Escalating violence is natural - Fascinating NY Times piece by Daniel Gilbert, a professor of psychology at Harvard, and author of Stumbling on Happiness. In this article, Gilbert explains how our faulty human perception in a tit-for-tat exchange can lead to escalating violence. Apropos of the Middle Earth...uh, Middle East conflicts between Israel and Hezbollah, the civil war in Iraq, and so many other conflicts...
The problem with the principle of even-numberedness is that .
Research shows that while as the consequences of what came , they think of as the causes of what came .
Volunteers remembered the and the .
What seems like a grossly self-serving pattern of remembering is actually the product of two innocent facts. First, because our senses point outward, we can observe other people’s actions but not our own. Second, because mental life is a private affair, we can observe our own thoughts but not the thoughts of others. Together, these facts suggest that will always be more salient to us than the punches themselves — but that the opposite will be true of and other people’s punches.
But research suggests that these claims reflect genuinely different perceptions of the same bloody conversation.
Legitimate retribution is meant to restore balance, and thus an eye for an eye is fair, but an eye for an eyelash is not.
When the European Union condemned Israel for bombing Lebanon in retaliation for the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers, it did not question Israel’s right to respond, but rather, its “disproportionate use of force.” It is O.K. to hit back, just not too hard.
The researcher began the game by exerting a fixed amount of pressure on the first volunteer’s finger. The first volunteer was then asked to exert precisely the same amount of pressure on the second volunteer’s finger.
Although volunteers tried , they than they had just experienced.
Each time a volunteer was touched, , which led the other volunteer to touch back even harder. What began as a game of soft touches quickly became a game of moderate pokes and then hard prods, even though both volunteers were doing their level best to respond in kind.
Neither realized , so we usually give more pain than we have received.
Research teaches us This leads to the escalation of mutual harm, and to the belief that our actions are justifiable responses to theirs.
None of this is to deny the roles . It is simply to say that basic principles of human psychology are important ingredients in this miserable stew. Until we learn to stop trusting everything our brains tell us about others — — .
|Stumbling on Happiness|