In Time’s higher education supplement, Annabel Symington recently wrote about politicians who shock their respective nations by getting caught plagiarizing their PhD theses. Earlier this year, Germany’s education and research minister resigned after her thesis, “Person and Conscience: Studies on the Conditions, Need and Requirements of Today’s Consciences,” was discovered to be choc-a-block with uncited passages of other people’s work. Pakistan’s President Zardari may have invented the university he went to.
According to a new study, these fakers may just be happier than the rest of us honest folk. The journal Motivation and Emotion recently published work by Amanda C. Gingerich from Indiana’s Butler University and Chad S. Dodson from the University of Virginia, suggesting that happy people plagiarize and sad people don’t.
I know everyone thinks their dog is the greatest, but you’re all wrong because ours was. When I was growing up we had a yellow Labrador named Sir Lancelot, but he went by Lance because he wasn’t all up in your face about his knighthood. He was a sweet boy, and if you took him swimming in the river you could hold on to his shoulders and he would tow you. When he had to be put down at the age of 15, the vet who came to our house to give him the injection cried.
We think about our dogs a lot, but is it mutual? A new study in the journal Animal Cognition asks whether dogs can see things from our perspective. Apparently, they don’t focus so much on what we’re seeing as on what we’re hearing.
The mystical notion of “calling” was initially about finding a relationship with God. People are “called” to the priesthood or the convent. When we use it now in the secular world, it sounds facetious, and needs a sort of prefatory vocal cringe. But as a concept, it’s still a primary driver for people’s decisions about how to create meaningful lives for themselves. The word “vocation” comes from Latin vocare, to call. A guidance counselor with a binder of personality quizzes does his or her best to mimic the burning bush.
A recent study in the Journal of Organizational Behavior discusses what leads up to that struck-by-lightning experience of finding one’s calling—and how that feeling ebbs away over time.
Recently, Americans have been hunkered down at the extreme edges of the spectrum of opinion, throwing tomatoes. Whether the issue is gun control, environmental policy, or foreign affairs, the U.S. is in a period of severe polarization, and dramatic events like the bombings of the Boston marathon are immediately coloured by the public’s entrenched positions.
Even if you aren’t the kind of person who thinks your moral beliefs come straight from God, we all like to think we’re at least guided by reason. What’s harder to accept is that our moral judgments are strongly influenced by subconscious factors we don’t control. A new study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology suggests that our moral compass can be spun by something as subtle as a visual metaphor—in this case, an image of a checkerboard.
Only seven awards were announced during the televised broadcast of the Junos. The Carly Rae Jepsens and Serena Ryders of the music world are the big news, and the less popular genres were covered in a few quick voice-over segments. As the Globe and Mail put it, “it’s probably a given most viewers don’t care who won Children’s Album of the Year or Contemporary Jazz Album of the Year.”
This makes it sound like either jazz is objectively boring (classy, Globe), or most viewers are philistines. But it’s also probably a given that most Juno viewers are right-handed. A new study in Psychology of Music suggests there may be a link between strong right-handedness and a distaste for the “weirder” musical genres.
Synaesthesia is the mental aberration I always wish I had. It seems as if it would make writing poetry as easy as arranging your bookshelves by colour. Sometimes I’ll fake it for myself for fun, imagining colours for words or personalities for numbers—I’m pretty sure 4 is a timid younger sister and 9 is a bossy older sister. But for a real synaesthete these experiences are involuntary—they don’t have to imagine them.
But maybe I should be careful what I wish for. A new study in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, conducted by a team of UK researchers headed by Michael J. Banissy of University College London, suggests that synaesthetes are different from you and me—they’re grumpier.
It’s kind of a luxury to be suddenly terrified of the North Korean government. North Koreans have been for years. Since the partition of North and South Korea in 1945, and the Korean War that followed, many people who ended up on the north side of the border have been risking their lives to get to the south.
In the 1990s, the collapse of the Soviet Union meant the loss of much-needed support and trade for North Korea, and the ensuing famine killed somewhere between 250,000 and a million people. At that time, recorded cases of North Korean defectors who reached South Korea were in the single digits, but by 2008 they peaked at 2,809. In 2012, there were 1,509. They are sometimes referred to saeteomin, “people of new land,” or sometimes as bukhanitaljumin, “residents who renounced North Korea.”
