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A Momentary Flow

Evolving Worldviews

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98 posts tagged culture

Losing, not violent content, triggers video game rage
University of Rochester -> Original Study
 Hostile behavior on the part of video gamers may be due to feelings of failure and frustration during play, rather than a game’s violent content. A new study is the first to look at the player’s psychological experience with video games instead of focusing solely on the game’s content. Failure to master a game and its controls can lead to frustration and aggression, regardless of whether the game is violent or not, researchers say. “Any player who has thrown down a remote control after losing an electronic game can relate to the intense feelings or anger failure can cause,” says lead author Andrew Przybylski, a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University. That frustration is commonly known among gamers as “rage-quitting.” The experience is not unique to gaming, says coauthor Richard Ryan, a motivational psychologist at the University of Rochester. For example, in sports, players may lose a game as a result of a bad call. “When people feel they have no control over the outcome of a game, that leads to aggression,” he says. “We saw that in our experiments. If you press someone’s competencies, they’ll become more aggressive, and our effects held up whether the games were violent or not.” To tease out which aspects of the gaming experience lead to aggressive feelings, the researchers manipulated the interface, controls, and degree of difficulty in custom-designed video games across six lab experiments. Nearly 600 college-aged participants were tasked with playing the games—many of which included violent and nonviolent variations—and then were tested for aggressive thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. (via Losing, not violent content, triggers video game rage | Futurity)

Losing, not violent content, triggers video game rage

University of Rochester -> Original Study


Hostile behavior on the part of video gamers may be due to feelings of failure and frustration during play, rather than a game’s violent content. A new study is the first to look at the player’s psychological experience with video games instead of focusing solely on the game’s content. Failure to master a game and its controls can lead to frustration and aggression, regardless of whether the game is violent or not, researchers say. “Any player who has thrown down a remote control after losing an electronic game can relate to the intense feelings or anger failure can cause,” says lead author Andrew Przybylski, a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University. That frustration is commonly known among gamers as “rage-quitting.” The experience is not unique to gaming, says coauthor Richard Ryan, a motivational psychologist at the University of Rochester. For example, in sports, players may lose a game as a result of a bad call. “When people feel they have no control over the outcome of a game, that leads to aggression,” he says. “We saw that in our experiments. If you press someone’s competencies, they’ll become more aggressive, and our effects held up whether the games were violent or not.” To tease out which aspects of the gaming experience lead to aggressive feelings, the researchers manipulated the interface, controls, and degree of difficulty in custom-designed video games across six lab experiments. Nearly 600 college-aged participants were tasked with playing the games—many of which included violent and nonviolent variations—and then were tested for aggressive thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. (via Losing, not violent content, triggers video game rage | Futurity)

The pathogen stress theory is also hard to swallow in a way that evolutionary psychology arguments often are—especially for those who fancy the idea that we are in control of our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. The next time someone tells you about their religious beliefs, try convincing them their firmly held convictions spring from an unconscious disease-avoidance mechanism. Or, alternatively, try telling a liberal acquaintance that their beliefs about openness and inclusion are only as deep as the good luck that has allowed them to live in a relatively disease-free zone.

The Germ Theory of Democracy, Dictatorship, and Your Cherished Beliefs - Pacific Standard: The Science of Society

Moreover, these pathogen-avoidant collectivist tendencies, they wrote, coalesce over time into repressive and autocratic governmental systems. Want to understand the rise of fascism, dictatorship, and ethnocentric campaigns that dehumanize outsiders? Look to the prevalence of pathogen threats. Over the years, scholars like William H. McNeill and Jared Diamond have argued that germs and geography exert an under-appreciated influence on the rise and fall of societies. But for Thornhill and Fincher, human psychological adaptations to the threat of disease are nothing less than the missing link in our understanding of culture—a fundamental key to our collective values that researchers and philosophers over human history have overlooked.

