Author Interviews, Education, Social Issues / 22.12.2017 Interview with: “working class” by arileu is licensed under CC BY 2.0Igor Grossmann, Ph.D. Director, Wisdom and Culture Laboratory Associate Professor of Psychology University of Waterloo, Canada Associate Editor, Emotion What is the background for this study? Response: Our Wisdom & Culture laboratory studies the concepts of wisdom and cultural factors. For wisdom, we specifically focus on pragmatic reasoning that can help people to better understand and navigate uncertain contexts – strategies that philosophers for millennia discussed as “epistemic virtues.” In our prior work, my colleagues and I have observed that wisdom tends to be lower in situations when self-interests are salient, and higher when one adopted an socially-sensitive interdependent mindset. In other work by myself and several other labs, consistent finding emerged showing that lower social class tends to be more socially interdependent, whereas middle class (both in the US, Russia, and even China) tends to be more self-focused. This led to the present research, which combines prior insights to examine how wise reasoning varies across social classes. Because lower class situation involves more uncertainty and more resource-scare life circumstances, we questioned whether these situations would also evoke more wise reasoning from people who are in them. Higher class situations are assumed to provide conditions that benefit people in every way. But in so doing, they may also encourage entitlement, self-focus and thereby intellectual humility and open-mindedness – key features of a wise thought. As such, our studies show that it turns out that middle class conditions are not beneficial in at least one way – they may discourage reasoning wisely. (more…)
Author Interviews, Psychological Science / 31.07.2017 Interview with: Jared Friedman Doctoral Student, Organizational Behavior Research Assistant II, Brain Mind and Consciousness Lab Case Western Reserve University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: These studies were motivated by our prior work in neuroscience and psychology.  Neuroscience research from our lab has shown that brain areas associated with empathy seem to share a ‘see-saw’ relationship with brain areas associated with analytic reasoning.  As activity in one set of brain areas goes up, activity in the other set of brain areas tends to go down.  This suggests there is a sort of neural antagonism between warm, empathic sorts of thinking on the one hand, and cold, analytic sorts of thinking on the other. In prior psychological work, we tested the hypothesis that these two different sorts of thinking might share opposing relationships to religious belief.  Over a series of 8 studies, we showed that although religious belief is negatively related to analytic reasoning skills (which many other labs had shown), it shares a much stronger positive relationship to measures of empathy and moral concern.  This suggests that religious belief, measured on a continuum, might emerge from the tension between empathic and analytic forms of thinking. The current studies expanded on this prior work by examining how dogmatism – strongly holding onto one’s beliefs, even in the face of contradictory evidence – relates to measures of moral concern and analytic reasoning among individuals identifying as religious and non-religious.  The measure of dogmatism we used is neutral with respect to any particular belief system, which means that it measures dogmatism in general (rather than dogmatism towards, for instance, religious beliefs).  We found that analytic reasoning negatively relates to dogmatic tendencies in both groups.  However, the interesting part is that higher levels of dogmatism among the religious were related to higher levels of moral concern, whereas higher levels of dogmatism among the nonreligious relate to lower levels moral concern.  This is very intriguing because it suggests that religious and nonreligious individuals rely differently on these two types of cognition when forming beliefs about the world, in general.  We also found that perspective taking, which is an emotionally detached form of understanding other people’s minds, had a particularly strong negative relationship among the nonreligious. (more…)
Author Interviews, Psychological Science, Social Issues / 15.02.2017 Interview with: Brian Chin, B.S. PhD Student Doctoral Student Department of Psychology Carnegie Mellon University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Numerous studies demonstrate that married people tend to be healthier than those who are single, divorced, or widowed. However, less clear are the psychological and biological mechanisms through which this occurs. To this end, recent research has focused on how the unmarried may experience either greater amounts of stress or different types of stressful situations that put them at increased risk for morbidity and mortality. Models linking stress and disease often implicate the HPA axis as one pathway through which these stressful experiences can affect health. One way to index HPA axis activity is by measuring cortisol, a hormone that plays a regulatory role for many immunological and metabolic processes in the body. The primary aim of our study was to examine whether cortisol could be one biological mechanism through which marital status impacts health. Over three non-consecutive days, 572 healthy adult participants between 21-55 years old provided multiple saliva samples that were used to measure cortisol. Relative to their never married or previously married counterparts, married people had both lower cortisol outputs and steeper daily declines – both of which have been shown to be associated with better health outcomes. (more…)
Author Interviews, Erasmus, Social Issues / 10.10.2013

Ioannis Evangelidis, Ph.D. candidate Department of Marketing Management, Rotterdam School of Management Erasmus University, Interview with: Ioannis Evangelidis, Ph.D. candidate Department of Marketing Management, Rotterdam School of Management Erasmus University, Rotterdam What are the main findings of the study? Answer: We find that donors pay more attention to the number of people killed when donating to a disaster, than to the number of people who are affected (survive but need money).  In other words, people are more likely to donate, and donate more money, the more people die in a disaster, but not when more people survive and need assistance. (more…)