relationships

‘Nothing brings you peace but the triumph of principles.’ –Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Suppose you live in a deeply divided society: 60% of people strongly identify with Group A, and the other 40% strongly identify with Group B. While you plainly belong to Group A, you’re convinced this division is bad: It would be much better if everyone felt like they belonged to Group AB. You seek a cohesive society, where everyone feels like they’re on the same team.

What’s the best way to bring this cohesion about? Your all-too-human impulse is to loudly preach the value of cohesion. But on reflection, this is probably counter-productive. When members of Group B hear you, they’re going to take “cohesion” as a euphemism for “abandon your identity, and submit to the dominance of Group A. ”None too enticing. And when members of Group A notice Group B’s recalcitrance, they’re probably going to think, “We offer Group B the olive branch of cohesion, and they spit in our faces. Typical.” Instead of forging As and Bs into one people, preaching cohesion tears them further apart.

What’s the alternative? Simple. Instead of preaching cohesion, reach out to Group B. Unilaterally show them respect.Unilaterally show them friendliness. They’ll be distrustful at first, but cohesion can’t be built in a day. 

{ The Library of Economics and Liberty | Continue reading }

photo { Stephen Shore, Queens, New York, April 1972 }

He that is thy friend indeed

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Friendships are fragile, and most aren’t built to last forever. Circumstances change, bonds diminish. That she and I made it through the better part of a decade was a feat. In 1999 and 2000, the Dutch sociologist Gerald Mollenhorst and his colleagues interviewed 1,007 people between the ages of 18 and 65 about the people they regularly talked to and spent time with. When they followed up seven years later with many of the participants, only about half of the friendships were still going.

The rules governing romantic love are clearer.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

enamel on steel, 987 plates { Jennifer Bartlett, Rhapsody, 1975-76 (detail) }

You run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. You run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.

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During my clinical internship over 20 years ago, my boss, a psychiatrist, asked me to research how PMS prevents women from thinking clearly. I told him he was a relic of the Stone Age. Women were as consistently clearheaded as men, if not more so.

But recently, a researcher in my lab, Joe Andreano, an expert on female hormones, showed me some surprising data. As a woman’s levels of progesterone and estrogen vary, so does the connectivity between two brain networks: the default mode network and the salience network. These networks play key roles in creating your emotional life.

If I hadn’t seen the data with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it.

When scientists say that brain networks are “strongly connected” or have “increased connectivity,” it means that the neurons have an easier time passing information back and forth. In the case of the default mode and salience networks, increased connectivity means (among other things) that you may experience more powerful negative emotions. In earlier research, for example, my colleagues and I found that people reported more intense sadness when watching the sentimental movie “Stepmom” and more intense fear when watching the horror movie “The Ring Two” in the moments when these brain networks were more connected.

There has also been a flurry of recent studies indicating that certain cocktails of ovarian hormones can make women feel lousy, particularly a week or so before menstruation. Female test subjects who receive ovarian hormones designed to mimic the menstrual cycle, for example, report an increase in negative mood. They also remember negative material better, and they show enhanced stress responses. […]

 I’m not saying that women turn into helpless snowflakes for a few days each month. I’m just saying that the biology is real: Some women may have a short window before their period when, if something bad happens, they will feel more negative or stressed and will remember that unpleasant event more easily.

A few bad feelings or memories aren’t inherently harmful, of course. But this window of vulnerability, combined with other risk factors, could increase the odds of developing mood disorders like depression.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

enamel on linen { Christopher Wool, Untitled, 1998 }

‘Consciousness is nature’s nightmare.’ –Cioran

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Human-robot interaction in workplaces is a research area which remains unexplored.

In this paper, we present the results and analysis of a social experiment we conducted by introducing a humanoid robot (Nadine) into a collaborative social workplace.

The humanoid’s primary task was to function as a receptionist and provide general assistance to the customers. Moreover, the employees who interacted with Nadine were given over a month to get used to her capabilities, after which, the feedback was collected from the staff on the grounds of influence on productivity, affect experienced during interaction and their views on social robots assisting with regular tasks.

Our results show that the usage of social robots for assisting with normal day-to-day tasks is taken quite positively by the co-workers and that in the near future, more capable humanoid social robots can be used in workplaces for assisting with menial tasks.

{ PsyArXiv | Continue reading }

related { Is an Army of Robots Marching on Chinese Jobs? }

art { Hajime Sorayama }

he gone

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Romantic mouth-to-mouth kissing is culturally widespread, although not a human universal, and may play a functional role in assessing partner health and maintaining long-term pair bonds. Use and appreciation of kissing may therefore vary according to whether the environment places a premium on good health and partner investment.

Here, we test for cultural variation (13 countries from six continents) in these behaviours/attitudes according to national health and both absolute (GDP) and relative wealth (GINI).

