December 10

21st Century Living

Monday’s Big Idea

Today's Big Idea: Altruism

Crowds tend to get a lot of bad press, and they also tend to be treated as pathological in the social sciences. We are at our best, it is often assumed, when we act as individuals. Crowds, on the other hand, bring about "the diffusion of responsibility."

This is one explanation for why a group of New Yorkers would stand idly by on a subway platform and not help a man who is stuck on the tracks and about to be killed by an oncoming subway. This is a disturbing psychological condition to contend with, but it may not hold true.

Recent research using data and virtual reality tests suggest that we can actually be at our best when we are part of a crowd, even when our own well-being is threatened. 

  1. 1 Would You Save This Man's Life? T...
  2. 2 The Wisdom of (Animal) Crowds
  3. 3 Are You a Psychopath? Take the Te...
  4. 4 The Wisdom of Crowds, Revisited: ...
   
  1. Would You Save This Man's Life? The Bystander Effect Revisited

    Would You Save This Man's Life? The Bystander Effect Revisited

    We have a blind spot when it comes to predicting our own moral and ethical behavior, but new research suggests we are better, not worse, when part of a crowd. 

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  2. The Wisdom of (Animal) Crowds

    The Wisdom of (Animal) Crowds

    Animal flocks, schools, and swarms perform extraordinary feats of collective behavior. How do they do it, and how does it help them?

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  3. Are You a Psychopath? Take the Test.

    Are You a Psychopath? Take the Test.

    Psychologist Kevin Dutton presents the classic psychological test known as "the trolley problem" with a variation. Take the test and measure you response on the psychopathic spectrum.

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  4. The Wisdom of Crowds, Revisited: When The Crowd Goes From Wise to Wrong

    The Wisdom of Crowds, Revisited: When The Crowd Goes From Wise to Wrong

    While groups may have been wise at the start of the experiment, as soon as individuals within the group became aware of others’ estimates and choices, the diversity of opinions plummeted.

    Read More…