Social psychology


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Yes! Photo by Westend61/Stefan Kranefeld/Gallery Stock
Essay/
Work
Stupefied

How organisations enshrine collective stupidity and employees are rewarded for checking their brains at the office door

André Spicer

Barry Falls/Heart Agency

Essay/
Language and linguistics
Naughty words

What makes swear words so offensive? It’s not their meaning or even their sound. Is language itself a red herring here?

Rebecca Roache

Image courtesy The British Library
Essay/
Social psychology
Disgust made us human

Our ancestors reacted to parasites with overwhelming revulsion, wiring the brain for morals, manners, politics and laws

Kathleen McAuliffe

A Mongolian shaman or böö sits with his child before a fire ritual during the summer solstice in June 2018 outside Ulaanbaatar. Banned under communist rule, shamanism has seen a resurgence in Mongolia since 1992, when the ancient practice became protected by the country's Constitution. Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty

Essay/
Social psychology
Masters of reality

The trances and healing powers of shamans are so widespread that they can be counted a human universal. Why did they evolve?

Thomas T Hills

Austin, Texas. 1963. Photo by Thomas Hoepker/Magnum

Essay/
Social psychology
Rejection kills

The brain makes no distinction between a broken bone and an aching heart. That’s why social exclusion needs a health warning

Elitsa Dermendzhiyska

Detail from The Ship of Fools 1510-1515 by Hieronymus Bosch. Musée du Louvre, Paris. Photo by Getty
Essay/
Cognition and intelligence
Not so foolish

We are told that we are an irrational tangle of biases, to be nudged any which way. Does this claim stand to reason?

Steven Poole

New York, 2009. Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Essay/
Beauty and aesthetics
Rise of the ripped

With bodies sculpted to look like comic-book heroes, today’s muscle men create an impossible template for masculinity

Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore

At a concert in Hyde Park, London. June 1975. Photo by Selwyn Tait/Sygma/Corbis
Essay/
Demography and migration
Against generations

Generational thinking is seductive and confirms preconceived prejudices, but it’s a bogus way to understand the world

Rebecca Onion

Oh human folly! Photo courtesy Wikimedia
Essay/
Economics
Platonically irrational

How much did Plato know about behavioural economics and cognitive biases? Pretty much everything, it turns out

Nick Romeo

Merry Company, 1562 (oil on panel) by Jan Matsys. Musee d'Art Thomas Henry, Cherbourg, France. Photo by Bridgeman Art/Getty

Essay/
Ethics
The ugly truth

We all know our culture puts a premium on good looks – does that mean that the ugly are oppressed?

Jonny Thakkar

Stanley Milgram and his 'shockbox'. Photo courtesy The Chronicle of Higher Education

Essay/
Bioethics
The psychology of torture

The Milgram experiments showed that anybody could be capable of torture when obeying an authority. Are they still valid?

Malcolm Harris