Bees are kind of like migrant workers; they live in ramshackle shared housing, get trucked around to fields and orchards all over North America, and our food economy depends on them. An estimated 30 percent of what Americans eat is either directly pollinated by honeybees, or (if routed to the dinner table via the slaughterhouse) feeding on crops pollinated by honeybees. You may have seen a photo of Einstein with his certified-genius hair stamped over with the quote, “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.” This quote is almost certainly apocryphal, and the direct line from no bees to no humans is controversial, but you get the idea.
It used to be that the kidneys or liver you were born with were the only ones you could reasonably expect to have a stake in. Giving someone your heart was purely metaphorical. But now that organ transplants are part of the medical repertoire, we also need to decide where they fit in the economy. When you give part of your body to someone else, is it a gift or a sale?
In a recent issue of Transplant International, researchers Klaus Hoeyer and Ida Deleuran from the University of Copenhagen, along with Silke Schicktanz from Germany’s University Medical Center Goettingen assessed public attitudes to financial incentives for organ donors.
So far, the only robotic co-worker I’ve ever had was the robot mail-deliverer at the CBC. It zooted around delivering mail from floor to floor, and when I ran into it in the hallways I’d flatten myself against the wall and hope its sensors or X-ray vision or whatever would tell it not to run me over. It didn’t have a human-like shape—it was just sort of a steel box on wheels—so I didn’t feel obliged to make small-talk about the weather or compliment its outfit. I would describe my emotional reaction to it as “mildly weirded out.”
A new study in the journal Applied Ergonomics, conducted by Jihong Hwang of Seoul National University, Taezoon Park of Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, and Wonil Hwang of Korea’s Soongsil University, examines how a robot’s body shape affects both our emotional response and our perception of the ‘bot’s personality.
It’s fashionable right now to look to neurobiology, gender norms, or family of origin parenting styles when you’re trying to figure out why your partner is such a jerk. A new study suggests that one overlooked root of relationship problems is social class. While cross-class marriages like the one between Downtown Abbey’s Lady Sybil and the estate’s chauffeur, Tom Branson, might not be overtly scandalous anymore, the renegotiation of values they entail isn’t confined to the fictionalized 1920s.
A recent study, published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy and conducted by psychotherapist Teresa McDowell and her research team from Oregon’s Lewis and Clark College, assessed the experiences of eight American couples in which partners self-identified as being from different class backgrounds. Perhaps the saddest finding was that upper-class people, even when they love and are married to someone from a lower-class background, often display stereotypical class prejudices.
I met a woman the other night who had been working for the Tourism Board in Sierra Leone. “It’s a beautiful country, with gorgeous beaches and mountains,” she said, “but it’s kind of hard to convince people to come there.” Sierra Leone is a beautiful tropical country, with rainforests and tawny grasslands and beaches on the Atlantic Ocean. It also had a horrific civil war between 1991 and 2002, resulting in millions dead and displaced. Not surprising that it’s still kind of a tough sell for carefree beach vacationers.
But for some tourists, the urge to frolic in the company of the pygmy hippopotamus is so overpowering that it’s worth the risk. A new study in The Journal of Travel Research by Galia Fuchs, Natan Uriely, and Arie Reichel from Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, along with Darya maoz from Israel’s Center for Academic Studies, asks: what makes some tourists throw caution to the sultry winds?
The summer I was 11 I went to an art camp in town. We lived in the country, so when city kids got sent to the woods to learn canoeing and swimming, we got sent into the city to learn how to obey traffic lights and buy frozen yoghurt. That’s where, thanks to a girl with the most evil name in the world—subsequent Kims, like Kim Kardashian and Kim Jong Il, have confirmed this impression—I had my first experience of being bullied. Kim used to sit behind me tearing pieces off her eraser and throwing them at my head, so that my hair was full of rubber shavings, and telling everyone about my “ape arms” (I mean, even then I had bizarrely hairy forearms—I’m not saying Kim wasn’t observant).
