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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Are You an Intuitive or Analytical Thinker?

Are You an Intuitive or Analytical Thinker?

The answer is not what you think.

Here’s a simple test of reasoning ability:
“A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?” (Pennycook et al., 2015).
If your answer was “10 cents,” congratulations! You responded like most people. You followed your intuitions—“10 cents” just feels like the right answer. You got the answer wrong, by the way, but still you’re a normal human being.
If your answer was “5 cents,” congratulations are also in order. You made the effort to think analytically, and you got the right answer. You’re also in the minority, by the way—a rare breed of human.
So, are you an intuitive or analytical thinker? If you think the test above can tell you which type you are, you need to think again.
According to Canadian psychologist Gordon Pennycook and his colleagues, all of us are intuitive thinkers. As we solve problems and make decisions in our daily life, we let our emotions guide us. And that’s a good thing, because our “gut feelings” have been honed over evolutionary history to help us quickly and effortlessly achieve good enough outcomes.
Take ordering a meal at a restaurant as an example. You look over the menu, find something appealing, and order it. If you attempted a rational decision making process in this case, you’d get stuck in “paralysis by analysis”—unable to make a choice.
Yet, there are cases where intuitions will lead us astray. The “bat and ball problem” above is but one example. Because intuitive thinking is the default mode for humans, most people respond with a “quick and dirty” response that gets the answer wrong. However, as Pennycook and his colleagues point out, some of us are willing to expend the effort to think in an analytical fashion.
It’s important not to think of intuitive and analytical thinkers as two different types of people, since all of us are capable of both modes of reasoning. Some people are more in the habit of thinking analytically. People in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields have years of training in analytical thinking. But even these people can be led astray by their intuitions, especially when working on problems outside their area of expertise. Likewise, even highly intuitive people can be coaxed into thinking analytically under the right circumstances.
There are significant life consequences for people who are willing to engage in analytical thought processes. Religion is a good example. All religious faiths are based on intuitions. We’re indoctrinated with the beliefs and practices of our particular religion in early inchildhood, accepting these teachings as obvious truths. Yet those who are willing to think analytically quickly spot the logical inconsistencies in religious tenets, and they question their childhood faith.
More generally, people who habitually engage in analytical thinking also tend to be more skeptical toward paranormal claims and supernatural beliefs. They’re also more likely to question claims that, while not supernatural, still don’t reconcile well with a logical, materialistic worldview. For example, they question conspiracy theories, which are usually more complicated than standard explanations. Likewise, they take a dubious stance toward alternative medicine.
Analytical thinking also affects people’s moral attitudes. All of us have an innate moral sense that we share with our primate cousins and perhaps other mammals as well. When we put these rules of behavior into words, they’re usually phrased as “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts.”
As far as an innate moral sense is concerned, “shoulds” typically invoke emotions that compel us to cooperate with family and friends. Psychologists refer to this urge-to-help intuition as “prosociality” because it’s the backbone of primate—including human—social behavior.
Pennycook and his colleagues found that people who mainly engage in intuitive thinking are more likely to help out, even at a considerable cost to themselves. People who think analytically aren’t necessarily selfish or greedy. However, in social exchanges they tend to evaluate the potential payoffs to themselves and others, and they gladly help when it benefits others more than it costs themselves.
The “shouldn’ts” of our innate moral sense are mainly derived from the more evolutionarily ancient emotion of disgust. We experience disgust in the presence of things like feces, vomit, blood and other bodily fluids because these are all substances that carry disease. Thus, disgust is an automatic response to things that can cause sickness.
While some things are universally disgusting, we can also learn to feel disgust for items that have made us ill in the past. For me, it’s peanut butter. Even the smell makes me retch.
People who are guided by their intuitive morality tend to deem behaviors that they personally find disgusting to be immoral for everyone. For example, a heterosexual male may deem homosexuality immoral because he finds the thought of himself engaging in such an act disgusting.
People in the habit of thinking analytically, however, tend make moral judgments in terms of the question: “What’s the harm?” If the behavior hurts no one, then it is moral. Thus, analytical thinkers will see nothing immoral about homosexual acts by consenting adults. By the same token, discrimination against same-sex marriage is seen as harmful, since it deprives these couples of legal and economic rights that are granted to heterosexual unions.
In just a couple of decades, American popular opinion on same-sex unions shifted from overwhelmingly negative to overwhelmingly positive. I suspect this is because many Americans were coaxed into thinking analytically about the issue and asking themselves, “What’s the harm?”
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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Book Share: Path to Peace by Angie Rasome-Jones

