Dating and Romance: The Problem With Kindness
Here’s a simple and sad fact. A lot of people who are married, or in long-term relationships, are not very compatible. Partners disagree about very basic stuff, like religion and politics and values, or they simply don’t find each other attractive. Just look at the divorce statistics. This raises a knotty and important question. If choosing a partner is such an important life decision, why do so many of us get it wrong? Why does the reality of a relationship fail so often to match our ideals? Obviously there are a lot of little differences that emerge over time, and people do change, but it seems like we should at least get the fundamental issues straight.
The Power of Two: Why Sharing Is Better
My wife and I watch a lot of movies at home. It’s one of our favorite pastimes. I also watch a fair number of movies by myself, if my wife is out of town or busy with something else. Both of these activities are enjoyable, and I like the occasional solitude. But I enjoy the movies more when we watch them together, and I’ve often wondered why. It’s not that we talk during the movie, or communicate in any way really. We’re mostly silent, but we’re side-by-side, and that in itself seems to enhance the experience of watching a movie. Psychological scientists, it turns out, have noticed this phenomenon, too, and find it intriguing.
The Price We Pay For Adventure
Imagine that you have an extraordinary opportunity—a once-in-a-lifetime chance to ascend Everest or sit with the Dalai Lama or rocket into outer space. This will be the peak experience of your lifetime and, what’s more, you will have the added pleasure of narrating your adventure for years to come. Or will you? Many of us hunger for special experiences, things none of our friends have done or will do. But do these adventures really make us happy in the long run? Are they worth having? Harvard University psychological scientist Gus Cooney is not so sure.
Lean On: Workers, Work and the Spouses Who Help Us Succeed
Sheryl Sandberg had a good year last year. She was named chief operating officer of Facebook, and also published the bestselling book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, which has sold more than a million copies and has sparked a movement among professional women. She is a perennial on Forbes’ list of most powerful women in business. Lean In is aimed primarily at women who aspire to leadership roles in the competitive world of business, but Sandberg makes it clear she is also talking to men who want to live in a more equitable world.
Is Racism Just a Form of Stupidity?
I think that a lot of us are shying away from an obvious truth, that the kind of blatant racial prejudice we are witnessing in Ferguson, Missouri, has everything to do with stupidity. I'm talking about low intelligence, lack of mental ability, cognitive rigidity. The Ferguson racists may be a lot of other things—hateful, insecure—but let's not sugar-coat what most fair-minded thinkers believe in their hearts: A person of intelligence cannot embrace such authoritarian and racist views. Intelligence is a scientific concept, something scientists can measure, and have for a long time.
Trauma of War, Illusion of Growth
Back in 2009, the U.S. Army undertook a dramatic transformation of its own culture. The country had been at war for almost a decade, with many soldiers repeatedly deployed to the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. The intense and cumulative stress of protracted conflict was taking a devastating toll—reflected in high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, family problems, and an all-time high in suicides. In response, the Army leadership embraced psychological science, especially some ideas of positive psychology that had previously been antithetical to the military’s warrior ethos.