Freitag, 21. Oktober 2016

Concept Creep: Psychology's Expanding Concepts of Harm and Pathology

Concept Creep: Psychology's Expanding Concepts of Harm and Pathology
Nich Haslam (2016)


Many of psychology's concepts have undergone semantic shifts in recent years. These conceptual changes follow a consistent trend. Concepts that refer to the negative aspects of human experience and behavior have expanded their meanings so that they now encompass a much broader range of phenomena than before. This expansion takes “horizontal” and “vertical” forms: concepts extend outward to capture qualitatively new phenomena and downward to capture quantitatively less extreme phenomena. The concepts of abuse, bullying, trauma, mental disorder, addiction, and prejudice are examined to illustrate these historical changes. In each case, the concept's boundary has stretched and its meaning has dilated. A variety of explanations for this pattern of “concept creep” are considered and its implications are explored. I contend that the expansion primarily reflects an ever-increasing sensitivity to harm, reflecting a liberal moral agenda. Its implications are ambivalent, however. Although conceptual change is inevitable and often well motivated, concept creep runs the risk of pathologizing everyday experience and encouraging a sense of virtuous but impotent victimhood.

[via David Schmitt]

Donnerstag, 20. Oktober 2016

"mammals are intensely affective creatures."

Jaak Panksepp
Konrad Lorenz über "Nachsehen" und "Nachdenken":

"Es war eine mehr als kopernikanische Wende in der Entwicklungsgeschichte des menschlichen Erkenntnisstrebens, als die Menschheit zum ersten Mal begann nachzusehen, anstatt wie bisher nachzudenken. Die nach Erkenntnis ihrer selbst und der sie umgebenden Welt ringende Menschheit hat zuerst das Nach-Denken gelernt und erst sehr, sehr viel später das Nach-Sehen! Diese geistesgeschichtliche Tatsache ist deshalb höchst merkwürdig, weil das einfache Nachsehen entwicklungs- und stammesgeschichtlich betrachtet zweifellos eine weit urtümlichere und ältere Leistung darstellt als das Nachdenken."

human diversity:

"Human beings ... are immensely diverse, not only in their physical characteristics, but even more in their behaviors, personalities, and capabilities."

John B. Carroll

Samstag, 15. Oktober 2016

Gorillas in our midst? Human sexual dimorphism and contest competition in men

Gorillas in our midst? Human sexual dimorphism and contest competition in men
Alexander K Hill, Drew H Bailey, David A Puts (2016)


The literature on human sexual selection has historically focused on the role of female mate choice, but cumulating experimental, correlational, and cross-cultural evidence suggests that male contest competition may have been more influential in shaping men's phenotypes. Cross-species comparison has shown similarities between humans and our closest extant phylogenetic relatives, the Great Apes, in male–male aggression, and archeological evidence also indicates a great antiquity for male–male violence. Compared to women, men possess substantially greater muscle mass, strength, cranial robusticity, physical aggression, pain tolerance, risk-taking, weapons use, and participation in coalitional aggression. Men also exhibit displays of physical prowess and acuity to the formidability of male conspecifics, as well as possessing a suite of traits, such as facial hair and low vocal pitch, that increase perceptions of dominance. These traits are consistent with having been shaped by contest competition over mates: they are sexually dimorphic, appear at sexual maturity, and predict success in male contests as well as success in mating and reproduction. While alternative explanations for some of these sexually dimorphic traits are possible, contest competition among males throughout human evolutionary history is the most parsimonious.