from the world's big
Researchers say we have a 'narcissism epidemic'. So what's causing it?
Are you an important person? The answer you give may indicate to psychologists how narcissistic you are. Similarly, the culture you are born into plays an important role.
Are you an important person?
The answer you give may indicate to psychologists how narcissistic you are. And on a societal level, the answer people give is changing. In 1963, when adolescents were asked if they considered themselves important, only 12 percent answered affirmatively. 30 years later, that percentage had risen to 80.
Narcissism is on the rise in modern Western societies and scientists are trying to figure out why. Some hypothesize that individual narcissism follows from the culture someone lives in: the more individualistic the culture, the more narcissistic people tend to be.
Now a new study leverages a unique historical event—the division of Germany into east and west in the aftermath of World War II—to look at how cultural change affects individual personality. After Germany was partitioned among Allied powers following its surrender, Soviet control of the country's eastern regions affected a cultural shift toward Soviet-style communism.
The forty years of separation of former East and West Germany has provided researchers with a “natural experiment" to gauge how culture affects personality. In a recent study, the scientists administered an online survey amongst 1,025 German individuals who had to complete tests that measured their levels of narcissism and self-esteem. 343 of the participants had grown up in the territory of East Germany and 682 in the territory of West Germany before 1990.
The results showed that the participants from former West Germany scored higher on narcissistic grandiosity compared with the participants from former East Germany, even after controlling for gender and age. Interestingly, however, individuals from former East Germany had higher self-esteem than those from West Germany. This demonstrates that narcissism and self-esteem are not the same thing.
The researchers point out that:
Self-esteem, defined as global evaluation of the self, is related to narcissism. However, recent data provide evidence that narcissism differs from self-esteem in various domains. Narcissism and high self-esteem both include positive self-evaluations, but the entitlement, exploitation, sense of superiority, and negative evaluation of others that are associated with narcissism are not necessarily observed in individuals with high self-esteem.
In the United States, researchers have found symptoms of the “narcissism epidemic" in various places. Recently published books, for example, feature a more self-centered language. In comparison to earlier publications, the pronouns I and me tend to be used more frequently than we and us.
The use of narcissistic phrases such as “I am the greatest" has also increased between 1960 and 2008. At the same time, our popular culture seems mainly built on liberal conceptions of the self that give credibility to fame and self-focused memes like blogs, song lyrics, tweets, Instagram and so on.
The cultural environment—whether it is individualistic or collectivistic—affects the development of personality traits, including narcissism. Because individualistic cultures encourage a stronger focus on the self, their members may be more narcissistic than those of collectivistic cultures, which emphasize the importance of social values.
Ultimately, while you can't escape your culture, there are certain things you can do to decrease your narcissism and improve your self-esteem. Developing mindfulness, honoring your promises, respecting other people's space, needs and desires, as well as facilitating the process of self-acceptance and forgiveness are all good practices to start with.
What would it be like to experience the 4th dimension?
Physicists have understood at least theoretically, that there may be higher dimensions, besides our normal three. The first clue came in 1905 when Einstein developed his theory of special relativity. Of course, by dimensions we’re talking about length, width, and height. Generally speaking, when we talk about a fourth dimension, it’s considered space-time. But here, physicists mean a spatial dimension beyond the normal three, not a parallel universe, as such dimensions are mistaken for in popular sci-fi shows.
If machines develop consciousness, or if we manage to give it to them, the human-robot dynamic will forever be different.
- Does AI—and, more specifically, conscious AI—deserve moral rights? In this thought exploration, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, ethics and tech professor Joanna Bryson, philosopher and cognitive scientist Susan Schneider, physicist Max Tegmark, philosopher Peter Singer, and bioethicist Glenn Cohen all weigh in on the question of AI rights.
- Given the grave tragedy of slavery throughout human history, philosophers and technologists must answer this question ahead of technological development to avoid humanity creating a slave class of conscious beings.
- One potential safeguard against that? Regulation. Once we define the context in which AI requires rights, the simplest solution may be to not build that thing.
Duke University researchers might have solved a half-century old problem.
- Duke University researchers created a hydrogel that appears to be as strong and flexible as human cartilage.
- The blend of three polymers provides enough flexibility and durability to mimic the knee.
- The next step is to test this hydrogel in sheep; human use can take at least three years.
Duke researchers have developed the first gel-based synthetic cartilage with the strength of the real thing. A quarter-sized disc of the material can withstand the weight of a 100-pound kettlebell without tearing or losing its shape.
Photo: Feichen Yang.<p>That's the word from a team in the Department of Chemistry and Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Duke University. Their <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/adfm.202003451" target="_blank">new paper</a>, published in the journal,<em> Advanced Functional Materials</em>, details this exciting evolution of this frustrating joint.<br></p><p>Researchers have sought materials strong and versatile enough to repair a knee since at least the seventies. This new hydrogel, comprised of three polymers, might be it. When two of the polymers are stretched, a third keeps the entire structure intact. When pulled 100,000 times, the cartilage held up as well as materials used in bone implants. The team also rubbed the hydrogel against natural cartilage a million times and found it to be as wear-resistant as the real thing. </p><p>The hydrogel has the appearance of Jell-O and is comprised of 60 percent water. Co-author, Feichen Yang, <a href="https://today.duke.edu/2020/06/lab-first-cartilage-mimicking-gel-strong-enough-knees" target="_blank">says</a> this network of polymers is particularly durable: "Only this combination of all three components is both flexible and stiff and therefore strong." </p><p> As with any new material, a lot of testing must be conducted. They don't foresee this hydrogel being implanted into human bodies for at least three years. The next step is to test it out in sheep. </p><p>Still, this is an exciting step forward in the rehabilitation of one of our trickiest joints. Given the potential reward, the wait is worth it. </p><p><span></span>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
An algorithm may allow doctors to assess PTSD candidates for early intervention after traumatic ER visits.