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Science in Society

Race, Violent Video Games, and the Grand Theft Fallacy

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Two horrific shootings occurred in Jacksonville Florida at the end of August 2018. Both tragic events occurred during football games, only about 5 miles from each other, and just days apart. The first shooting happened at a high school football game at Raines High School, where 99% of students are racial minorities. The shooting is believed to be gang related. The second shooting occurred at a video game football tournament in an open-air marketplace by a person from an affluent neighborhood.

Does Empathy Have a Dark Side?

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Empathy – defined broadly as the capacity to recognise, feel and/or react compassionately to others’ emotional states – has a tradition of being conceptualised positively.  Manifold societal movements seek to encourage a culture of empathic concern, and a pervading “empathy deficit” was of a particular poignancy to the 44th President of the United States.  In many ways, empathy is a positive social force.  Psychologists have linked a greater propensity to empathise to a multitude of desirable outcomes including

Designing to Avoid “Ordinary Unethicality”: A Q&A with Yuval Feldman

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Yuval Feldman, the Mori Lazarof Professor of Legal Research at Bar-Ilan University Law School in Israel, recently published the book The Law of Good People: Challenging States’ Ability to Regulate Human Behavior. The book examines how behavioral ethics could change legal design and enforcement. I started by asking him to explain what he means by “behavioral ethics.”

Is the Key to Successful Prosocial Nudges Reputation?

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In the last 30 years, the behavioral community has documented a myriad of quirks of altruism: we display warm glow; we’re weirdly sensitive to defaults and communication around norms, frames, and identity; we give readily, but are even quicker to exploit moral wiggle room or avoid the ask in the first place; we give most readily when observed.

How Soccer’s Video Assistant Referee (VAR) Influences Belief in Human Referees’ Competence

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This year’s FIFA World Cup was nothing short of spectacular. Goals, upsets, and late drama made it one of the best tournaments in recent memory. Not even beer shortages or playacting superstars could put a dent in the excitement.

Why Do Leftists Engage in Activism for Some Ethnic Groups But Not Others?

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Leftists’ solidarity with Palestinians is on the rise in the United States. Over the last two decades, support for Palestinians has nearly doubled among liberal Democrats. Some have even been willing to go to extreme means. In 2003, the American Rachel Corrie was killed by a bulldozer while fighting for Palestinian rights.

The Relationship Implications of Rejecting a Partner for Sex Kindly Versus Having Sex Reluctantly

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Romantic couples often find themselves in situations in which partners have discrepant levels of sexual desire, and research shows that conflicts of interest about sex predict negative relationship outcomes and are among the most difficult types of relationship issues to resolve.

What Happens When We Give Everything a Gender

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A few years ago, I had my first conflict with a colleague. It seemed trivial: we were arguing over toys. While it may have seemed like we were acting like the children who play with them, the conversation was much bigger than toys. It was about gender bias and inequality.

Support for Refugees Increases When Refugees Participate in Integration Programs

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The executive branch has a fair amount of power to open or close U.S. borders, as the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed in its recent decision to uphold President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

But ultimately, as in most democracies, a country’s leadership needs at least some support from citizens for its decisions. What influences how people feel and think about refugees, and how willing they are to help?

The Psychology of Social Class

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By the turn of the millennium, before the banking crash of 2008 and the subsequent years of economic austerity imposed on citizens by many western governments, there was a view – even among politicians in left-leaning political parties – that class-based politics was no longer relevant. In the words of the UK’s Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, “We are all middle class now.” These words were uttered in 1997, probably encouraged by a rising tide of prosperity that appeared to be benefitting most, if not all, members of society. Twenty-one years later, the world looks very different.

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