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Department of Human Behavior (by Washington Post)

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  • Between Hubris and Vision
    President Obama appears serenely confident as he goes about fixing the worst global financial crisis in more than half a century while simultaneously revamping the national health-care system, changing the way Americans use and produce energy, giving tax breaks to 95 percent of all households, an... link to source

  • The Rational Underpinnings of Irrational Anger
    "I know how unpopular it is to be seen as helping banks right now, especially when everyone is suffering in part from their bad decisions. I promise you, I get it. But I also know that in a time of crisis, we cannot afford to govern out of anger." link to source

  • The Computer as a Road Map to Unknowable Territory
    Last year, as the financial meltdown was getting underway, a scientist named Yaneer Bar-Yam developed a computer model of the economy. Instead of the individuals, companies and brokers that populate the real economy, the model used virtual actors. The computer world allowed Bar-Yam to do what... link to source

  • How a Self-Fulfilling Stereotype Can Drag Down Performance
    Here's a trick question, so think carefully before you answer: If someone mentions the word "beast" to you, which word would you match it with? link to source

  • Why the Ideological Melting Pot Is Getting So Lumpy
    Americans like to live in diverse communities. At least, that's what they say. link to source

  • Mass Suffering and Why We Look the Other Way
    When President-elect Barack Obama, an early opponent of the Iraq war, asked Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton -- who helped to authorize the war -- to be his secretary of state, many liberals scratched their heads. link to source

  • High-Status Criminals Face Greatest Public Wrath
    Let's say the FBI hears a senior elected official on a tapped telephone line demanding kickbacks in exchange for favors and shaking down donors for campaign contributions in exchange for plum contracts. link to source

  • In Face of Tragedy, 'Whodunit' Question Often Guides Moral Reasoning
    When nearly 200 people in India were killed in terrorist attacks late last month, the carnage received saturation media coverage around the globe. When nearly 600 people in Zimbabwe died in a cholera outbreak a week ago, the international response was far more muted. link to source

  • Who Are the Better Managers -- Political Appointees or Career Bureaucrats?
    Every time the White House changes hands between the Democrats and the Republicans, the outgoing party quickly sees the virtues of staffing government departments with competent managers. The incoming party invariably seeks to reward loyal campaign operatives with political appointments. link to source

  • Big Political Donors Just Looking for Favors? Apparently Not.
    The Center for Responsive Politics recently estimated that it cost $5.8 billion to finance the 2008 general elections. To most people that is a staggeringly large sum and evidence of the profoundly corrupting role that money plays in politics, but to some very smart political watchers, the better... link to source

  • Your Neighbors Could Find Out, So You'd Better Vote
    After nearly two years of political jockeying for the presidency, hundreds of millions of dollars of advertising and wall-to-wall campaign coverage in the media, nearly half of all Americans eligible to cast ballots in the presidential election may not bother to vote. Turnout for primaries, as well... link to source

  • Does Your Subconscious Think Obama Is Foreign?
    A few years ago, psychologists Mahzarin Banaji and Thierry Devos showed the names of a number of celebrities to a group of volunteers and asked them to classify the well-known personalities as American or non-American. The list included television personality Connie Chung and tennis star Michael ... link to source

  • My Team vs. Your Team: The Political Arena Lives Up to Its Name
    With America divided right down the middle for the third presidential election in a row, most people would not be surprised to hear that Democratic and Republican partisans perceive a widening gap between their presidential choices. In 2004, for example, die-hards in both parties felt that the... link to source

  • The Power of Political Misinformation
    Have you seen the photo of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin brandishing a rifle while wearing a U.S. flag bikini? Have you read the e-mail saying Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama was sworn into the U.S. Senate with his hand placed on the Koran? Both are fabricated -- and... link to source

  • 9/11, Iraq and the Desensitization of the Victimized
    In the days after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, with the twin towers vanished from Manhattan's skyline, a poem by W.H. Auden could have been the song of a wounded nation. "September 1, 1939," written on the eve of World War II, seemed eerily prescient: link to source

  • The Oprah Effect
    Political conventions, like all forms of public relations, carry the risk of whiplash. Last week in Denver, for example, Bill Clinton said Barack Obama "has a remarkable ability to inspire people, to raise our hopes and rally us to high purpose" -- all of which sounded a little different from the... link to source

