Talking with your hands alters the perception of your words

A new study found that words are more accurately heard when accompanied by hand gestures.

  • A team of researchers from the Netherlands found that hands gestures, when used strategically, influence how certain words are heard.
  • Participants were 20% more likely to hear and interpret the words being spoken when accompanied by a matching hand gesture, and 40% as likely to hear the wrong word when the gestures did not match.
  • Previous research has suggested that certain hand gestures can signal extraversion and dominance, and that speaking with gestures in general tends to lead to being evaluated as warm, agreeable, and energetic.
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Why moral people tolerate immoral behavior

As morally sturdy as we may feel, it turns out that humans are natural hypocrites when it comes to passing moral judgment.

  • The problem with having a compass as the symbolic representation of morality is that due north is not a fixed point. Liane Young, Boston College associate professor and director of the Morality Lab, explains how context, bias, and tribal affiliation influence us enormously when we pass moral judgments.
  • Moral instinct is tainted by cognitive bias. Humans evolved to be more lenient to their in-groups—for example excusing a beloved politician who lines their pockets while lambasting a colleague for the exact same transgression—and to care more about harm done close to them than harm done farther away, for example, to people in another country.
  • The challenge for humans in a globalized and polarized world is to become aware of our moral biases and learn to apply morality more objectively. How can we be more rational and less hypocritical about our morals? "I think that clarifying the value that you are consulting for a particular problem is really critical," says Young.
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How showing remorse can save your relationships

Scientists ripped up kids' drawings. This is what they learned about relationships.

  • Forgiveness as a cultural act linked to religion and philosophy dates back centuries, but studies focused on the science of apologies, morality, and relationships are fairly new. As Amrisha Vaish explains, causing harm, showing remorse, and feeling concern for others are things children pay attention to, even in their first year of life.
  • In a series of experiments, adults ripped children's artworks and either showed remorse or showed neutrality. They found that remorse really mattered. "Here we see what [the kids] really care about is that the transgressor shows their commitment to them, to the relationship," Vaish says. "And they will seek that person out over even an in-group member."
  • As a highly social species, cooperation is vital to humans. Learning what factors make or break those social bonds can help communities, teams, and partners work together to meet challenges and survive.

Human sexual desire: Is monogamy natural?

Monogamy is often considered a key component of traditional marriages, but it's only half the story.

  • Depending on who you ask, monogamy is either essential to a successful marriage or it is unrealistic and sets couples up for failure.
  • In this video, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, psychologist Chris Ryan, former Ashley Madison CEO Noel Biderman, and psychotherapist Esther Perel discuss the science and culture of monogamy, the role it plays in making or breaking relationships, and whether or not humans evolved to have one partner at a time.
  • "The bottom line is, for millions of years, there were some reproductive payoffs not only to forming a pair bond but also to adultery," says Fisher, "leaving each one of us with a tremendous drive to fall in love and pair up, but also some susceptibility to cheating on the side."

Are humans wired for conflict? Lord of the Flies vs. Charles Darwin

We make school kids read "Lord of the Flies"—but it's only half the story.

  • The iconic novel "Lord of the Flies" paints a picture of human beings as naturally selfish and prone to conflict, but that is not the most accurate depiction of humanity, argues historian Rutger Bregman.
  • Bregman shares a true story from his research about a group of Tongan students who survived on an island together for 15 months in 1965, not through brutal alliances, but by working together and forming a functional community.
  • Darwin's observation of domestication syndrome is apparent in humans, argues Bregman; our evolution into friendlier animals can be seen in our biological features and responses. Evolutionarily speaking, being "soft" is actually very smart, and we evolved to cooperate with one another for mutual gain.
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