Our data reveal that kissing is valued more in established relationships than it is valued during courtship.

Also, consistent with the pair bonding hypothesis of the function of romantic kissing, relative poverty (income inequality) predicts frequency of kissing across romantic relationships.

{ Nature | PDF }

photo { Garry Winogrand, New York, 1966 }

‘Elle lui rendit son baiser. L’appartement tourna. Il n’y voyait plus.’ –Gustave Flaubert

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Sometime after four in a dark and cold Italian morning, a young woman accompanied a band of men to a duck shoot. After it was over and the frigid hunters sat by the fire, the eighteen-year old Adriana Ivancich, the only woman in the gathering, asked for a comb for her long black hair. Nearly all the men in the party ignored her and kept up their talking. Ernest Hemingway, however, was not ever one to let a lady go unattended. After rooting around in his pockets, he produced a comb, broke it in half and gave it to her.

{ Long Reads | Continue reading }

photo { Self-portrait of Adriana Ivancich }

*swipes right*

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The convergence in physical appearance hypothesis posits that long-term partners’ faces become more similar with time as a function of the shared environment, diet, and synchronized facial expressions.

While this hypothesis has been widely disseminated in psychological literature, it is supported by a single study of 12 married couples. Here, we examine this hypothesis using the facial images of 517 couples taken at the beginning of their marriage and 20 or more years later. […]

The results show that while spouses’ faces tend to be similar at marriage, they do not converge over time.

{ PsyArXiv | Continue reading }

oil on canvas { Édouard Manet, Young Lady in 1866, 1866 }

Maybe it’s those two old crony aunts held them out to the water front. Queer Mrs Quickenough and odd Miss Doddpebble.

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S is a woman if and only if:

S is systematically subordinated along some dimension (economic, legal, political, social, etc) and S is ‘marked’ as a target for this treatment by observed or imagined bodily features presumed to be evidence of a female’s biological role in reproduction.

To be a woman is to be subordinated in some way because of real or imagined biological features that are meant to indicate one’s female role in reproduction.

{ Aeon | Continue reading }

is there a role for interoception in self-other distinction?

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In this study, we examine whether perceived loneliness is greater among the Baby Boomers—individuals born 1948–1965—relative to those born 1920–1947, and whether older adults have become lonelier over the past decade (2005–2016). […]

Overall, loneliness decreases with age through the early 70s, after which it increases. We find no evidence that loneliness is substantially higher among the Baby Boomers or that it has increased over the past decade.

{ PsyArXiv | Continue reading }

quote { Going at the heart of social cognition: is there a role for interoception in self-other distinction? }

Can we live without certainty?

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The next one on my list was Doris Devermont, an old flame of mine. With her I’d had the most honest relationship I’d ever had with a woman. The only thing I’d lied about was my name. I’d told her I was Teddy Novak… So she couldn’t track me down if I got her pregnant.

{ Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, 1982 }

art { “I Can’t Love Anyone!” from My Love #33, March 1975, originally published in My Love #19, September 1972 | Christian Marclay, Whomp, 2006 }

And then he’s drunk and never even told her that he cared

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Does a new partnership differ from its preceding one? […] This study sought to understand whether a new relationship differs from the one that preceded it.

[T]he answer to that question seems to be “mostly no.” One year into a new partnership (P2T2) our sample was no different from one year prior to the breakup of their previous union (P1T1) on relationship and sexual satisfaction, perceptions of relational instability, and the frequency of conflictual and intimate exchanges. While sexual frequency and perceived admiration did improve across unions in the full sample, there was no change for either in our follow-up analysis with the subgroup of participants where relationship duration at P1T1 corresponded to P2T2.

Given stability in the majority of constructs examined in this study, why does it seem as though a new partnership is different from those in the past?

Sandwiched between these points of stability are periods of change and upheaval: one partnership deteriorates and draws to a close and the bliss of new love is discovered before disillusionment pulls individuals back to old patterns. The deterioration prior to termination may be especially salient in perpetuating the belief that new unions are different.

{ Journal of Family Psychology | Continue reading }

photo { Fred Herzog, Man With Bandage, 1968 }

‘Ne nous prenons pas au sérieux, il n’y aura aucun survivant.’ –Alphonse Allais

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Contrary to the belief that happiness is hard to explain, or that it depends on having great wealth, researchers have identified the core factors in a happy life. The primary components are number of friends, closeness of friends, closeness of family, and relationships with co-workers and neighbors. Together these features explain about 70 percent of personal happiness.

{ Murray & Peacock, A model-free approach to the study of subjective well-being, 1996 }

related {  Having Poor Quality Relationships Is Associated With Greater Distress Than Having Too Few }

photo { Janice Guy }