As a daughter whose father passed away when young, then having my step-father pass away in 2013, this book was a must share. Dealing with the passing of one's parent can be a difficult time in your life. Knowing that you're not alone in your grief helps many to cope. Check out this book by Angie Ransome-Jones ... it can help you in your time of grief.

Angie says...
"If Facebook was around in 2002, I would have undoubtedly logged my mother’s passing as a Life Event –  the hash tag would simply read #WorstDayofMyLife period. For years after her passing, I occupied my time by burying myself in an endless barrage of busy work, my children and other things that I cannot speak on publicly.  Mothers’ Days felt like a pap smear to me; cold, dreadful, uncomfortable and almost like a violation.

Fast forward 5 years, I experienced my next disaster when my father passed away, but this time was different — it was totally unexpected and it literally broke my heart.  In an instant, my life was turned upside down and in that very same breath, it was transformed into a whirlwind of planning, organizing, researching and resolving – all while trying to grieve his death."

Path to Peace, A Guide to Managing Life After Losing a Loved One, chronicles one daughter’s journey of finding peace after the devastating and sudden loss of her beloved father. In the midst of grieving, Angie Ransome-Jones was suddenly faced with having to lay her father to rest, settle his extensive financial affairs and reconcile her unresolved feelings over the loss of her mother several years earlier. 

Along the way, she experienced learnings about what she refers to as “the process” and has made it her mission to share practical steps and tips to picking up the pieces and finding peace, after the loss of a loved one. In this book, Angela provides a comprehensive guide that also gives advice from the professionals she worked with, including her attorney, financial advisor and grief counselor. 

Path to Peace is one daughter’s story of reclaiming her life, realizing her purpose and finding inner peace along the way.
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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Are You Feeding Your Narcissist?

