May 21, 2019

The Hidden Force Shaping All Your Decisions

“All groups have social norms, or unwritten standards that guide behavior. As children, for example, we learn to not grab things out of other people’s hands; to walk on the right side of the sidewalk (or the left, depending on where you live); to put on clothes each day. These social norms are the glue that keep us together, they give us our identity and help humans to cooperate at such a remarkable degree.

In our study across 33 societies published in Science, we found that cultures vary in the strength of their social norms, with profound consequences for our worldviews, our environments, and our brains. Some cultures are tight, with little tolerance for deviance, while loose cultures have weak norms and are highly permissive.

But this distinctions isn’t just relevant for nations. The U.S. 50 states can be classified in terms of their levels of tightness, as can organizations. Our recent research also shows that the working class is tighter than the upper class. Even our own households vary in terms of how strict or permissive we are. It’s a remarkable to see how similar this pattern is across different scales.”

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JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"The biggest topic in British political circles on Monday wasn’t the country’s impending departure from the European Union. It was milkshakes..."

"I often disagree with Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., but I've been disturbed by the idea that he should be run out of the Republican Party just because he believes President Trump committed impeachable offenses."

"The Icelandic band Hatari, whose members are quite vocal in their animosity towards Israel, held up Palestinian flags... Madonna, likewise, had two of her performers wear Israeli and Palestinian flags on their costumes."

"To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" premiering at the Cannes Film Festival, I turn to movie critic Roger Ebert's old review of "Raiders of the Lost Ark." (Trust me on this one.)"

"The money is already here—and has been for years. In the midst of a housing crisis, an injection of cash into the superheated real-estate market seems likely to cause an uptick in evictions and displacement."

"Parents concerned about YouTube debate whether to let their children have their own channels; some forbid it, others send them to summer camp..."

"‘I Had Completely Lost the Knack for Staying Alive..." Warmer weather brings daffodils, rhubarb at the farmer’s market — and, for some, despair."

"With his new book, Howard Stern proves that his rightful place is among the prophets and moral visionaries, not the ‘shock jocks’"

"I’m terrified of parenting in the anti-vaxxer age: Anti-vaccine propaganda isn’t just harmful to children. It threatens to erode our entire sense of community."

"...doctors are starting to think more about specific nutrients that feed tumor cells. That is, how what we eat affects how cancers grow..."

"...it represents an impressive achievement: a victory of humankind against the chaos that pervades the universe."

"If trends continue, in 20 years the majority of the world’s Jews will be living in Israel. The United States will see a continuing decline in overall numbers, with a growing observant Jewish population..."