from the world's big
Can Traveling the World Make You More Immoral?
Studies show that participants who had more travel experience were more likely to cheat on tests, and believe in moral relativity.
Travel experience is valued in globalized society. “Loves to travel” is tacked onto countless dating profiles. Companies like Samsung send employees on vacations abroad for little reason other than to soak up culture. And more than ever, students are opting to study abroad before joining the workforce – up from 2 million in 2000 to almost 5 million in 2014.
Conventional wisdom holds that travel makes us well-rounded people. But what actually are the psychological effects of travel?
New research suggests there's a dark side lurking underneath the well-established benefits of foreign experiences.
Past studies show that travel can increase cognitive flexibility, defined as the ability to shift thoughts and adapt behavior in response to changing situational demands. The reasons may seem intuitive. Traveling within a foreign culture exposes people to strange situations that can shatter their ideas of normality, and render once-reliable behavioral patterns useless. In order to navigate foreign cultures, travelers need to be mentally flexible. They need to modify their old conceptions of reality to integrate new values, norms, and behaviors. And they need to be ready to utilize this new information as the always-changing environment demands.
New research, however, suggests the psychological benefits of travel come at a cost. An article published in the January issue of the Journal of Personality and Psychology titled "The Dark Side of Going Abroad: Broad Foreign Experiences Increase Immoral Behavior" showed that people with more travel experiences were more likely to cheat on tests presented by researchers, behavior they defined as "morally unacceptable to the larger community." The idea is that because travel requires people to break mental rules, it might also encourage them to break moral rules.
(Photo: JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
The article focuses on “broad” foreign experiences, which are experiences in multiple different countries. Broad foreign experiences expose people to many different – and possibly conflicting – moral codes, leading them to view morality as relative.
“The more sets of moral codes individuals are exposed to, the more likely they are to develop the generalized, meta-ethical view of moral relativism.”
The article notes that empirical studies have linked moral relativism to immoral behavior.
“In one experiment, Rai and Holyoak (2013) found that participants who read a relativist definition of morality were more likely to cheat in a subsequent task than participants who read an absolutist definition of morality. As individuals are exposed to foreign cultures, they may come to appreciate that different cultures uphold different standards on the same moral issues, and consequently, to construe moral rules and principles as culturally relative rather than absolute.”
One important distinction the study authors emphasized was that only breadth of foreign experience, not depth of foreign experience, increased immoral behavior. In other words, travel to multiple countries was predictive of immoral behavior – not long-term travel in one country.
To differentiate the effects of broad versus deep travel, researchers conducted eight studies of various methodology. In one study, international students were told they could win an iPad by completing an online anagram test. They were given nine minutes to solve nine anagrams. Participants self-reported when they solved anagrams by marking “solved” or “unsolved”, and they were told their chances of winning would go up by 10% with each anagram solved. But unknown to participants, the fourth anagram was unsolvable. The results showed that students who had been abroad for six months were more 15 percent more likely to cheat.
Notably, social class and age didn't appear to influence results in this study and others.
“The relationship between broad foreign experiences and immoral behavior was robust across a variety of cultural populations (anglophone, francophone), life stages (high school students, university students, MBA students, middle-aged adults), and seven different measures of immorality.”
Although breadth of foreign experiences seems to reliably predict immoral behavior, the authors said more research is needed on how the depth of foreign experiences affects morality.
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.
A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.
- The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
- Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
Brain images of a patient with acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis.
COVID-19 and the brain<p>A growing body of research reveals alarming neurological complications among COVID-19 patients. On Wednesday, for example, researchers from University College London published a <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/doi/10.1093/brain/awaa240/5868408" target="_blank">study</a> in the journal Brain that describes how some patients have suffered temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage, and other neurological problems concurrent with COVID-19.</p><p>Some patients suffered brain inflammation as a result of a rare disease called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which can cause numbness, seizures, and confusion. One patient in the study even hallucinated monkeys and lions in her home.</p>
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images<p>A separate study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198407/" target="_blank">Journal of Clinical Neuroscience</a> notes that some COVID-19 patients have also suffered neurological complications like impaired consciousness and acute cerebrovascular disease. The study notes that past viruses like MERS and SARS also seemed to cause neurological problems.</p><p>A troubling finding among this growing body of research is that some patients seem to suffer neurological damage even when respiratory symptoms aren't obvious. Additionally, scientists aren't sure whether damage from the disease will be permanent.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause," Dr. Ross Paterson, joint first author of the University College London study, said in a <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/ucl-iid070620.php" target="_blank">press release</a>. "Doctors needs to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes."</p><p>If you've been diagnosed with COVID-19 and want to enroll in the study, visit <a href="https://www.cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study" target="_blank">cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study</a>.</p>
Coronavirus layoffs are a glimpse into our automated future. We need to build better education opportunities now so Americans can find work in the economy of tomorrow.