Care and Feeding of your Narcissist

It’s more than just excessive self-esteem

Since the 1970s, “self-esteem” has been a buzzword among parents, teachers, and psychologists alike. Parents are told that they need to instill self-esteem in their children if they want them to grow up to be happy and productive adults. Educators believe that self-esteem is the key to academic success, so they twist criticism into praise lest they bruise little Billie’s budding sense of self-worth. Furthermore, therapists and life coaches alike advise their clients with low self-esteem to just fake it till they make it, as if a sense of self-worth comes from within and rather than from without.
Plenty of research shows there’s a relationship between self-esteem and subjective well-being, or general sense of happiness in life. Hence the drive to build self-esteem in the rising generation. While conceding that the intentions are good, Dutch psychologists Eddie Brummelman, Sander Thomaes, and Constantine Sedikides argue that the methods we often use to raise self-esteem may be creating a generation of monsters.
Among personality psychologists, there’s a longstanding debate about whether personality is stable or changes over time. Some psychologists claim that personality traits are genetic and hence present at birth. We can call this the “solid” model—your personality may get nicked and dented as you go through life, but it keeps its overall shape. Other psychologists claim that your personalities are shaped by your experiences. We can call this the “fluid” model, since your personality molds itself to varying circumstances throughout the lifespan.
A third group of psychologists take a middle position. They maintain that personality is fluid in childhood but sets by adolescence or early adulthood. We can call this the “jello” model of personality. If you believe that the way people behave as adults depends on how they were raised as children, then you subscribe to the “jello” model. (Otherwise, you’d blame behavior on either genes or the current situation.)
Brummelman and his colleagues concede that there is some evidence for a genetic component to both self-esteem and narcissism. However, they also argue that the most important factor lies in childhood interactions with parents, teachers, and other significant adults. Although self-esteem and narcissism have some similar features, the researchers argue that they’re fundamentally different. Hence, in trying to instill self-esteem in our youth, we may be encouraging narcissistic tendencies instead.
The received wisdom is that narcissism is just exaggerated self-esteem, but the researchers argue that the difference is far more than one of degree. Both self-esteem and narcissism are based on people’s perceptions of how others evaluate them. However, narcissists and those with high self-esteem view their social world differently, and this greatly colors the way they think about themselves and others.
Narcissists view their social world as vertical. There’s a pecking order, and everyone else is either above or below them. There are no equals. Thus, the goal of the narcissist is to get ahead—by hook or by crook—and they use relationships to climb to the top.
Those with high self-esteem, however, view their social world as horizontal, where all members of the group are on an equal footing. They seek to get along, not get ahead. They build deep and intimate connections with other people. In other words, they view relationships as ends in themselves, not as a means to achieving supremacy or bolstering their fragile sense of self-worth.
In sum, narcissists view themselves as superior, whereas people with high self-esteem view themselves as worthy. Signs of both self-esteem and narcissism begin to appear around age seven. This is a time when children begin developing a global sense of self as well as the social perception skills to judge how they compare with others and how others view them. By adolescence, the jello of personality sets into either a self-esteem or narcissism mold.
To test this theory, the researchers conducted a long-term study in which they measured children’s personality and observed the ways their parents interacted with them. They found that children who developed high self-esteem also had parents who expressed fondness and affection for them but did not overly praise them. However, children who developed narcissistic tendencies had parents who showered them with praise and constantly compared them to other children who accomplished less than they did. In a nutshell, parental warmth led to self-esteem, whereas parental overvaluation led to narcissism.
Brummelman and his colleagues propose several interventions to help children develop high self-esteem while avoiding narcissistic tendencies. First, they suggest that parents and teachers praise children for their accomplishments without comparing them to their peers. The difference between “Great job!” and “You’re the best!” may be subtle. Yet, the first conveys worthiness, the core of self-esteem, whereas the second conveys superiority, the core of narcissism. Second, children should be nudged away from narcissistic thinking by encouraging them to think about ways that they are similar to their peers rather than superior to them.
A third intervention the researchers propose is aimed at children showing signs of low self-esteem. These children in particular need significant adults to help them properly interpret the remarks others make about them. People with low self-esteem, whether children or adults, tend to dismiss praise and dwell on criticisms. Elders need to reassure these children that they are worthy of the positive comments they receive and that they should take criticism as constructive feedback.
Proper care and feeding of children’s emerging sense of self puts them on the pathway toward healthy self-esteem—before the jello of personality sets.
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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Horse and Human Trama

The Need for Voice

An Interview with Vera Muller-Paisner on Treating Horse and Human Trauma

In the course of the development of civilization man acquired a dominating position over his fellow-creatures in the animal kingdom. Not content with this supremacy, however, he began to place a gulf between his nature and theirs. He denied the possession of reason to them, and to himself he attributed an immortal soul. - Sigmund Freud
As part of the series on exploring trauma and trauma recovery across species, this interview turns toward psychoanalysis and the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) protocol as practiced by Vera Muller-Paisner. A psychoanalyst with a master’s degree in social work, Vera has spent the last three decades years studying the chronicity and transmission of trauma. In 1996, she served as a research consultant for the International Study Group for Trauma at Yale University, and in 1996 received an appointment in the Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine.
Vera has conducted extensive research and clinical experience working with Children of Holocaust survivors and is the author of Broken Chain: Catholics Uncover the Holocaust’s Hidden Legacy and Discover Their Jewish Roots(link is external). Much of her clinical work focuses on helping those who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) including dogs and horses with whom she has modified EMDR to create Bilateral Equine Tapping (BET).
Vera, there are many different kinds of psychology and subsequently, comparably different approaches and philosophies concerning trauma and its treatment. You bring your training as a Psychoanalyst and insights from neurobiology to your work. Can you first describe the psychoanalysis tradition and how it differs from a straightforward cognitive psychological approach?
VMP: Psychoanalysis was an approach and concept developed by Austrian neurologist and doctor of medicine, Sigmund Freud. A number of other neurologists and psychologists including C.G. Jung developed and incorporated their own theories of psychoanalytic treatment. Students from these two related, but different fields, are referred to as “Freudians” or Jungians.” The key tenet of psychoanalysis, and what distinguishes it and that of Jung’s from other approaches and sub-fields in psychology, is its inclusion of the unconscious, processes—thoughts, memories, and feelings of which we are not aware or conscious of.
The study of the unconscious is referred to as depth psychology. In practice, psychoanalysis is a collaboration between the analyst (or therapist) and patient to explore his/her unconscious thoughts and conflicts through talk. While other kinds ofpsychotherapy now include its consideration, the use of dreams, symbols, and associations was originally connected to psychoanalysis as means to reveal what lay in the unconscious. For example, during a session this might entail the patient’s free association – communicating about anything and everything, wandering freely and saying anything that comes to mind.