The Germ Theory of Democracy, Dictatorship, and Your Cherished Beliefs - Pacific Standard: The Science of Society
Is culture just a side effect of the struggle to avoid disease? - One morning last fall, the evolutionary biologist Randy Thornhill was standing with me in front of the gorilla enclosure at the Albuquerque zoo. He was explaining a new theory about the origins of human culture when Mashudu, a 10-year-old western lowland gorilla, decided to help illustrate a point. In a very deliberate way, Mashudu sauntered over to the deep cement ravine at the front of his enclosure, perched his rear end over the edge, and did his morning business. Mashudu, I suspected, had just displayed what evolutionary theorists call a “behavioral immune response”—a concept central to Thornhill’s big theory. So I asked him whether I was right about Mashudu. “Pooping downhill is pretty smart,” Thornhill said after some consideration. “He got his waste as far away from him as possible. I think that would probably count as a disease avoidance behavior.” It might seem strange to fixate on how a gorilla goes about answering the call of nature. But according to Thornhill’s hypothesis, much of what we humans like to think of as politics, morality, and culture is motivated by the same kind of subconscious instinct that likely drove Mashudu to that ledge. (via The Germ Theory of Democracy, Dictatorship, and Your Cherished Beliefs - Pacific Standard: The Science of Society)

Is culture just a side effect of the struggle to avoid disease?
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One morning last fall, the evolutionary biologist Randy Thornhill was standing with me in front of the gorilla enclosure at the Albuquerque zoo. He was explaining a new theory about the origins of human culture when Mashudu, a 10-year-old western lowland gorilla, decided to help illustrate a point. In a very deliberate way, Mashudu sauntered over to the deep cement ravine at the front of his enclosure, perched his rear end over the edge, and did his morning business. Mashudu, I suspected, had just displayed what evolutionary theorists call a “behavioral immune response”—a concept central to Thornhill’s big theory. So I asked him whether I was right about Mashudu. “Pooping downhill is pretty smart,” Thornhill said after some consideration. “He got his waste as far away from him as possible. I think that would probably count as a disease avoidance behavior.” It might seem strange to fixate on how a gorilla goes about answering the call of nature. But according to Thornhill’s hypothesis, much of what we humans like to think of as politics, morality, and culture is motivated by the same kind of subconscious instinct that likely drove Mashudu to that ledge. (via The Germ Theory of Democracy, Dictatorship, and Your Cherished Beliefs - Pacific Standard: The Science of Society)

Being Gay Is Natural: Just Ask Bonobos (Op-Ed) - There are hundreds of examples of non-reproductive sex among animals, from albatrosses to koalas. But none of these examples can make people quite so uncomfortable as bonobos do. Two bonobo females having sex looks very different than two female albatrosses sitting placidly on their nest. Bonobo sex looks human. (via Being Gay Is Natural: Just Ask Bonobos | LiveScience)

Being Gay Is Natural: Just Ask Bonobos (Op-Ed)
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There are hundreds of examples of non-reproductive sex among animals, from albatrosses to koalas. But none of these examples can make people quite so uncomfortable as bonobos do. Two bonobo females having sex looks very different than two female albatrosses sitting placidly on their nest. Bonobo sex looks human. (via Being Gay Is Natural: Just Ask Bonobos | LiveScience)

Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Words?

At around 2PM on Tuesday, October 30, 1973, a New York radio station played a monologue by the comedian George Carlin, enumerating and exemplifying in rich detail the seven words ostensibly not allowed on the public airwaves. Soon after, the F.C.C. placed sanctions on the radio station for the broadcast, which it deemed to be “indecent” and “patently offensive.” Five years later, the United States Supreme Court upheld its decision. In other words, the highest court in the land judged certain words to be so dangerous that even the constitutional right to free speech had to be set aside. But why? The children, of course. It was to protect the children. According to the Supreme Court, the problem with Carlin’s routine was that the obscene words, words describing sexual acts and excretory functions “may have a deeper and more lasting negative effect on a child than on an adult.” Many of us are afraid of exposing children to taboo language, based on this same notion—that somehow certain words can damage young minds. And the well-being of children—were it indeed on the line—would most certainly be a justifiable reason to limit freedom of speech. But the problem is that the Supreme Court’s premise, that children can be harmed by selected taboo words, does not survive the test of careful empirical scrutiny. In fact, there are no words so terrible, so gruesomely obscene, that merely hearing them or speaking them poses any danger to young ears. Taboo words carry no intrinsic threat of harm. Simply referring to body part or actions involving them harm a child. Indeed, the things taboo words refer to can be equally well identified using words deemed appropriate for medical settings or use around children. And there’s nothing about the sound of the words themselves that causes insult to the child’s auditory system. Near phonological neighbors to taboo words, words like “fit” and “shuck” do not contaminate the cochlea. Indeed, which particular words are selected as forbidden is an arbitrary accident of history. Words that once would have earned the utterer a mouthful of soap, expressions like “Zounds!” or “That sucks!” hardly lead the modern maven to bat an ear. And conversely, words that today rank among the most obscene at one time were used commonly to refer to the most mundane things, like roosters and female dogs. No, the only risk children run by hearing the four-letter words prohibited over the public airwaves is the small chance of broadening their vocabularies. And even this possibility is remote, as anyone can attest who has recently overheard the goings-on in an elementary school playground. So when the Motion Picture Association of America forbids children from watching the South Park movie; when parents instruct children to put their hands over their ears in “earmuff” position; and indeed when the FCC levies fines on broadcasters, they aren’t protecting children. But they are having an effect. Paradoxically, it’s these actions we take to shield children from words, with censorship foremost among them, that gives specific words their power. And this makes perhaps the best argument that we shouldn’t be afraid of exposing children to taboo words. Doing so is the best way to take away any perceived threat they pose.