  • Why Fluff-Over-Substance Makes Perfect Evolutionary Sense
    Consider these scenarios. Scandal A: A prominent politician gets caught sleeping with a campaign aide and plunges himself into an ugly paternity dispute -- all while his cancer-stricken wife is fighting for her life. link to source

  • Happiness on the Medal Stand? It's as Simple as 1-3-2.
    Nearly a century ago, American middle-distance runner Abel Kiviat entered the Stockholm Olympics as the odds-on favorite to win the 1,500-meter race, an event in which he held the world record. Kiviat had the lead 1,492 meters into the race but was passed in the final eight meters by Britain's... link to source

  • The Sprinter's Brain
    If American sprinters Tyson Gay and Walter Dix reprise their race in the U.S. Olympic trials at the Olympic finals in Beijing, you will see the athletes crouch low over the starting blocks. Gay's right foot will be in the rear position on the blocks; Dix prefers to have his left foot in the rear ... link to source

  • How Terrorist Organizations Work Like Clubs
    Days before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Osama bin Laden left his compound in Kandahar in Afghanistan and headed into the mountains. His driver, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, traveled with him. As U.S. and Northern Alliance forces stood poised to capture Kandahar a few months later, bin Laden told Hamdan t... link to source

  • When Play Becomes Work
    It happens all the time: Two guys in a garage come up with a cool new technology -- and dream of making it big. A thousand people take time off work to campaign for a visionary politician because they feel they are doing something to change the world. A million kids hit baseballs -- and wonder what... link to source

  • The Face of Innocence
    In May, the baby-faced chief executive of IndyMac Bancorp, Michael Perry, lashed out at critics who said the bank was on weak footing: "Given the decline in our stock price, some people have questioned IndyMac's survivability in the current environment. I am here to tell you that I believe we hav... link to source

  • Sideline Rage -- Sports Parents Go Berserk
    Among psychologists who study sports, there is a code word for parents who lose their temper standing on the sidelines of their children's soccer, baseball and football games: THOSE parents -- Tempestuous, Harried, Overwrought, Self-absorbed and Emotional. link to source

  • Packing Protection or Packing Suicide Risk?
    Seventeen years ago, a couple of criminologists at the University of Maryland published an interesting paper about the 1976 District ban on handguns -- a ban that was recently overturned by the Supreme Court on the grounds it was inimical to the constitutional right of Americans to bear arms to p... link to source

  • Subprime Mortgages and Race: A Bit of Good News May Be Illusory
    Subprime mortgages have been linked to a meltdown in housing and questionable Wall Street practices, and they may have been the original domino that set off America's current economic crisis. link to source

  • Financial Hardship and the Happiness Paradox
    The United States is awash in gloom. Overwhelming majorities of Americans say they are dissatisfied with the country's economic direction, and the intensity of unhappiness is greater than it has been in 15 years, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll. The answer, pundits, politicians... link to source

  • Looking to Avoid Aggressive Drivers? Check Those Bumpers.
    Three horrors await Americans who get behind the wheel of a car for a family road trip this summer: the spiraling price of gas, the usual choruses of "are-we-there-yet?" -- and the road rage of fellow drivers. link to source

  • Taking More Risks Because You Feel Safe
    The housing market is in free fall: Quick -- let's protect homeowners against foreclosure. link to source

  • When Disadvantages Collide
    One hundred forty-three years ago, women's suffrage advocate Elizabeth Cady Stanton faced a conundrum: With the Civil War over, Stanton had to decide whether to support the 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution, which enabled black men to vote -- at a time when white women such as herself... link to source

  • When We Cook Up a Memory, Experience Is Just One Ingredient
    People hate Mondays. And they love Fridays. The Carpenters crooned about being blue in "Rainy Days and Mondays." The restaurant chain T.G.I. Friday's might restrict its clientele to workaholics if it were to rename itself T.G.I. Monday's. link to source

  • The Magic Ingredient: Party Unity
    Hillary Rodham Clinton has half a dozen good reasons she thinks she is the best Democratic candidate for president. They are called Pennsylvania and Ohio, Arkansas and Nevada, New Jersey and New Mexico -- states she has won in the Democratic primary contest. link to source

  • Where the Conscience Meets the Checkbook
    If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men's cottages princes' palaces. link to source

