Cherry Trees & Honesty


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How do we get our children to have moral integrity and tell the truth, at least when it really matters?  Most of us have a hard time telling the truth ourselves, let alone teaching a child the intricacies of truth telling and the importance of  being honest.

Kang Lee, a professor of human development and applied psychology at the University of Toronto, has been studying this subject for years.  He notes, Talking to kids about the moral importance of honesty and the moral negativity of lying has no impact on kids’ tendency to tell the truth.

Lee and his colleagues understand that the developing mind of children along with their imagination leads them to tell very interesting and fantastical stories.  However, the researchers studied not only the kinds of behaviors that teach children how to lie but also if young children, who know how to lie, can tell when others are lying and how this affects their ability to learn about morality.

One of their decade long studies, published in the journal Psychological Science, tested whether children could effectively learn about honesty from childhood stories that had morals at the end such as Pinocchio or George Washington and the cherry tree.

They studied children ages 3 to 7 years old and asked them to identify familiar toy sounds such as a dog bark.  They then played a sound that was harder to identify and told the children they had to step out of the room for a moment. The child of course was told not to peek at the toy.

When the scientist returned she covered up the toy and had the child turn around.  She then read one of three childhood tales (George Washington and the Cherry tree, Pinocchio, or the Boy Who Cried Wolf. A control group heard “The Tortoise and the Hare”, which has no moral ending.

The children were then asked if they peeked at the toy while the researcher was gone. About 90% of 3-year-olds peeked. More than 60% of 7-year-olds did, too. Overall, 65% lied about peeking.

Surprisingly, however, those who heard the George Washington tale only lied about half the time, a significant improvement over the other groups. Those who heard “Pinocchio” and “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” were just as likely to lie as those in the control group.

The researchers speculate that the children were responding to the positive benefits of telling the truth rather than the negative consequences of getting caught lying.

Some words of wisdom from the researchers into embedding morality into your children.

1.  Model Honesty -  Admit when you made a mistake instead of scapegoating it. Instead of listing all the things you had to do before work, which “made” you late, say “I should have gotten up earlier.”

2. Reward honesty don’t punish it. Say a child/teenager gets a bad grade – address how they can go about improving their grade and what kind of help they might  need. But if a child/teenager lies about getting a bad grade then punish the lie not the grade (after all they could have been trying their hardest).

Kindness- Share the Act

A touching and heartwarming, emotion filled video below about giving away what’s free to everyone…Kindness.

Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you

                                                                                                         – Princess Diana


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Do Humans Have More Than Two Dozen Universal Emotions?

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Do humans have more than two dozen universal emotions?

recent article on LiveScience highlighted research that concluded “a vast part of the human emotional repertoire is universal, and that emotional expressions go far deeper than the six basic ones previously described by researchers.”

Humintell Director, Psychologist Dr. Matsumoto says there is “no question in his mind” that there are a large number of emotions that are universal. He states that a small number (7) of them are universally expressed on the face, some others by face and body, or just body. Maybe some of these universal emotions are expressed by face and voice, or just voice.

However, Dr. Matsumoto suggests one major problem when conducting studies like these: researchers need to elicit emotions spontaneously and study the bodily reactions, not ask people or actors to pose what they think they look like.

Dr. Matsumoto has reviewed several papers related to this topic and says while the aims of the studies are admirable, several of these studies suffer from major methodological flaws that probably artificially produced the findings. Some of these flaws are outlined below and are important to keep in mind.

1) There are no validity data provided to suggest that the one sentence stories the authors concocted reliably elicit the target emotions in each of the cultures studied. Any serious publication will require more than just affirmation that cultural informants agreed on what emotion was elicited. Data are necessary to establish the reliability of the stories if there are to be definitive conclusions to be drawn.

2) Enactments of emotion may or may not be the same as the vocal cues that are produced when people actually feel and express the target emotions. Such enactments may be mimes that can achieve high levels of judgment agreement, but are not ecologically valid.

3) The types of expressions that were “randomly selected” as distractors along with the target expression does not provide an adequately stringent test of the hypotheses. If, for example, none of the expressions are “close enough” to the intended emotion in the story (whatever that is), then the intended expression may be chosen by a process of elimination.

Why are we so easily Deceived ?

stockvault-read-a-book106337Many people rely on their intuition rather than their knowledge when trying to discern truth.  This may seem like the opposite of what should happen, but new research finds that there are ways we can be tricked into thinking that something feels familiar, trustworthy and true.

The Washington Post writes on why most people are so easily duped. It seems that instead of recruiting your general knowledge to answer a claim, you’ll turn to your intuition.

Cognitive psychologist, Eryn Newman, delved into the question of, How we come to believe that things are true when they are not?  In her research at UC Irvine , Newman and colleagues used photos to look at the powerful effect images have on our memories, beliefs and evaluations of others. Past research has shown that photographs can aid in a person’s comprehension and make it easier to learn new information.

However, cognitive psychology research shows that photos can also be misleading. Photographs are a moment from a real event, so we often view them as evidence that an event actually took place. Sometimes with just the notion that a photo is a representation of a real event, we are tricked into believing a claim even when it is not actually substantiated by the photograph.

In a study by Elizabeth Loftus and others at UC Irvine, people who saw a doctored photo of President Obama shaking hands with the former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad actually said they remembered the event happening — even though it was completely false. Photos can even trick us into remembering false events from our own childhood. People who saw a doctored childhood photo came to remember a false event (riding in a hot air balloon) with the same detail and emotion that you would expect from a real memory.

This feeling of familiarity could influence us in a variety of contexts. In the courtroom, an easy name might make a witness or expert seem more credible. In the workforce, an easy name might help an individual’s résumé float to the top of a stack. And in the news, a photo — even one that is only loosely related — might make a story seem more credible.

How can we avoid being taken in by a false sense of truthiness? Cognitive psychology research has shown that people are often unaware of their biases or how information influences their judgments. But simply being warned about the influence of names and photos might just make us a little more cautious — leading us to look for truth that comes from books, and not the gut.

 To Learn more information on these topics and how the pronunciation of our words also influences are beliefs, Read the Entire Article.

The Science of Emotions

Given their inherent subjective nature, emotions have long been a nearly impenetrable topic for scientific research. Affective neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp explains a modern approach to emotions, and how taking the emotions of other animals seriously might soon improve the lives of millions.

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