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Monday, March 7, 2016

Dance Your Way into Health

You know that I love to share thing new and interesting products and services that are on the internet -- well, I have another one for you guys.

You said that you wanted to "get moving" this year to shed those unwanted pounds. 
Why not get up and get moving with Saka. Dance and make new friends. 
Check out to get started now!

Saka® is an African-Caribbean-Latin and internationally inspired dance fitness party. It is fun, high-intensity and easy-to-follow. Saka® combines a healthy balance of sensuality and spirituality. Saka® delivers REAL RESULTS and transforms you to your best you – BODY, MIND and SPIRIT!

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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Hooked on Meat: Evolution, Psychology, and Dissonance

"Even after reading the book and confirming the sordid details about my destructive habit, I’m still not ready to go vegetarian – I just really love to eat meat." (Caroline Morley, Meathooked: How eating meat became a global obsession(link is external))
Marta Zaraska's new book called Meathooked: The History and Science of Our 2.5-Million-Year Obsession with Meat (link is external)(the Kindle edition can be seen here(link is external)) is an outstanding analysis of why the vast majority of humans make the choice to eat nonhuman animals (animals) knowing well that it isn't good for them or the planet. I really want as many people as possible to read Ms. Zaraska's book, not because it will make them go veggie or vegan -- indeed that is not her mission -- but rather to gain a deeper and comprehensive understanding of why their meal plans look like they do. Excerpts from the book's description capture what Meathooked is all about.
What makes us crave animal protein, and what makes it so hard to give up? And if all the studies are correct, and consuming meat is truly unhealthy for us, why didn’t evolution turn us all into vegetarians in the first place?
In Meathooked, Zaraska explores what she calls the “meat puzzle”: our love of meat, despite its harmful effects. Scientific journals overflow with reports of red meat raising the risk of certain cancers; each hamburger contributes as much to global warming as does driving a car 320 miles; and the horrors of industrial meat production are now well-known.
None of these facts have prompted us to give up our hamburgers and steaks. On the contrary, meat consumption has only increased over the past decades. Taking the reader to India’s unusual steakhouses, animal sacrifices at temples in Benin, and labs in Pennsylvania where meat is being grown in petri dishes, Zaraska examines the history and future of meat and meat-eating, showing that while our increasing consumption of meat can be attributed in part to the power of the meat industry and the policies of our governments, the main “hooks” that keep us addicted to meat are much older: genes and culture.
An original and thought-provoking exploration of carnivorousness, Meathooked explains one of the most enduring features of human civilization—and why meat-eating will continue to shape our bodies and our world into the foreseeable future.
An interview with Ms. Zaraska
I learned about Meathooked when Ms. Zaraska asked me to do an interview on play in non-human mammals and I was hooked. I did a brief interview with her that I found very informative. 
Why did you write Meathooked and what do you hope to accomplish?
I wrote Meathooked because one question kept bugging me, a question I just couldn't find an answer to anywhere. I've read over and over that meat was bad for us (because ofhealthenvironmentethics), yet I started wondering why do we eat meat at all if it's so bad for us and the planet? Why is this such a special food to so many people? Why is it such a touchy, charged topic? So in part I wrote Meathooked for myself, because I wanted to learn more why people crave meat so much. But during the process I also came to believe that if we are to reduce meat consumption (and we really must if we want to avoid major climate trouble - which for the sake of my daughter I hope we will), then we need to understand why we eat it in the first place. Without comprehending why meat is so important to us, it'll be really hard to give it up. 
For whom is it written?
It's both for meat lovers and for hardcore vegans. For meat lovers because it can shed some light on why they enjoy and crave meat so much, and for vegans because it can help them understand why vast the majority of people is not joining them and happily ditching meat. 
