How Can A Nurturing Environment Reduce Bias, Prejudice and Conflict Between Groups?

The classic experiment that shows this happened in the 1950s, the Robbers Cave study (Sherif, Harvey, Hood, Sherif, & White, 1988).  An excellent 3-minute video summarizes how this classic experiment worked, which you can view at http://bit.ly/robbers-cave.  Now that study happened more than 60 years ago with some middle-class boys in state park by the name of Robbers Cave in Oklahoma.  The experiment happened in three stages: Stage one: The boys were randomly assigned to two groups, and never knew about the other group for a week. During the first week, each “team” (self named as the Rattlers or the Eagles),…

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Freaky Evonomic Calculations Drive America’s Border Problems

Drugs, violence, and lots of scangry (scared+angry) people pretty much summarizes the “bad” in America’s border problems. The “solutions” on the daily shout-casts on TV and the Internet are unlikely to work, because they don’t conform to what I’d call freaky evonomics, which is the bastard child of freakonomics and evolutionary science. Now, before you roll your eyes and scream that I’ve taken leave of all sensibility, read some of the data assembled—even if you think evolution is the invention of the devil. So why are all the really poor people in the U.S. and Central American making lots of babies…

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Freaky Evonomics: Dopamine Genes Running Across the Border

What makes people flee violence and endure danger of illegal border crossings to come to the United States? What makes people risk carrying illegal drugs across the border? And, what makes the millions of American citizens in the US crave illegal drugs in the US? One could blame bad parents, too lax or too harsh parents. One could blame believing in the wrong religion or no religion. Those judgments cannot see impossibly tiny dopamine genes that do not respond to social, physical, and biological events in a “moral way”. Those genes change how dopamine is expressed in our brains, and how…

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Can Children Be Taught To Have Empathy?

How do we cultivate the skills and values that people need to deal patiently and effectively with others’ distressing behavior? If you look at how young children learn to be empathetic you can see the key skills they need. The first skill is simply having an awareness of their own emotional reactions.  Imagine that four-year-old preschooler Ryan opens the lunch his mom prepared for him and starts to cry. In a high quality preschool, one of the adults might join him and talk empathically about how he is feeling: “Oh are you feeling really sad?” In doing so, she is helping him…

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