from the world's big
Study: To Prevent Abuse of Power, Focus on Procedure, Not Results
If there's one thing that unites the good guys in movies and TV shows, it's a hatred of "procedure"—those legal niceties that get the bad guys out of jail and prevent the hero from finding the bomb in time. Who cares about regulations? Results are what matters. And it's not, of course, a sentiment confined to screenplays: Any news about terrorism or potential terrorism is followed by the cawing of pols and pundits trying to sound like Dirty Harry. Keep Guantanamo open! Don't stop water-boarding! Don't read Dzhokhar Tsarnaev his rights! Be glad the NSA is secretly monitoring everyone's phone calls! This is war—no time to be worrying about crossing t's and dotting i's! It's an easy message to sell in a fearful time (those movies primed us well for it). But according to this study in a recent issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology, it encourages abuses of power.
In a trio of experiments, the authors, Marko Pitesa of Grenoble's Ecole de Management and Stefan Thau of the London Business School, found that people who expected to be judged on the results of their decisions were far more likely to abuse the trust placed in them than were people who expected to be judged on the procedures they used to decide.
In one experiment, for example, they organized 61 male and 43 female undergraduates (presumably from Grenoble) into six-person groups, in which some were informed that they would be "in charge" and others told they would be expected to "work with others." While they waited for their teammates to arrive, each student was given a task, supposedly to fill the time. The task (which was in fact the real experiment) was to manage the money their group would receive for being a part of the experiment (five euros per person). Whatever they "invested," they were told, had a 50 percent chance of doubling and a 50 percent chance of disappearing. So each person's decision would determine how much fellow team members would receive. Moreover, the investor would get a 20 percent "investor's fee" on any profit from the decision. Best part: Each person, though deciding for others, was immune to risk—his or her own five euros wouldn't be in play. The idea was to duplicate the situation of a financial agent handling other people's money but not risking his own.
The rest of the experimental design cleverly combined a psychological question and an institutional one. Remember that some of the volunteers had been told they would be in charge, while others learned they were to be worker bees. This created two types of "investor"—those who were told they had power in the lab and those who were told they did not. Pitesa and Thau expected that the people who felt more powerful would be more reckless with other people's money.
However, the experimenters also wanted to test how this psychology of power interacts with different kinds of institutional safeguards. So before the task, they told some volunteers that they would be expected to explain to teammates how they had made their decision. Others were told they would have to focus on the good or bad results.
As you might expect, feelings of power made people more willing to take risks that might hurt others: the "bosses" were willing to gamble more of their teammates' money than were the non-bosses. But the difference between bosses and peons was not that great. Much more impressive was the effect of the two different forms of accountability. Those who expected to describe their decision-making process risked a great deal less money than those who expected to be judged on outcome. (Specifically, the "bosses" who focussed on possible results invested an average of €14.62 of other people's money, while those who instead focussed on procedure invested a mere €5.08 on average. )
The authors also got similar results in an online experiment with 63 lawyers (those who described themselves as powerful were more willing to recommend a risky investment than were those who felt less so, and those who had to account for their decision-making process were far less likely to gamble with others' fates than were those who knew they would be accountable for results).
The theoretical argument here is an attempt to move the theory of abuse of power away from a rationalist model, in which all people are expected to behave in the same way. (The conventional wisdom in the field, according to Pitesa and Thau, is that, like rational robots, we all try to get away with as much as we can, and that we are kept in check by rules that make it too costly to cheat others. They wanted to explore why some people cheat more than others in the same situation, and why some safeguards work better than others, even though the costs they impose are the same.)
You needn't be into those theoretical questions, though, to find the study rather haunting, given this week's news. Its first take-away here is that, as us non-bosses have suspected for millennia, power inclines people to do what they want, with less-than-average concern about how their decisions will affect others. And the second take-away is that if you want to inhibit this recklessness, don't focus on results. Focus on procedure. Or, to extrapolate (I think reasonably): If we judge powerful people by their results (like, oh, number of terror attacks prevented) they will behave more self-servingly more often than if you judge them by their procedures (as in, oh, is this actually constitutional?).
Illustration: 1940s-era anti-blabbing poster, from the Office for Emergency Management, Office of War Information, Domestic Operations Branch, Bureau of Special Services. Via Wikimedia
Follow me on Twitter: @davidberreby
Pitesa, M., & Thau, S. (2013). Masters of the universe: How power and accountability influence self-serving decisions under moral hazard. Journal of Applied Psychology, 98 (3), 550-558 DOI: 10.1037/a0031697
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?
- Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
- The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
- Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
How masturbation affects your brain...<p>Orgasms are a very common human phenomenon. The physical and mental health benefits have been researched frequently as a result, and yet, there is still so much to be learned about how our bodies and brains react to the chemicals and hormones released during and after experiencing this type of sexual release.</p><p>"The amount of speculation versus actual data on both the function and value of orgasm is remarkable" explains Julia Heiman, director of the <a href="https://kinseyinstitute.org/" target="_blank">Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction</a>.</p><p>Masturbation causes a rush of <a href="https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-dopamine" target="_blank">dopamine</a>, which is a chemical that is associated with our ability to feel pleasure. Along with the rush of dopamine that is released during an orgasm, there is also a release of a hormone called <a href="https://www.livescience.com/42198-what-is-oxytocin.html" target="_blank">oxytocin</a>, which is commonly referred to as the "love hormone."<br></p><p>This concoction of chemicals does more than just boost our mood, it also can play a key role in decreasing stress and promoting relaxation. Oxytocin decreases <a href="https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-cortisol" target="_blank">cortisol</a>, which is a stress hormone that is usually present (in high volumes) during times of anxiety, fear, panic, or distress. </p><p>According to BDSM and fetish researcher <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/dr-gloria-brame-colbert-ga/278388" target="_blank">Dr. Gloria Brame</a>, an orgasm is the biggest non-drug induced blast of dopamine that we can experience. </p><p>By boosting the oxytocin and dopamine levels and subsequently decreasing our cortisol levels, the brain is placed in a more relaxed, euphoric, and calm state. </p>
Masturbation boosts your immune system and raises your white blood cell count.<p>How do those effects on the brain from reaching orgasm translate to boosting our immune system and making our body healthier?</p><p>The increase of oxytocin and dopamine that causes a decrease in cortisol levels can help boost our immune system because cortisol (well-known for being a stress-inducing hormone) actually helps maintain your immune system if released in small doses. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.health24.com/Sex/Great-sex/incredible-health-benefits-to-masturbating-20181030-2" target="_blank">Dr. Jennifer Landa</a>, a hormone-therapy specialist, masturbation can produce the right kind of environment for a strengthened immune system to thrive. </p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15316239" target="_blank">A study</a> conducted by the Department of Medical Psychology at the University Clinic of Essen (in Germany) showed similar results. A group of 11 volunteers were asked to participate in a study that would look at the effects of orgasm through masturbation on the white blood cell count and immune system.</p><p>During this experiment, the white blood cell count of each participant was analyzed through measures that were taken 5 minutes before and 45 minutes after reaching a self-induced orgasm. </p><p>The results confirmed that sexual arousal and orgasm increased the number of white blood cells, particularly the natural killer cells that help fight off infections. </p><p>The findings confirm that our immune system is positively affected by sexual arousal and self-induced orgasm and promote even more research into the positive impacts of sexual arousal and orgasm. </p>
Masturbation can ease and prevent pain, which allows you to achieve the restful sleep that helps your immune system stay strong and healthy.<p>The benefits of masturbation have long been debated, but the more research that is done on the topic the more we understand that there are many positive reactions that happen in our bodies and brains when we orgasm.</p><p>Orgasms can help prevent or mitigate pain, which boosts the immune system, preventing cold and flu symptoms. </p><p>According to neurologist and headache specialist Stefan Evers, about one in three patients experience relief from migraine attacks by experiencing sexual activity or orgasm. Evers and his team <a href="https://www.livescience.com/27642-sex-relieves-migraine-pain.html" target="_blank">conducted an experiment</a> with 800 migraine patients and 200 patients who suffered from cluster-headaches to see how their experiences with sexual activity impacted their pain levels. </p><p>The study showed that 60% of migraine sufferers experienced pain relief after participating in sexual activity that resulted in orgasm. Of the cluster-headache sufferers, about 50% said their headaches actually worsened after sexual arousal and orgasm. </p><p>Evers suggested in his findings that the people who did not experience pain relief from migraines of headaches during their sexual activity did not release as large amounts of endorphins as those who did experience pain relief. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.sharecare.com/health/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-affect-immune-system" target="_blank">rheumatologist Dr. Harris McIlwain</a>, people who suffer from chronic pain have immune systems that are simply not functioning at full capacity - therefore, alleviating pain (through orgasm, as an example) can help boost the immune system. </p><p>Orgasms can also promote relaxation and make it easier to fall asleep. Serotonin, oxytocin, and norepinephrine are all hormones that are released during sexual arousal and orgasm, and all three are known for counteracting stress hormones and promoting relaxation, which makes it much easier for you to fall asleep.</p><p>There are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1233384" target="_blank">several studies</a> showing that serotonin and norepinephrine help our body cycle through REM and deep non-REM sleeping cycles. During these sleep cycles, the immune system releases proteins called <a href="https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-sleep-affects-your-immunity" target="_blank"><span id="selection-marker-1" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span>cytokines<span id="selection-marker-2" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span></a>, which target infection and inflammation. This is a critical part of our immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released throughout our bodies while we sleep, which proves the importance of a good sleep schedule to a healthy immune system.</p>
Masturbation promotes a high-functioning immune system; a healthy immune system prevents cold and flu.<p>The immune system is a balanced network of cells and organs that work together to defend you against infections and diseases by stopped threats like bacteria and viruses from entering your system. While there are many things we need to do to keep our immune systems functioning at optimal levels, masturbation (or other means of achieving orgasm) has proven to have positive effects on the immune system as a whole.</p><p>Just as bad habits (such as an inconsistent sleep schedule or harmful chemicals in your body) can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system. </p>
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.