What is your own meal plan?
Complicated. 90% vegetarian. I eat fish from time to time (once every few weeks) when I go out to a restaurant and there is nothing else on the menu but meat (I live in rural France, it's not a vegetarian heaven, believe me). But then I eat only vegan on Mondays (in parallel to "Meatless Mondays"). And sometimes, maybe twice a year, I will nibble on a piece of bacon or a slice of pepperoni, stolen off a friend's pizza. 
What did you think of the last sentence of the New Scientist review?
(The review to which I was referring by Caroline Morley contains the quote with which I began this essay, namely, "Even after reading the book and confirming the sordid details about my destructive habit, I’m still not ready to go vegetarian – I just really love to eat meat.") It reminded me of what a number of my friends say to me when I ask them why they continue to eat meat knowing about the animals' deep and enduring suffering. Their usual response goes something like, "I know they suffer but I love my burger(link is external)." Clearly there is a good deal of dissonance here.) 
I thought: wow, that's precisely why I wrote Meathooked - to explain that there is so much more behind our obsession with meat than "I just really love to eat meat". Although, admittedly, it's easier to say "I just love it" than explain that: "I love the unique mixture of meat's flavors of umami and fat and the products of the Maillard reaction, and I enjoy the fact that meat symbolizes power and wealth, and I've likely inherited my propensity to like protein foods from my parents," and so on. To be honest, to really explain why we love meat, you need about 75,000 words (that's how long my book is, more or less).
In her review Ms. Morley also writes, "Zaraska’s tone is light and she does well putting facts and figures to ideas we are familiar with – such as how powerful the meat industry is. 'In 2011, in the US alone, the annual sales of meat were worth $186 billion,' she writes. And she has a truly alarming figure up her sleeve: 'During the 2013 election cycle, the animal products industry contributed $17.5 million to federal candidates.'”
Going "Cold tofu"
Ms. Morley also writes, "But non-vegetarians can take heart: her vision of the short-term future is not entirely meat-free. After a whole book exploring our 'addiction', she concludes that going cold turkey (pun intended) could backfire. 'Even though I do believe that in the future humanity will eat mostly plant-based foods, I also believe that pushing for dietary purity is not the way to go,' she writes."
Shaming and forcing people to change their meal plans doesn't usually work at least in the long-term, and I feel Ms. Zaraska's non-preachy tone is rather effective. In an essay I wrote called "Going "Cold Tofu" to End Factory Farming," I noted that step-by-step decreases in whom we choose to eat, not what we choose to eat (please see "Who we eat is moral question: Vegans have nothing to defend") will be better for ourselves, the planet, and future generations. 
Along these lines, the last paragraph of James McWilliams' The Modern Savage: Our Unthinking Decision to Eat Animals(link is external) says it well: "What I'm asking you to imagine is thus a movement that requires us to become more emotionally in tune with animals, ethically consistent in our behavior, and better informed about the evolutionary heritage we share with sentient creatures. This movement, whether we join it all at once or gradually, with immediate zeal or reluctantly, will, in the end, triumph over industrial agriculture because it will be, above all else, a bloodless revolution based on compassion for animals, the environment, and ultimately ourselves." (For more on the underlying reasons for our meal plans please also see "The Psychology Behind Our Meal Plans: Why We Eat Whom We Eat", an essay about Dr. Melanie Joy's excellent video called "The Secret Reason We Eat Meat(link is external).")
Leaving the "meatingplace" mentality behind and moving on with more humane meal plans and fewer animals on the plate
There are a number of excellent books and videos that focus on whom we choose to eat and Meathooked ranks right up there with the best of them. People working on what's called "meat science(link is external)" have a place where they talk about their research called the "meatingplace(link is external)" (they really do!), and Meathooked provides an excellent opportunity for people to reflect on why they are addicted to meat. My recommendation is to readMeathooked and share it widely. It could well be a win-win for all involved. 

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