Here are a few items that caught my attention:
- The Situationist discusses gift-giving and gift receiving. Dr. X adds that it isn't surprising that it can sometimes be quite difficult to find just the right gift. Like any human activity, gift-giving and receiving can carry multiple meanings -- some positive and some negative. The complexity of meaning expressed by a gift reflects the complex, often uneasy, intertwining of social relationships with our internal lives. There are situations in which giving or accepting a gift could be destructive, while in other circumstances giving and accepting gifts could be beneficial. And, the meanings could also be mixed, containing both good news and bad news for bearers and/or receivers. Consider that the narcissist's discomfort with the experience of need and gratitude might make it difficult for a narcissist to accept a gift. On the other hand, not receiving a gift might constitute a grave offense to the narcissist's sense of entitlement.
- In an fMRI study appearing in PLOS ONE, neuroscientists report that repeated exposure to media depictions of violence diminished response in cortical networks associated with behavior regulation. Diminished response in these networks has been associated with decreased control over reactive aggression. H/T: Deric Bownds
- Some notes on happiness at Cognitive Daily: (1) while in general happiness is associated with earning more money, there is a decline in earnings at the highest level of happiness. (2) the very happiest people have lower levels of political involvement and education than people who are just moderately happy. (3) at the highest levels of happiness, people are significantly more likely to say they're involved in a stable romantic relationship, but unlike for income, there's no drop-off at the highest levels of happiness. ... So it seems that while in certain domains, such as education and income, more happiness isn't necessarily a good thing -- but in relationships, the happier we are, the better. Dr. X adds that there are a number of other ways to look at this. For example, while it could be that discontent drives political involvement and/or career ambition at the highest levels, it could also be that at a certain point, greater political involvement or more money (or what is required to earn more money) diminishes happiness.
- The Economist on the advantages of beauty:
the accumulating evidence suggests that physical characteristics do give clues about intelligence, that such clues are picked up by other people, and that these clues are also associated with beauty. H/T: Mindhacks