How to Outsmart Your Brain's Inbuilt Xenophobia

Evolution has trained your mind to create in-groups and out-groups in a flash—but the lines are more flexible than you think.

Planet of the Apes (1968)

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Are We Born Optimistic? Or Is It a Coping Skill We Learn as Adults?

80% of adults are overly optimistic about life—where does that cognitive bias come from?

There's one brain bias that affects 80% of adults and it has a familiar name you may not expect: optimism. Not always thought of as a cognitive mechanism, the optimism bias leads people to overestimate the likelihood of positive outcomes and to underestimate the likelihood of negative outcomes. It can be hugely helpful in our social lives and in keeping us motivated even if the trade off is, at times, the denial of reality. So where does this cognitive bias come from? Are we born with it, or do we develop it as we grow? Developmental psychologist Lori Markson compiles research about how optimism works in babies and young kids, and how that may help us to understand why we adults are the way we are. This video was filmed at the Los Angeles Hope Festival, a collaboration between Big Think and Hope & Optimism.

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5 Key Findings from the longest-running study on human development

Following 14,000 people since the 1940s, these cohort studies offer insights into parenting, education, health, and the impact of poverty.

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The first British National Birth Cohort study was launched in 1946, in order to determine why the birthrate had been falling in the UK since the middle of the 19th century. Researchers ended up gathering data on nearly 14,000 babies. They included almost everyone born in March of that year in England, Wales, and Scotland. Researchers followed participants throughout the course of their lives and still are.

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How reading makes you more intelligent and empathetic

Get lost in a good book. Time and again, reading has been shown to make us healthier, smarter, and more empathic.

Fitness headlines promise staggering physical results: a firmer butt, ripped abs, bulging biceps. Nutritional breakthroughs are similar clickbait, with attention-grabbing, if often inauthentic—what, really, is a “superfood?"—means of achieving better health. Strangely, one topic usually escaping discussion has been shown, time and again, to make us healthier, smarter, and more empathic animals: reading.

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Ketogenic Diets Have "Profound Effect on Brain Function," Studies Find

Molecular biologists are hopeful about the results, but a long road lies ahead—so far this diet has only worked proven wonders on mice.

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