  • The Candidate, the Preacher and the Unconscious Mind
    On the eve of crucial presidential primaries in Indiana and North Carolina, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has found himself dogged by questions about his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. As the Democratic front-runner's popularity has suffered after public statements by Wright about ra... link to source

  • Clinton, Obama and the Narcissist's Tale
    Put yourself in the shoes of Sen. Barack Obama or Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. You are widely seen by Democratic voters as a transformational presidential candidate. Democrats are nearly evenly divided between you and your competitor, and you think you are the best candidate for your party -- and... link to source

  • What Obama Might Learn From Emily Dickinson
    Tell all the Truth but tell it slant/Success in Circuit lies/Too bright for our infirm Delight/The Truth's superb surprise . . . link to source

  • Lost in the Smoke-Filled Room: Unexpected Talent
    If this were Britain, Russia or India, Rudy Giuliani '08 caps would not be on the clearance racks. In those countries, where bigwigs and insiders get to nominate party leaders, the former Republican front-runner and establishment favorite would have long ago been anointed the winner. link to source

  • A Dose of Libertarian Paternalism
    About 25 years ago, Cass Sunstein opened a retirement account that had two portfolios. One was mostly bonds, the other mostly stocks. Like many academics who use the TIAA-CREF investment program, Sunstein divided his money equally between stocks and bonds. link to source

  • Hillary Clinton and the Action Bias
    On Oct. 10, 2002, Hillary Rodham Clinton stood in the Senate to explain why she was authorizing President Bush to use force against Iraq: "In balancing the risks of action versus inaction, I think New Yorkers who have gone through the fires of hell may be more attuned to the risk of not acting. I... link to source

  • Unequal Perspectives on Racial Equality
    Imagine that you are waiting in line to be born . . . Presently, you are scheduled to be born white. However, you are offered an alternative arrangement. In exchange for a cash gift, to be deposited in a bank account for you when you are born, you can choose to instead be born black. link to source

  • Eliot Spitzer and the Price-Placebo Effect
    In Eliot Spitzer's sex scandal and tragicomic downfall, the question that bugged many people did not have to do with ethics or politics, but whether Spitzer got a raw deal. link to source

  • Petroleum Feeds Patriarchy
    Climate change. Pollution. Financial expense. Our gas-guzzling ways have long been associated with a variety of problems, but disturbing evidence now points to a new dimension of our love affair with petroleum: Oil consumption and high oil prices hurt the political, social and economic development... link to source

  • Rules About Delegates Can Sway an Election
    Sen. John McCain's quest for the Republican presidential nomination was once seen as dead, but like those robots in the "Terminator" movies that reassemble themselves after being blown to smithereens, he came back. Five years ago, Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) was a virtually unknown African American ... link to source

  • For Political Candidates, Saying Can Become Believing
    John McCain once called televangelists Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell "agents of intolerance," but now the Republican senator from Arizona is currying favor with social conservatives. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) now opposes the Iraq war, although she used to support it. Sen. Barack Obama... link to source

  • Why Being the GOP's No. 2 Isn't So Bad
    Through much of the Republican presidential primary, Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney could barely restrain their contempt for each other. During one Republican debate in New Hampshire in early January, McCain landed a zinger that summed up Romney's opportunistic... link to source

  • Care to Know the Motivation Behind That Gift, Love?
    If you happen to stop by a Victoria's Secret store this Wednesday evening, on the eve of Valentine's Day, you will learn something fascinating about human nature that will tell you a lot about people and relationships. link to source

  • Why Voters Play Follow-the-Leader
    What do you think is more dangerous? Terrorists getting their hands on a biological weapon that can be smuggled into the country or another hurricane like Katrina? Which is the smarter way to keep Social Security solvent? Raise the retirement age or raise taxes? How can the current economic crisi... link to source

  • The Science of Presidential Complexity
    Mitt Romney wants to round up 12 million illegal immigrants and deport them. John Edwards wants to put an end to lobbyists. All the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates rail against the ways of Washington. link to source

  • 'Attraction Effect' Helps Voters Pick From the Pack
    Some years ago, a political scientist conducted an interesting experiment that speaks to the fractured race for the Republican presidential nomination, which now has six candidates, five issues, and four potential front-runners. link to source

  • Good Options Can Mask Bad Choices
    Take a step back from the Republican and Democratic presidential primary races and you will see a sharp difference between the two. link to source