David Bodanis
Writer; Futurist; Author, Passionate Minds


Edge.org

Free birth control doesn’t cause riskier sex
Washington University in St. Louis -> Original Study
 - New research shows that providing women with free contraception does not increase the likelihood that they will have sex with multiple partners, as critics of the practice have suggested. “The notion that women will have sex with more partners if you give them free birth control didn’t pan out in this study,” says Jeffrey Peipert, the study’s senior author and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “Providing no-cost contraception did not result in riskier sexual behavior.” The researchers analyzed data from the Contraceptive CHOICE Project, a study of 9,256 women in St. Louis who were at high risk for unintended pregnancy. The women were told of the superior effectiveness of long-term contraceptives such as intrauterine devices and implants over birth control pills, patches, and rings and allowed to choose among the contraceptive methods, which were provided at no cost. Earlier studies of women in the CHOICE project showed that providing women with no-cost birth control substantially reduces unintended pregnancies and abortions. In the new analysis, the researchers looked at whether providing no-cost contraception to CHOICE participants increased their number of sexual partners and frequency of intercourse in the year after they received no-cost contraception. Both are measures of sexual risk behaviors linked to pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. “Having multiple partners is a known risk behavior,” says Gina Secura, the study’s first author and project director of the CHOICE project. “If sexual behavior were going to change after women received free contraception, you would expect to see that change soon after they got the birth control.” Women in the current study ranged in age from 14 to 45. Thirty-two percent had a high school education or less, 35 percent received public assistance, and 39 percent had trouble paying for basic expenses. Forty-nine percent had never had a child, and 62 percent had a prior unintended pregnancy. (via Free birth control doesn’t cause riskier sex | Futurity)

Free birth control doesn’t cause riskier sex

Washington University in St. Louis -> Original Study


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New research shows that providing women with free contraception does not increase the likelihood that they will have sex with multiple partners, as critics of the practice have suggested. “The notion that women will have sex with more partners if you give them free birth control didn’t pan out in this study,” says Jeffrey Peipert, the study’s senior author and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “Providing no-cost contraception did not result in riskier sexual behavior.” The researchers analyzed data from the Contraceptive CHOICE Project, a study of 9,256 women in St. Louis who were at high risk for unintended pregnancy. The women were told of the superior effectiveness of long-term contraceptives such as intrauterine devices and implants over birth control pills, patches, and rings and allowed to choose among the contraceptive methods, which were provided at no cost. Earlier studies of women in the CHOICE project showed that providing women with no-cost birth control substantially reduces unintended pregnancies and abortions. In the new analysis, the researchers looked at whether providing no-cost contraception to CHOICE participants increased their number of sexual partners and frequency of intercourse in the year after they received no-cost contraception. Both are measures of sexual risk behaviors linked to pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. “Having multiple partners is a known risk behavior,” says Gina Secura, the study’s first author and project director of the CHOICE project. “If sexual behavior were going to change after women received free contraception, you would expect to see that change soon after they got the birth control.”
Women in the current study ranged in age from 14 to 45. Thirty-two percent had a high school education or less, 35 percent received public assistance, and 39 percent had trouble paying for basic expenses. Forty-nine percent had never had a child, and 62 percent had a prior unintended pregnancy. (via Free birth control doesn’t cause riskier sex | Futurity)