Stanford Psychologist: Technology Is Ruining a Generation of Men
Philip Zimbardo, who became a household name after conducting the Stanford prison experiments, argues that our online culture is disproportionately harming boys.
Stanford psychologist Philip Zimbardo, who became a household name after conducting the Stanford prison experiments, argues that our online culture is disproportionately harming boys, who watch more pornography, waste more time playing video games, and are increasingly bored with their sedentary office jobs.
The cause, Zimbardo explains in his new book "Man (Dis)connected: How Technology has Sabotaged What it Means to Be Male," is biological in nature. Men have what psychologists call "single-cue arousability," meaning one mere stimulus brings them closer to happiness, such as a naked person on a screen, when compared to women who require more complex stimuli to become aroused.
"Give a man the image of a pair of attractive breasts or a curvy backside and they are half-way to happiness, where women need multiple cues: They are aroused by men who are 'attractive and nice to children and self-confident.'"
We've long wondered if the Internet is like the crack cocaine of entertainment, but talking about online addiction as a substance-abuse problem is a misleading metaphor, says Zimbardo. The Internet is not a drug because drug addiction supplies its users with more of the same experience. Arousal addiction, which the Internet does provide for, requires the addict to always receive new stimulation.
And again, that's something boys are apparently more vulnerable to than girls.
Zimbardo wanders into controversial territory when he argues that the loss of male exclusivity in the role of breadwinner is damaging to male psychology. To be sure, equal opportunity is a good thing for society, and women should work on an equal standing with men if they wish to, "but [no longer being the sole breadwinner] has not, from men’s point of view, been replaced by anything equally motivating and centering."
On the other hand, masculinity was partly to blame for the obscure financial instruments that caused the 2007 financial crash that continues to retard economic growth — a byproduct of how men tend to experience status and ambition, explains Lionel Tiger.
Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.
- Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
- At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Do you have a magnetic compass in your head?
A new study, led by psychologist Jean Twenge, points to the screen as the problem.
- In a new study, adolescents and young adults are experiencing increased rates of depression and suicide attempts.
- The data cover the years 2005–2017, tracking perfectly with the introduction of the iPhone and widespread dissemination of smartphones.
- Interestingly, the highest increase in depressive incidents was among individuals in the top income bracket.
On Thursday, New Zealand moved to ban an array of semi-automatic guns and firearms components following a mass shooting that killed 50 people.
- Gun control supporters are pointing to the ban as an example of swift, decisive action that the U.S. desperately needs.
- Others note the inherent differences between the two nations, arguing that it is a good thing that it is relatively hard to pass such legislation in such a short timeframe.
- The ban will surely shape future conversations about gun control in the U.S.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.