  • Obama's Iowa Victory Fits Democratic Trend
    According to conventional wisdom, front-runners win presidential nominations. Democrats and Republicans who start the race for a presidential nomination with the largest amount of money and the best poll numbers are supposed to be the ones most likely to walk away with victory months later. link to source

  • Vote Your Conscience. If You Can.
    Two sociologists and a mathematician recently conducted an experiment that provides an intriguing window into the presidential candidate selection that begins this week. Matthew Salganik, Duncan Watts and Peter Sheridan Dodds had a large group of people rate 48 songs. Based on these ratings, the... link to source

  • Reminders of Mortality Bring Out the Charitable Side
    Scrooge crept towards it, trembling as he went; and following the finger, read upon the stone of the neglected grave his own name, Ebenezer Scrooge . . . "Spirit!" he cried, tight clutching at its robe, "hear me! I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been . . . " link to source

  • Bad Ideas Can Be Contagious
    Nearly four decades ago, psychologist Stanley Milgram had a volunteer stand stock still on a busy New York sidewalk and look up at the sky. About one in every 25 passersby stopped to look up, too. When five volunteers were recruited to sky-gaze, nearly one in five passersby stopped to look up. link to source

  • The Christmastime Self-Esteem Paradox
    Social psychologist William B. Swann once had a group of married people evaluate their spouses even as their spouses evaluated them. People with high self-esteem, the psychologist found, felt closer to their partners when they received positive evaluations. People with low self-esteem, however, felt... link to source

  • Wondering Wall Street's Mood? Look Up
    Forget about buying low and selling high. If you are worried about the recent volatility in the stock market, perhaps you should let the weather be your guide. link to source

  • With Power Comes a Selfish Point of View
    In the interest of promoting democracy, Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, recently announced that he had to lock up most of his country's democracy activists. And because he wanted the Pakistani Supreme Court to independently rule on whether he could continue as president, Musharraf also... link to source

  • Count Today's Calories, And Check Your Wallet
    What do the war in Iraq, your Christmas shopping and this week's Thanksgiving dinner have in common? link to source

  • The Myth of the Iron Lady
    If you consult the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, which is democratically created by Internet users, you will see a pattern emerge in the phrases used to describe the first female leaders of many countries. link to source

  • Go for It on Fourth Down, Coach? Maybe You Should Ask an Egghead.
    With just over five minutes to play in yesterday's game against the New York Jets, the Washington Redskins found themselves on their own 23-yard line facing a fourth and one. The team, which was ahead by just three points, elected to do what teams normally do in such situations: They played it safe... link to source

  • One Thing We Can't Build Alone in Iraq
    When Columbia University sociologist Peter Bearman dived into the world of the white-gloved workers who open the front doors of expensive New York apartment buildings, he found that most people who applied for jobs as doormen never got one. Most doormen, however, had not applied for their jobs. link to source

  • Hoping Someone Else Fixes Everyone's Problem
    Let's say there are 10 houses on your street and a giant pothole develops right in the middle of the block. Everyone benefits if the pothole gets fixed, but that might require multiple calls to municipal authorities and a lot of hassle. Since every resident benefits even if he or she does nothing... link to source

  • When Immigration Goes Up, Prices Go Down
    Last week, a gallon of gas at an Exxon station in the tony suburb of Bethesda cost $2.99. link to source

  • The Inconsistent Waffle Factor
    If you were Barack Obama, you would be scratching your head, too. link to source

  • Confessions Not Always Clad in Iron
    In the courts and in Congress, Sen. Larry Craig is fighting to withdraw his guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge that may suggest he tried to solicit sex from a man in June at a Minneapolis airport bathroom. Rather than resign yesterday, as the senator had promised and Republicans had hoped, Craig... link to source

  • In Judging Risk, Our Fears Are Often Misplaced
    Shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, psychologist Jennifer Lerner conducted a national field experiment: She asked a random sampling of Americans how likely it was that they would be the victim of a terrorist attack in the next 12 months. link to source

  • Lessons in Forced Democracy
    Four years ago, during a speech in Manila, President Bush drew an analogy between the history of the Philippines and the history he was rewriting in Iraq. link to source

  • Along With Grief, 9/11 Survivors Find Resolve
    John Duffy lost 67 of his colleagues at the firm of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods six years ago during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Among the dead was Duffy's son Christopher. The investment banking firm, located in the South Tower of the World Trade Center, was among the companies hit hardes... link to source