My friends Marie-Ève and Dave are the kind of people who fix stuff. Their kitchen is full of espresso machines they found in the garbage and refurbished, and they’re constantly showing up at their friends’ houses with extra washing machines or lengths of wood to make better shelves. I did not grow up among people who fix stuff. My family’s house was the kind where everything had a “trick.” Guests needed a lengthy orientation on how to flush the toilet without breaking the water-pump, and where not to step in the basement so they didn’t put a foot through the rotten linoleum. When Marie-Ève and Dave visit me, they put down carpeting in my bedroom and rearrange my kitchen shelves. Sometimes I feel like my life is a broken toaster they’ve been tinkering with since we met, and someday they will miraculously make it work.
I’ve never been to Japan, and until recently my most eye-opening (ha) (you’ll get it in a minute) exposure to Japanese culture was through these mint-flavoured eyedrops (there it is) that friends brought back from a trip. If your eyes are dry or red, you squeeze these eyedrops in and right away, you’ve made a terrible, terrible mistake—like you just stabbed yourself in the brain with a candy cane. Gradually, the minty blindness subsides and your eyes feel marginally less dry. Point being, Japan does things differently.
A recent study in the journal Visual Communication by Scott Koga-Browes of Japan’s Kyushu University examines what the use of different camera shots in British and Japanese news programs can tell us about social distance in these two cultures. The idea that the space between people is an important indicator of both cultural norms and personal relationships, Koga-Browes explains, was first developed by theorist E.T. Hall in the 1960s. Hall divided social distance into four categories: intimate, personal, social, and public.
The Netherlands was one of the first of the modern “welfare states,” creating a model in the 1930s in which the state invested in the general well-being of its citizens. They get awesome things like vakantiegeld (“vacation money”) dropped into their accounts every summer, and extra Christmas money too. Those in need can access rent benefits, unemployment insurance, and benefits for the elderly. However, the very awesomeness of these benefits also makes some Dutch voters loath to pony up for people who they perceive as undeserving.
In recent years, a right-wing has sprung up in the Netherlands consisting of parties like Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom, which advocates abolishing the minimum wage, limiting government subsidies, and cutting taxes; it also takes the view that immigrants must assimilate to Dutch society. In the current issue of International Political Science Review, sociologists Willem de Koster, Peter Achterberg, and Jeroen van der Waal from Erasmus University Rotterdam investigated the question of how perceptions of the welfare state contribute to voter support for far-right parties.
When the 1995 Quebec referendum happened, I was 15. We lived about a half-hour from the border with Ontario, and on the day of the vote, my sister and I got sent over to my aunt’s in Ottawa. My mum worked on the Ontario side, and she was afraid that if it was a Yes she might not able to get back across the river that divided the provinces. We all hunkered in my aunt’s basement watching the The National on their cabinet TV until the red No on the bar at the bottom of the screen squeezed past the blue Yes. We drove home through the quiet streets, past the houses in our neighbourhood with different flags on their porches, listening to Jacques Parizeau on the radio blaming the “ethnic vote.”
It’s tough not to hate people; they have it coming. But that may be just my self-employment and low income talking. On the other hand, I’m female, Canadian, and kind of a lefty so it’s also easy to love people. Or at least believe they’re not always out to mess with me.
A new study on misanthropy in the American Journal of Economics and Sociology, conducted by Natalia Melgar and Máximo Rossi of Uruguay’s Universidad de la República with Tom Smith from the University of Chicago, compares levels of misanthropy across thirty countries and regions, as well as across a number of socio-economic and demographic variables.
When Liz Lemon calls one of her techies on set “Rick,” he responds, “No, I’m Frank—Rick is the other black guy.” An embarrassed Liz turns to her visitor—an investigator from the agency where she has applied to adopt a child—and says,...
When you opened the front door to my university residence, the first thing you saw was a sinuous line of green construction paper wending its way up the wall of the stairwell. It was called “the Puke Vine,” and when you puked, you got a leaf with your name on it in Magic Marker. In the same way elementary school kids decorate their classrooms with cut-outs of autumn leaves or paper snowflakes to show the changing of the seasons, our Puke Vine showed what season of life we were in.
Most of us, anyway. A current study in the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, conducted by sociologists Nancy Herman-Kinney and David Kinney from Central Michigan University examines the social stigma suffered by a minority group of university students: the non-drinkers.