human behavior

Endless Simmer via Flickr Creative Commons

Anthropology translates literally to the “science of humanity." We tend to think of it as a field that seeks to answer the big questions about what makes us human. A number of consultant anthopologists are seeking to answer queries that appear somewhat less profound. For example, consulting firms like ReD Associates use field research and ethnography to figure out (among other things) how people are drinking Absolut vodka at house parties.  Their services offer corporate clients a deeper understanding of consumer behavior through these anthropological methods, which presents a challenge to a traditionally academic arena with its own code of ethics and standards.

Photo by Bryan Alexander via Flickr Creative Commons

Novels, movies, TV and games engage the human imagination with tragedy, comedy, sex, violence, twisted families, rapacious gangsters, mysteries and monsters. But could all this fantasy be good for us?

Jonathan Gottschall is author of The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make us Human. He wrote about research into how fiction influences our views for The Boston Globe.