  • The Insurgency's Psychological Component
    At the core of this fall's debate over Iraq lies one simple question: Can an increased number of U.S. troops subdue the Iraqi insurgency? link to source

  • Spending More for a Little Solace
    As big Labor Day sales roll around, computer stores will tell you about laptops that now come with biometric fingerprint readers. Car companies will talk about "variable air suspension" features that allow you to change the ride of a car, depending on terrain. And video game manufacturers will ha... link to source

  • The Color of Health Care: Diagnosing Bias in Doctors
    Long before word recently broke that white referees in the National Basketball Association were calling fouls at a higher rate on black athletes than on white athletes, and long before studies found racial disparities in how black and white applicants get called for job interviews, researchers no... link to source

  • Hot and Cold Emotions Make Us Poor Judges
    Why would David Vitter, a U.S. senator with four young children, have gotten involved with a seedy escort service? Why would Michael Vick, a gifted NFL quarterback, get mixed up with the sordid world of dog fighting? Why would Bill Clinton, a Rhodes scholar, six-time governor and president of the... link to source

  • Bush and Counterfactual Confidence
    In the face of mounting public and political opposition to the war in Iraq, recent reports from the White House suggest that President Bush remains serenely confident. link to source

  • The Home Run King and I
    Exhibit A: Sometime over the next few days, a San Francisco athlete will break baseball's most treasured record. Despite his achievement of hitting more home runs than anyone else in Major League Baseball, Barry Bonds will be greeted with rage, ridicule and vast amounts of spit -- because many pe... link to source

  • Campaign Contributions Change Priorities, Not Beliefs
    There are two ways to think about the staggering amounts of money given by special interest groups to politicians -- the type of contributions that were detailed for the last quarter in reports filed yesterday by presidential candidates and members of Congress. link to source

  • Bush: Naturally, Never Wrong
    Psychologists once conducted a simple experiment with far-reaching implications: They asked people to describe an instance in their lives when they had hurt someone and another instance when they had been hurt by someone else. The incidents that people described were similar whether they saw... link to source

  • More Civil Wars, And More Players, Too
    A few days ago, Hamas fighters stormed Fatah strongholds in Gaza that were allied with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and effectively took control of one of the two pillars of the evolving Palestinian state. Fatah groups struck back in the West Bank, the other Palestinian pillar, and... link to source

  • Why We Don't Go for It
    This year's National Basketball Association playoffs recently provided not one but two examples of a very interesting facet of human decision making. Even if you are not a sports fan, these moments tell you something about human nature. link to source

  • Why Torture Keeps Pace With Enlightenment
    In the year 65, the Roman emperor Nero discovered that a group of nobles had hatched a conspiracy to kill him. The tyrant captured the suspects one by one and threatened them with torture; most confessed and implicated others. One of the conspirators, Epicharis, was publicly tortured -- her bones... link to source

  • Out of Unenforceable Laws, Amnesties Are Born
    The ambitious immigration overhaul package that Congress is studying has drawn criticism from conservatives who say it offers amnesty to lawbreakers, and from immigration advocates who say it will not do enough to bring millions of people out of the shadows. link to source

  • The Marriage Penalty
    It's almost June, which means we should soon start to hear the peal of wedding bells. link to source

  • Are We Judging Actions, Or the People Behind Them?
    Like lunar and solar eclipses, there are some Washington phenomena that are so common they ought to have distinct names. Here is one: A public figure comes to be hated by large numbers of people. But the person cannot be prosecuted or punished, perhaps because his behavior did not involve a crime so... link to source

  • A Nod to Irresponsibility
    Accountability is in the air in Washington. At one end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Paul Wolfowitz is struggling to save his job as president of the World Bank after getting caught arranging a sweetheart deal for his, well, sweetheart. A few blocks down the road, President Bush faces endless questions... link to source

  • Wariness, Not Hatred, Keeps Civil Wars Raging
    Here is a measure of the state of the war in Iraq: The number of Iraqis dying each month now rivals the total number of people who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. link to source

  • When Seeing Is Disbelieving
    Four years ago tomorrow, President Bush landed on the USS Abraham Lincoln and dramatically strode onto the deck in a flight suit, a crash helmet tucked under one arm. Even without the giant banner that hung from the ship's tower, the president's message about the progress of the war in Iraq was u... link to source

