The Problem with Perspective Taking, plus more weekly links

thepsychlist_greenA selection of recent behavioral science news, articles, and resources of note:

  • How can you understand what it’s like to be someone you’re not? Many would suggest that you try to take the perspective of that person, that you walk a mile in their shoes. But as Paul Bloom points out, taking another’s perspective isn’t as straightforward or as beneficial as it might seem. Instead of walking a mile in their shoes, you might be better off spending those twenty minutes listening to what they have to say. (New York Times) (If you liked Bloom’s piece, check out our article Be Mindwise: Perspective Taking vs Perspective Getting by Nick Epley)
  • Companies and employees are reaping the benefits of automatic enrollment in retirement and health care plans. Schools have had similar success with automatic enrollment in school-lunch programs. Why not automatic enrollment for voter registration? Oregon launched automatic voter enrollment this year, and now Hillary Clinton is calling for the country to follow suit. (Bloomberg View)
  • A new book titled, The Censor’s Hand: The Misregulation of Human-Subject Research takes a very critical look at how Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) shape research. The author, Carl Schneider, suggests IRBs are a model for precisely how not to regulate. Schneider didn’t mince his words in a recent Q&A with Inside Higher Ed:

“Inside Higher Ed: The United States was home to the Tuskegee experiments, and even today, some researchers are accused of doing research abroad that would never be tolerated with Americans. Is there some need for IRBs, even if not in their present form?

“Schneider: The response to one social disaster should not be to create another. Yet a social disaster is what the fundamentally misconceived IRB system has turned out to be.” (Inside Higher Ed)

  • What explains the endowment effect?—the tendency to place a higher value on things that we own simply because we own them, famously shown with coffee mugs and sports tickets. Carey Morewedge and Colleen Giblin, in a new review article, examine the theories underlying the endowment effect and suggest that something other than loss aversion is at work. (Trends in Cognitive Sciences)
  • Now that Cuba and the United States are on better diplomatic terms, what can the two nations teach one another about promoting psychological health? While the US has the edge in technology, Cuba leads in organization, with psychological services integrated at every level of treatment. The APA recently sent several groups of psychologists to Cuba to begin what will hopefully be a fruitful collaboration between the two nations. (APA Monitor)
  • “In 1966, shortly after President Lyndon B. Johnson declared war on poverty, 14.7% of Americans were poor…In 2013, 14.5% of Americans were poor.” The issue of poverty, despite the billions of dollars and innumerable programs meant to address it, stubbornly persists. However, the data-driven methods of behavioral science are changing the way governments and organizations attempt to solve this pressing problem. (The Wall Street Journal)


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