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Archive for 'psychology'

new book – ‘The Punisher’s Brain: The Evolution of Judge and Jury’ by Morris B. Hoffman

April 16, 2014

The Punisher's Brain
 

The Punisher’s Brain: The Evolution of Judge and Jury by Morris B. Hoffman (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

(amazon.co.uk)

 

Book description from the publisher:

Why do we punish, and why do we forgive? Are these learned behaviors, or is there something deeper going on? This book argues that there is indeed something deeper going on, and that our essential response to the killers, rapists, and other wrongdoers among us has been programmed into our brains by evolution. Using evidence and arguments from neuroscience and evolutionary psychology, Morris B. Hoffman traces the development of our innate drives to punish – and to forgive – throughout human history. He describes how, over time, these innate drives became codified into our present legal systems and how the responsibility and authority to punish and forgive was delegated to one person – the judge – or a subset of the group – the jury. Hoffman shows how these urges inform our most deeply held legal principles and how they might animate some legal reforms.

See also: Author’s webpage

Comments (0) - human evolution,psychology

new book – ‘Snakes, Sunrises, and Shakespeare: How Evolution Shapes Our Loves and Fears’ by Gordon H. Orians

April 14, 2014

Snakes, Sunrises and Shakespeare

Snakes, Sunrises, and Shakespeare: How Evolution Shapes Our Loves and Fears by Gordon H. Orians (University of Chicago Press, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

Our breath catches and we jump in fear at the sight of a snake. We pause and marvel at the sublime beauty of a sunrise. These reactions are no accident; in fact, many of our human responses to nature are steeped in our deep evolutionary past—we fear snakes because of the danger of venom or constriction, and we welcome the assurances of the sunrise as the predatory dangers of the dark night disappear. Many of our aesthetic preferences—from the kinds of gardens we build to the foods we enjoy and the entertainment we seek—are the lingering result of natural selection.

In this ambitious and unusual work, evolutionary biologist Gordon H. Orians explores the role of evolution in human responses to the environment, beginning with why we have emotions and ending with evolutionary approaches to aesthetics. Orians reveals how our emotional lives today are shaped by decisions our ancestors made centuries ago on African savannas as they selected places to live, sought food and safety, and socialized in small hunter-gatherer groups.  During this time our likes and dislikes became wired in our brains, as the appropriate responses to the environment meant the difference between survival or death. His rich analysis explains why we mimic the tropical savannas of our ancestors in our parks and gardens, why we are simultaneously attracted to danger and approach it cautiously, and how paying close attention to nature’s sounds has resulted in us being an unusually musical species.  We also learn why we have developed discriminating palates for wine, and why we have strong reactions to some odors, and why we enjoy classifying almost everything.

By applying biological perspectives ranging from Darwin to current neuroscience to analyses of our aesthetic preferences for landscapes, sounds, smells, plants, and animals, Snakes, Sunrises, and Shakespeare transforms how we view our experience of the natural world and how we relate to each other.

Google Books preview:

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new book – ‘Future-Minded: The Psychology of Agency and Control’ by Magda Osman

March 27, 2014

Future-Minded

Future-Minded: The Psychology of Agency and Control by Magda Osman (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)

(amazon.co.uk)

Book description from the publisher:

What drives us to make decisions?

Future-Minded explores the psychological processes of agency and control. If you’ve ever wondered why we think of coincidences as matters of fate rather than the result of the laws of probability, this book provides the answer. From memory and reasoning to our experiences of causality and consciousness, it unpicks the mechanisms we use on a daily basis to help us predict, plan for and attempt to control the future.

Future-Minded
* Features a wealth of real world examples to help you engage with this fast-developing area
* Provides clear analysis of psychological experiments and their findings to explain the evidence behind the theory

Thought-provoking and highly topical, Future-Minded is fascinating reading for psychology students studying cognition or consciousness, and for anyone interested in understanding how we try to determine the future.

See also: Author’s website, Sample chapter (pdf) from publisher

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new book – ‘A Metaphysics of Psychopathology’ by Peter Zachar

March 25, 2014

Metaphysics of Psychopathology

A Metaphysics of Psychopathology by Peter Zachar (MIT Press, 2014)

(kindle ed.), (amazon.co.uk), (UK kindle ed.)

Book description from the publisher:

In psychiatry, few question the legitimacy of asking whether a given psychiatric disorder is real; similarly, in psychology, scholars debate the reality of such theoretical entities as general intelligence, superegos, and personality traits. And yet in both disciplines, little thought is given to what is meant by the rather abstract philosophical concept of “real.” Indeed, certain psychiatric disorders have passed from real to imaginary (as in the case of multiple personality disorder) and from imaginary to real (as in the case of post-traumatic stress disorder). In this book, Peter Zachar considers such terms as “real” and “reality” — invoked in psychiatry but often obscure and remote from their instances — as abstract philosophical concepts. He then examines the implications of his approach for psychiatric classification and psychopathology. Proposing what he calls a scientifically inspired pragmatism, Zachar considers such topics as the essentialist bias, diagnostic literalism, and the concepts of natural kind and social construct. Turning explicitly to psychiatric topics, he proposes a new model for the domain of psychiatric disorders, the imperfect community model, which avoids both relativism and essentialism. He uses this model to understand such recent controversies as the attempt to eliminate narcissistic personality disorder from the DSM-5. Returning to such concepts as real, true, and objective, Zachar argues that not only should we use these metaphysical concepts to think philosophically about other concepts, we should think philosophically about them.

Google Books preview:

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$2.99 kindle ebook deal – ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’ by Susan Cain

March 19, 2014

Comments (0) - psychology