You are here

Can We Foresee the Future? Explaining and Predicting Cultural Change

Image of futuristic skyline

What does the future hold? Our enduring fascination with predicting the future is reflected on the silver screen, as excitement builds over the Blade Runner sequel. We continue being mesmerized by ancient prophecies, such as Nostradamus' Quatrains. And we certainly pay very well to pundits, economists, and intelligence analysts who try to predict coming social, economic, and political events. Unfortunately, this abiding interest in prediction has not translated into the ability to forecast future events with much accuracy.

Rationalizing the “Irrational”

Image of smoldering, smoky cigarette butts in an ashtray

Economists are famous for attempting to rationalize seemingly irrational behavior. One of the more extraordinary is Gary Becker and Kevin Murphy’s theory of rational addiction, in which they hypothesized that addicts plan their consumption of addictive goods. When deciding whether to smoke a cigarette or take a hit, the theory goes, addicts choose in full knowledge and consideration of the health costs and the future costs of their smoking or drug use due to addiction.

A Conversation with Malcolm Gladwell: Revisiting Brown v. Board

Image of high school students walking down a hallway

Malcolm Gladwell is the best-selling author of books that explore the implications of behavioral science research on our lives and society. His books include OutliersThe Tipping Point, and What the Dog Saw. Last year, he launched a new podcast, Revisionist History, which recently began its second season. The podcast is dedicated to taking a closer look at the past, and Gladwell’s treatment of the events and people he examines is often informed by behavioral science.

Our Enemies Are Human. That’s Why We Want to Kill Them

Image of two opposing face statues, the left is white the right is red

On Saturday (August 12), James Alex Fields Jr. drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, injuring 30 people and killing Heather Heyer. Earlier that day, white supremacists nearly beat Dre Harris to death. Throughout the afternoon, violence erupted between white supremacists and counter-protesters.

For a Better “I,” There Needs to Be a Supportive “We”

ANN ARBOR---If you’re one of those lucky individuals with high motivation and who actively pursues personal growth goals, thank your family and friends who support you.

People who view their relationships as supportive may confidently strive for growth, a new study indicated.

Research conducted at the University of Michigan used data from samples from the United States and Japan to determine if personal growth is an outcome of an individual’s traits or the positive relationships they have with others.

Does biology explain why men outnumber women in tech?

Image of a baby laying down looking upwards towards parent

It’s no secret that Silicon Valley employs many more men than women in tech jobs. What’s much harder to agree on is why.

The recent anti-diversity memo by a now former Google engineer has pushed this topic into the spotlight. The writer argued there are ways to explain the gender gap in tech that don’t rely on bias and discrimination – specifically, biological sex differences. Setting aside how this assertion would affect questions about how to move toward greater equity in tech fields, how well does his wrap-up represent what researchers know about the science of sex and gender?

You’re Not Alone in Feeling Alone

Believing you have fewer friends than your peers can contribute to unhappiness

Feel like everyone else has more friends than you do? You’re not alone— but merely believing this is true could affect your happiness.

A new study from the University of British Columbia, Harvard Business School and Harvard Medical School has found that new university students consistently think their peers have more friends and spend more time socializing than they do. 

Looking for Similarities Can Bring Marginalized Groups Together

Image of the American flag

When African-American NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem in August 2016, he said it was in protest of “a country that oppresses Black people and people of color.” Soon after, National Women’s Soccer League player Megan Rapinoe became the first non-Black professional athlete to also kneel during the national anthem in solidarity with Kaepernick. She explained her support by highlighting commonalities between her own experiences as a gay woman and the experiences of racial minorities.

So Many in the West are Depressed Because They’re Expected Not to Be

Image of young woman laying on the floor using her laptop

Depression is listed as the leading cause of disability worldwide, a standing to which it has progressed steadily over the past 20 years. Yet research shows a rather interesting pattern: depression is far more prevalent in Western cultures, such as the US, Canada, France, Germany and New Zealand, than in Eastern cultures, such as Taiwan, Korea, Japan and China.

Pages