  • A Social Theory of Violence Looks Beyond the Shooter
    Like most people in Virginia, Donald Black was horrified by Seung Hui Cho's shooting rampage last week that left 33 people dead, including the shooter. link to source

  • Among Taxpayers, Inequality May Equal Cheating
    Economists have long known there are two reasons that people cheat on their taxes. One is that they are poor and need the extra cash so badly they are willing to risk getting caught. The other is that they are rich and have lots of "non-matchable" income -- mostly investment income not directly... link to source

  • Waging War Through the Rearview Mirror
    President Bush said last week that his thinking on the U.S. situation in Iraq was informed by an analogy: the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen. The lack of a sufficient American response to that and other al-Qaeda attacks, Bush said, led to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. link to source

  • The Decoy Effect, or How to Win an Election
    If Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama ever took a break from fundraising to bone up on psychology, they might realize the need to talk up . . . John Edwards. link to source

  • Bettors and Pundits: Never Wrong, Just Unlucky
    The NCAA men's college basketball championship game was on the line. People in office pools around the country were holding their breath. Louisville was down by four points with a few minutes left on the clock. A UCLA player stole a pass and raced down the court where, after being bumped by a... link to source

  • What the Bard and Lear Can Tell a Leader About Yes Men
    In Shakespeare's "King Lear," a powerful man comes to a tragic end because he surrounds himself with flatterers and banishes the friends who will not varnish the truth to please him. link to source

  • Disagree About Iraq? You're Not Just Wrong -- You're Evil.
    The conviction of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby last week gave Americans a chance to pick at the scab of what has become a favored obsession -- the debate over the motives of the Bush administration in the run-up to the war in Iraq. link to source

  • Don't Send a Lion to Catch a Mouse
    Two centuries ago, Napoleon Bonaparte sent his armies into Spain to overthrow a monarch who had once been a French ally. Napoleon, who believed he was touched by the hand of destiny, predicted his troops would be welcomed as liberators by ordinary Spaniards. He was wrong. The resulting Peninsular War from 1808 to 1814 seriously undermined French prestige, handed Napoleon a stinging defeat and produced a raft of unanticipated consequences that included the outbreak of deadly civil wars.... link to source

  • Best Supporting? Maybe Not.
    Let's say someone stuck a microphone in your face and gave you 45 seconds to say something meaningful to a billion people. Let's say, moreover, that this is the only chance you will ever have to directly address the entire world. link to source

  • Almost Everyone Lies, Often Seeing It as a Kindness
    The perjury trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby goes to the jury this week. The case speaks to several issues -- how the Bush administration deals with critics of the war in Iraq, and the games that Washington's reporters and politicians play with each other. As far as the jury is concerned, however,... link to source

  • Plagued With Relationship Troubles? Blame Your Parents.
    So, Valentine's Day is two days away, but you know he isn't going to bring you any flowers. And instead of a cuddle and a kiss, you know she is going to dig up that old canard about your mother. link to source

  • A Game of Magical Thinking Leaves Reality on the Sidelines
    The 58 fans sitting before the big-screen television were watching the Super Bowl. Psychologist Emily Pronin was watching the fans. link to source

  • Twisting Arms Isn't as Easy as Dropping Bombs
    Whenever the United States goes to war, pro-war and antiwar advocates immediately reach for different history books. Hawks always equate the situation to a Hitler-Chamberlain standoff to show why hesitation can be fatal. Doves invariably pull the Vietnam War off the shelf to argue that plunging... link to source

  • How Deep a Distaste for Politicians Who Waffle?
    When George W. Bush takes the podium tomorrow night to deliver his sixth State of the Union address, what are the chances he will say this? "The war in Iraq has been one gigantic mistake. I am sorry I got us into this mess. I am going to bring the troops home right away." link to source

  • In Boardrooms and in Courtrooms, Diversity Makes a Difference
    When the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. called on America to open the doors of opportunity to people of color, the civil rights leader was making a moral argument. link to source

  • Wars Ultimately Measure Tolerance of Pain
    Here's a question with three different answers. The first answer is derived from arithmetic. The second comes from common sense. The third is based on psychology. link to source

  • Iraq War Naysayers May Have Hindsight Bias
    Antiwar liberals last week got to savor the four most satisfying words in the English language: "I told you so." link to source

