their daily activities at least a few days each month – with 20 percent reporting problem sleepiness a few days a week or more. Furthermore, 69 percent of children experience one or more sleep problems a few nights or more during a week.

What are the signs of excessive sleepiness?

According to psychologist and sleep expert David F. Dinges, Ph.D., of the Division of Sleep and Chronobiology and Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, irritability, moodiness and disinhibition are some of the first signs a person experiences from lack of sleep. If a sleep-deprived person doesn’t sleep after the initial signs, said Dinges, the person may then start to experience apathy, slowed speech and flattened emotional responses, impaired memory and an inability to be novel or multitask. As a person gets to the point of falling asleep, he or she will fall into micro sleeps(5-10 seconds) that cause lapses in attention, nod off while doing an activity like driving or reading and then finally experience hypnagogic hallucinations, the beginning of REM sleep. (Dinges, Sleep, Sleepiness and Performance, 1991)

Amount of sleep needed

Everyone’s individual sleep needs vary. In general, most healthy adults are built for 16 hours of wakefulness and need an average of eight hours of sleep a night. However, some individuals are able to function without sleepiness or drowsiness after as little as six hours of sleep. Others can’t perform at their peak unless they’ve slept ten hours. And, contrary to common myth, the need for sleep doesn’t decline with age but the ability to sleep for six to eight hours at one time may be reduced. (Van Dongen & Dinges, Principles & Practice of Sleep Medicine, 2000)

What causes sleep problems?

Psychologists and other scientists who study the causes of sleep disorders have shown that such problems can directly or indirectly be tied to abnormalities in the following systems:

Physiological systems

  • Brain and nervous system
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Metabolic functions
  • Immune system

Furthermore, unhealthy conditions, disorders and diseases can also cause sleep problems, including:

  • Pathological sleepiness, insomnia and accidents
  • Hypertension and elevated cardiovascular risks (MI, stroke)
  • Emotional disorders (depression, bipolar disorder)
  • Obesity; metabolic syndrome and diabetes
  • Alcohol and drug abuse

 

Groups that are at particular risk for sleep deprivation include night shift workers, physicians (average sleep = 6.5 hours a day; residents = 5 hours a day), truck drivers, parents and teenagers. (American Academy of Sleep Medicine and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Working Group on Problem Sleepiness.

How environment and behavior affect a person’s sleep

Stress is the number one cause of short-term sleeping difficulties, according to sleep experts. Common triggers include school- or job-related pressures, a family or marriage problem and a serious illness or death in the family. Usually the sleep problem disappears when the stressful situation passes. However, if short-term sleep problems such as insomnia aren’t managed properly from the beginning, they can persist long after the original stress has passed.

Drinking alcohol or beverages containing caffeine in the afternoon or evening, exercising close to bedtime, following an irregular morning and nighttime schedule, and working or doing other mentally intense activities right before or after getting into bed can disrupt sleep.

If you are among the 20 percent of employees in the United States who are shift workers, sleep may be particularly elusive. Shift work forces you to try to sleep when activities around you – and your own “biological rhythms” – signal you to be awake. One study shows that shift workers are two to five times more likely than employees with regular, daytime hours to fall asleep on the job.

Traveling also disrupts sleep, especially jet lag and traveling across several time zones. This can upset your biological or “circadian” rhythms.

Environmental factors such as a room that’s too hot or cold, too noisy or too brightly lit can be a barrier to sound sleep. And interruptions from children or other family members can also disrupt sleep. Other influences to pay attention to are the comfort and size of your bed and the habits of your sleep partner. If you have to lie beside someone who has different sleep preferences, snores, can’t fall or stay asleep, or has other sleep difficulties, it often becomes your problem too!

Having a 24/7 lifestyle can also interrupt regular sleep patterns: the global economy that includes round the clock industries working to beat the competition; widespread use of nonstop automated systems to communicate and an increase in shift work makes for sleeping at regular times difficult.

