This photo was used to illustrate Schuster's story with the following caption: Photographs from Nadezhda Ladygina-Kohts, Infant Chimpanzee and Human Child. Originally published in 1935, the book offers a comparative study of the behavior of a human child (Ladygina-Kohts’s own son Roody) and an infant chimpanzee named Joni. The bottom two images in this plate show Joni reacting to being tickled.
The sensation of tickling has baffled great thinkers since the days of Aristotle, who used human ticklishness to distinguish people from animals. Later, Freud puzzled over the strange mix of pleasure and pain caused by tickling.
Indeed, we tickle kids or siblings, sometimes affectionately, sometimes edging towards cruelty. Still unknown is why people laugh when tickled, and why you can’t tickle yourself? Why do some people enjoy tickling and others not? And what is tickling, after all? Contemporary philosopher Aaron Schuster picks up those questions. He’s on the faculty at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam and wrote “A Philosophy of Tickling” for Cabinet Magazine.
Lucifer, Beelzebub, the Prince of Darkness…whatever he's called, some seventy percent of Americans believe in the existence of the Devil. That’s according to a 2007 Gallup Poll, and that number has increased steadily since 1990, when only fifty-five percent believed in evil personified in the form of Satan.
Now, researchers are looking at the implications of belief in “pure evil” on psychological and social behaviors. Piercarlo Valdesolo is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Claremont Mckenna College and contributor to Scientific American’s “Mind Matters” blog, where we found his article, “The Psychological Power of Satan.”
The number of shocking events over the past year is overwhelming … the Newtown school massacre; the Boston Marathon bombings; devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma.
Although the specifics of each catastrophe varies, media coverage adheres to a similar script involving communal resilience, collective support, and predictions of post-traumatic stress among victims and witnesses – even those thousands of miles away. In recent years, a small branch of positive psychology has been exploring the possibility that adversity can be a source of strength and wisdom. Mark Obbie recently wrote about post-traumatic growth for Pacific Standard magazine.
Humans are vastly more social than most other mammals. Neuroscientists point to the development of our social brain as key to the survival of our species; early humans survived by cooperating with each other in the rearing of children, by hunting in bands, by organizing night watches. A battery of research reveals that people still need people.
Science is supposed to be objective, value neutral, a noble pursuit of truth – whatever that may turn out to be. In recent years though, some science skeptics have sought to associate objectivity with amorality - and meanwhile, a few well-publicized academic frauds and political battles over funding have revealed that researchers are just as capable at deception as anyone else. Despite these setbacks, research at the University of California Santa Barbara reveals that people do indeed carry deep and positive associations with the scientific method. Piercarlo Valdesolo wrote about the experiments for Scientific American.
One in thirteen people on earth use Facebook. It’s a staggering number, and evidence of the human desire to connect with others through social media. Research at the Human-Computer Institute at Carnegie Mellon and other places have found that passively following the lives of others on Facebook can have the opposite effects, triggering feelings of depression, envy, and isolation. Jessica Winter is senior editor at Slate, and argues that the hipster-centric photo-filtering social network Instagram, is even worse.
What makes you happier? This simple question lies at the heart of a new app called “Happier” – a social media community and iPhone app which collects and shares the little actions, moments and gesture that brighten their day. The app was developed with the idea that the key to happiness is focusing on the positive and plenty of people have joined so far. We wanted to know – are they any better off? Nataly Kogan is co-founder of the Boston-based Happier Inc. and she spoke with us about the app.
Long lines are a part life for most of us…at the DMV, grocery store, post office… we line up by choice for some things…maybe you’ve heard of people queuing up for hours outside the New York City bakery that sells the “Cronut” – an apparently delicious cross between a croissant and doughnut. Francesca Gino wrote about new research suggesting that one reason we’re willing to wait in long lines for midnight movies, the latest smartphone, or bizarre baked delicacies is because they help us learn more about ourselves. Francesca is a behavioral scientist and associate professor at Harvard Business School. She wrote about the psychology of waiting in line for Fast Company, and joins us now on the line.
Our favorite content of the week, wrapped up in one audio-licious program. This week, author Chuck Klosterman defines villainy, the Cronut craze catches a Harvard researcher's eye, head transplants are given an examination, robots roll into vinyards, and a pair of hard-partying vegetarians share their take on potato salad (spoiler alert: it's got Doritos in it!)
You know those individually wrapped chocolates that you find in office candy jars and Halloween sacks ? Turns out, the troublesome need to unwrap chocolates makes them hard to eat in certain settings, like the car, which is why some years back, Hershey released Reese’s Minis, small, resealable bags of candy designed to be snarfed on the go.
The growing emergence of self-portraits – “selfies” – shows no signs of stopping its domination of the social media sphere. By 2012, 86% of the U.S. population had a cell phone. Moreover, research indicates that six out of every ten women use their mobile devices to take self-portraits, most of which end up on Facebook. Narcissism, egotism and vanity are commonly associated with these snapshots – but our guest, Dr.Pamela Rutledge, argues that “selfies” are important, and expand on a rich history of self-portraiture. Pamela is the director of the Media Psychology Research Center.
The shock and horror of the Boston marathon explosions one week ago today gave way to an almost incomprehensible sequence of events leading to a dramatic day-long dragnet that shut a major American city and several surrounding neighborhoods down. Now, with one suspect dead and his younger brother in critical condition at a Boston hospital, citizens and media alike are grappling to fill in motivations and create narratives that we can understand. Among the most combed-over questions is whether 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev somehow radicalized his popular, athletic, seemingly well-adjusted 19-year-old brother Dzhokhar.
They may not be able to dream or feel emotion, but a recent study suggests that robots do a better job of getting accurate witness statements than their human counterparts. Cindy Bethel, is an assistant professor at Mississippi State University that specializes in human-robot interaction and the lead author of a study recently covered by The New Scientist. Also joining us is Deborah Eakin, the psychologist on the project.
Patrick Radden Keefe'sstunning investigation into mass shooter Amy Bishop's past has gone hyper-viral. The New Yorker writer joins us to talk about Bishop's 1986 shooting of her younger brother, and how family dynamics may have played into her 2010 murder of three colleagues at the University of Alabama.