By Stephen Russell-Lacy. ‘Dick head’ was what I thought when I indignantly watched a driver ahead of me at the traffic lights not moving forward when the signal changed to green. As a consequence of this, I and other drivers behind were held up and couldn’t get through before the red light came on again. … Continue reading Judging people – Why so hard to stop?
The idea of unconditional love sounds like caring for someone regardless of what might be in it for you. In other words loving others more than oneself. Giving generously with no conditions attached. But is this attitude possible? Can unconditional love exist? And if so is it desirable? Science Science can’t fathom any such concept … Continue reading Unconditional love – Can it exist and if so is it desirable?
You may feel undeserving of any happy destiny because you are fundamentally not okay with yourself. Well, for all I know you might well be consumed by a huge ego, be selfish, vain, bitchy, resentful, etc. But I would like to ask how do we really know when we are basically bad? That would be … Continue reading How bad a person am I?
The British live in a curiously tolerant country – one which allows a range of values, views about life, and philosophical and political beliefs. But one thing for which people are not tolerant is intolerance! The public see anyone as discriminatory, moralistic and rejecting who shows intolerance of diversity. And so to criticise the sex … Continue reading Just how tolerant should I try to be?
Is it good to talk about the private lives of public figures? Like the sexual seductions of Dominique Straus-Khan, managing director of the IMF? This is someone who was heading for high political office. Or the widely reported affair of footballer Ryan Giggs with Big Brother star Imogen Thomas? What is more important — the human right to a private life or the media’s freedom of expression? Can talking about people we know be a good thing?
Some people are just harder to get on with than others. Obvious examples are those who are highly strung, aggressive or manipulative. They may need spiritual healing, but what do we need? What is the secret to avoiding unpleasant scenes with people who cause us a bit of grief from time to time? To better deal with the awkward mob?
A clue can be found in the study of social perception. Research psychologist Daniel T. Gilbert, University of Texas at Austin has pointed out:
“We may strive to see others as they really are, but all too often the charlatan wins our praise and the altruist our scorn. Juries misjudge defendants, voters misjudge candidates, lovers misjudge each other.”
Social psychologists have researched the way we see others in terms of attribution theory. This is studying how people make inferences about the causes of a person’s actions. One thing they have observed is how our expectations about how other people will behave can distort our interpretations. We may assume that the little old lady who bumps into us at the supermarket is someone with unintended poor balance whereas the tattooed hooded youth might be thought to be trying to pick our pockets. Mistaken perception can thus arise from social stereotypes, such as race, sex and age.