How to get a good night sleep

According to sleep researchers, a night’s sleep is divided into five continually shifting stages, defined by types of brain waves that reflect either lighter or deeper sleep. Toward morning, there is an increase in rapid eye movement, or REM sleep, when the muscles are relaxed and dreaming occurs, and recent memories may be consolidated in the brain. The experts say that hitting a snooze alarm over and over again to wake up is not the best way to feel rested. “The restorative value of rest is diminished, especially when the increments are short,” said psychologist Edward Stepanski, PhD who has studied sleep fragmentation at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. This on and off again effect of dozing and waking causes shifts in the brain-wave patterns. Sleep-deprived snooze-button addicts are likely to shorten their quota of REM sleep, impairing their mental functioning during the day. (New York Times, October 12, 2004)

Certain therapies, like cognitive behavioral therapy teach people how to recognize and change patterns of thought and behavior to solve their problems. Recently this type of therapy has been shown to be very effective in getting people to fall asleep and conquer insomnia.

According to a study published in the October 2004 issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine, cognitive behavior therapy is more effective and lasts longer than a widely used sleeping pill, Ambien, in reducing insomnia. The study involved 63 healthy people with insomnia who were randomly assigned to receive Ambien, the cognitive behavior therapy, both or a placebo. The patients in the therapy group received five 30-minute sessions over six weeks. They were given daily exercises to “recognize, challenge and change stress-inducing” thoughts and were taught techniques, like delaying bedtime or getting up to read if they were unable to fall asleep after 20 minutes. The patients taking Ambien were on a full dose for a month and then were weaned off the drug. At three weeks, 44 percent of the patients receiving the therapy and those receiving the combination therapy and pills fell asleep faster compared to 29 percent of the patients taking only the sleeping pills. Two weeks after all the treatment was over, the patients receiving the therapy fell asleep in half the time it took before the study and only 17 percent of the patients taking the sleeping pills fell asleep in half the time. (New York Times, October 5, 2004)

According to leading sleep researchers, there are techniques to combat common sleep problems:

  • Keep a regular sleep/wake schedule
  • Don’t drink or eat caffeine four to six hours before bed and minimize daytime use
  • Don’t smoke, especially near bedtime or if you awake in the night
  • Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before sleep
  • Get regular exercise
  • Minimize noise, light and excessive hot and cold temperatures where you sleep
  • Develop a regular bed time and go to bed at the same time each night
  • Try and wake up without an alarm clock
  • Attempt to go to bed earlier every night for certain period; this will ensure that you’re getting enough sleep

 

 

 

Posted in Psychology | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Yes We Can…

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on October 17, 2008

…Learn From Dogs!

 

Presence, Unconditionality, Acceptance and Connection

http://www.psychologytoday.com/

Lock a dog in a closet for three days and, when you let him out, he’s overjoyed to see you. He’s overjoyed not because you let him out, but just because you’re there. A dog has no sense of time. He can’t get trapped in the past or lost in the future. He is right here, right now, fully, completely and without quarter — always. Were that it were so easy for us to be the same.

A dog is present. He lives for this moment, and this moment alone. He responds to what is around him, yet understand consequences. Without the burden of memory or prescience, he does not – cannot — become imprisoned by his history or his future. We struggle with this, because we think.

I am sitting in front of my laptop right now typing this article, yet my mind is in a thousand other places. I am thinking about this, that and the other thing. I am roiling in regret about things not said and deeds both done and undone. I am planning. I am rehearsing. I am suffering. I am rejoicing. I am here, but I am not here. A dog is mindful. We tend to be full of mind.

A dog’s allegiance is unconditional. We won’t go so far as to anthropomorphize him, and say his love is unconditional – but it is clear his allegiance is indeed that. He comes when he’s called. He walks next to you off-leash. He looks over his shoulder to see that you’re coming as you follow him down a wooded path, and sometimes even waits for you to catch up. He has no agenda other than maintaining his connection to you.

Our attention is often divided. We are here, but not here and, so, our allegiance is also divided. We are married, yet we cheat. We are invested, yet we tell half-truths. We are committed, but the grass is always greener. We speak, but we do not listen. We know, but we do not feel. We are just not there.

A dog’s acceptance never wavers. He takes you as you are, with all of your flaws and imperfections, your idiosyncrasies and your nonsense. He recognizes your basic goodness and revels in you for you, giving himself over to you 100% and never questioning that choice.