  • Apologies Accepted? It Depends on the Offense
    When freedom fighters in India inspired by Mahatma Gandhi turned violent in a clash with police in 1922, the nonviolent leader took personal responsibility, called off nationwide protests and starved himself for five days in a penitential fast. Gandhi was nearly alone in thinking an apology of such... link to source

  • In Politics, Aim for the Heart, Not the Head
    In 1935, researchers from Columbia University fanned out around the city of Allentown, Pa., and handed out leaflets ahead of local and state elections. What residents did not know was that they were part of an experiment in political persuasion -- an experiment whose results came to mind last week... link to source

  • In Crises, People Tend to Live, or Die, Together
    How the disaster starts does not matter: It could be a plane crashing into the World Trade Center, it could be the sea receding rapidly ahead of an advancing tsunami, it could be smoke billowing through a nightclub. link to source

  • In Today's Rat Race, the Most Overworked Win
    For years, economists have taught their students a simple maxim: As employers hunt for workers, they want to get the best talent at the lowest price. link to source

  • What One Fewer Planet Means to Our Worldview
    Is Pluto a planet? The world's astronomers met in Prague last week to vote on this question, and in a sort of cosmic game of "Survivor," they voted Pluto off the solar system. link to source

  • Cheating Is an Awful Thing for Other People to Do
    Both athletes were stars. Both faltered, then staged dramatic comebacks -- displaying the tenacity that separates heroes from also-rans. Both now face drug charges that could end their careers. link to source

  • Too Hot or Too Cold at Work? Best Bet Is to Chill Out
    Office managers are under siege. They know that if they set the temperature to 74, they hear from the woman in human resources who says it is too cold. If they turn it up to 76, they hear from the man in marketing who wants to know why it is sweltering hot. link to source

  • When Staying Cool Seems Better Than Being Bad
    So the bad news is that it is hot and sticky and muggy. Your skin makes tearing sounds when you get up from a plastic chair. On the Metro, you start to tell people apart by how they smell. link to source

  • How the Brain Helps Partisans Admit No Gray
    President Bush came to Washington promising to be a uniter, but public opinion polls show that apart from a burst of camaraderie after Sept. 11, 2001, America is more bitterly divided and partisan than ever. link to source

  • Two Views of the Same News Find Opposite Biases
    You could be forgiven for thinking the television images in the experiment were from 2006. They were really from 1982: Israeli forces were clashing with Arab militants in Lebanon. The world was watching, charges were flying, and the air was thick with grievance, hurt and outrage. link to source

  • A World of Insults, a World of Reactions
    You don't have to be a sports fan to know that something extraordinary happened in the World Cup soccer final last week. Ten minutes from the climactic end -- with his country's hopes, the championship and his place in the history books at stake -- French captain Zinedine Zidane violently... link to source

  • Forgive and Forget: Maybe Easier Said Than Done
    Jan Molinell lost $300,000 when Enron collapsed. A former Enron Corp. employee in Florida, Molinell closely followed the trials of Kenneth L. Lay and other Enron executives -- half-fearing that Lay's political ties to the White House would allow him to escape scot-free, and half-wondering whether an... link to source

  • Science Confirms: You Really Can't Buy Happiness
    When Warren Buffett announced last week that he will be giving away more than $30 billion to improve health, nutrition and education, people all over America reflected on his remarkable generosity, pondered all the noble things the gift would achieve and asked themselves what they would do if... link to source

  • Using Science to Soothe the Agony of Defeat
    Melissa Hunfalvay feels Claudio Reyna's pain. Not the pain caused by the sprain in Reyna's knee -- an injury the captain of the defeated U.S. World Cup soccer team sustained last week while conceding a goal in an all-important match against Ghana. link to source

  • Born With the Desire to Know the Unknown
    America is awash in secrets and conspiracies. Moviegoers are agog over the 2,000-year-old conspiracy theory in "The Da Vinci Code," which suggests that Jesus may not have died celibate. In a conspiracy exactly one order of magnitude smaller, Brad Meltzer's new novel, "The Book of Fate," tells about... link to source

  • Searching for a Sense of Meaning in Gifts
    What did you get your mother for Mother's Day? Was it beautifully thoughtful, or a rush job you fixed with a few clicks of the mouse and a credit card? link to source

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