Updated: The psychological origins of prejudice, discrimination, and racism

Are people “hard-wired” to discriminate based on skin color, ethnicity, religion, place of origin, gender, sexual identity, etc.? Is it hereditary? Do we have no choice? Or, is it learned? As children, are we taught to discriminate by our parents, our greater family, in school, in church, by our friends? If we learn to be racist, can we learn not to be racist? If so,…

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Climate change and human behavior

In the face of the many and significant challenges of a changing climate, how and why do humans act the way they do? Does it take a crisis for people to actually do something? And, when the crisis passes, does the action stop? Are human beings, collectively, doomed to failure due to inaction, denial, greed, corruption, and, the most challenging barrier, outright fear? Quick bibliography–articles…

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Revisiting: Politics and Fear

Whipping up fear is a common tactic in politics. Providing stark, seemingly life or death choices, us versus them, scapegoating, creating a false bogeyman to distract from real problems, using lies and disinformation … fear is used because it often works. The invoked fear is often based on racism and bias. It’s those “other people”–with a different skin color, from another place, who follow a…

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Revisiting: Scapegoats and self-blame

Scapegoating is “the act of blaming and often punishing a person or a group for a negative outcome that is due, in large part, to other causes.” Scapegoating is alive and well in the United States and many other countries. It’s not a new phenomenon.  Scapegoating has been going on for centuries–think of the witch hysteria and trials in Europe and America that lasted into…

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Crowds: behavior, social change, movement, collective action, social media, context, identity

Humans often gather into large groups–crowds. As part of crowds, do we act and think differently than we would if we were isolated or in a smaller group? Do large crowds represent dangerous and unstable situations? Is there actually such a thing as “mob rule”? Or, do crowds actually bring about social change? What about virtual crowds? Social media creates large virtual gatherings of individuals….

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The benefits of kindness

Be kind to others; it’s good for you and for them. “Doing good is, in fact, good for you.” There have been many supporting studies. Kindness of different kinds has “been related to increased life satisfaction, decreased depression, lower blood pressure”, a longer life, and more. Both the givers and the receivers of kindness see the benefits. Quick bibliography: Recent research about the benefits of…

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