All too often we judge. We are more apt to think and re-think than to hold space. We do not trust. We are suspicious. We assume an agenda on the part of others because we ourselves are operating with an agenda. The failure of relationship that we have with ourselves causes a failure of relationship to those around us. We create our own disconnection.

Presence, unconditionality and acceptance in concert lead us to connection. Setting aside the filters of attachment to past and future, the divided mind and our tendency to judge provide us with a stage for establishing true community and true connection that is based in our own authentic relationship to ourselves.

Love yourself like your dog loves you, and settle into the pure unfettered joy of the sense of community that creates, then take it outside yourself and into the world. Think like a dog.

Posted in Love, Psychology | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Seeing Race And Seeming Racist

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on October 10, 2008

 

 

Whites go out of their way to avoid talking about race

Efforts to appear unbiased lead to misunderstandings between the races, studies find

http://www.apa.org/ 6-Oct-2008

White people – including children as young as 10 — may avoid talking about race so as not to appear prejudiced, according to new research. But that approach often backfires as blacks tend to view this “colorblind” approach as evidence of prejudice, especially when race is clearly relevant.

These results are from two separate sets of experiments led by researchers from Tufts University and Harvard Business School. Their findings are reported in the October issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and the September issue of Developmental Psychology. Both journals are published by the American Psychological Association.

“Efforts to talk about race are fraught with the potential for misunderstandings,” said the studies’ lead author, Evan Apfelbaum, a PhD candidate at Tufts University. “One way that whites try to appear unbiased is to avoid talking about race altogether, a tendency we refer to as strategic colorblindness.”

In one study, 101 white undergraduate students were paired with either a white or black female partner who pretended to be another participant. The pairs were presented with 30 photographs of faces that varied in race, gender and background color. Each white participant’s objective was to guess which of the photographs the partner was holding by asking as few yes-or-no questions as possible.

Even though asking about the race of the person in the photograph was a sound strategy for completing the task, white participants were far less likely to do so with a black versus a white partner. Moreover, when the black partner was the first one to have a turn asking questions, whether she mentioned race had a dramatic effect. White participants whose black partner asked about race mentioned race on their own turn 95 percent of the time. When the black partner never asked about race, white participants only did so 10 percent of the time.

“There was clear evidence the white participants’ behavior was influenced by the precedent set by their partner, but especially when that partner was black,” said Samuel Sommers, assistant professor at Tufts and co-author of both papers. “Whites are strategically avoiding the topic of race because they’re worried that they’ll look bad if they admit they notice it in other people.”

The researchers also wanted to see how outsiders interpreted such interactions. In another experiment, 74 black and white college students evaluated videos of whites engaging in the photo task. The results showed that whites’ effort to appear colorblind backfired. Black observers rated whites’ avoidance of asking about race as being evidence of prejudice. What’s more, when the researchers showed silent video clips of whites from the study to another group of individuals, those whites who avoided asking about race were judged as less friendly, just on the basis of their nonverbal behavior.

“The findings suggest that when race is clearly relevant, whites who think that it is a wise social strategy to avoid talking about race should think again,” said Apfelbaum.

Even children appear to adopt this strategically colorblind approach. In another set of experiments, 101 white children between the ages of 8 and 11 were asked to perform a similar photo task. The children were told that asking as few yes-or-no questions as possible would mean they would get a higher score on the task.

The results showed that the older children, ages 10 and 11, avoided asking about race more than the younger children, even though this led them to perform less efficiently than their younger counterparts on the task. In a control version where all the faces in the photos were white, the older children outperformed the younger children, as expected. “This result is fascinating because it shows that children as young as 10 feel the need to try to avoid appearing prejudiced, even if doing so leads them to perform poorly on a basic cognitive test,” said Kristin Pauker, a PhD candidate at Tufts and co-author of this study.

The authors associated with both studies said their findings offer several important implications. “Our findings don’t suggest that individuals who avoid talking about race are racists,” Apfelbaum explained. “On the contrary, most are well-intentioned people who earnestly believe that colorblindness is the culturally sensitive way to interact. But, as we’ve shown, bending over backward to avoid even mentioning race sometimes creates more interpersonal problems than it solves.”

Posted in Ethnicity, Genetics & Anthropology | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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