We are social creatures. From early on in life we seek to make sense of events, the world and ourselves, by interpreting the behavior of others. We interpret the motives and behaviors of others on multiple levels through observation, emotional responses, mentalizing, simulation, and cognitive analysis.
People can infer social intentions on the basis of minimal cues.
In 1944, a classic experiment by professors of psychology Fritz Heider and Marianne Simmel demonstrated that rudimentary stick images of nvolving chasing triangles and evading circles.
More recent work has shown that children above age 4 and adults in disparate cultures (Germans and Amazonian Indians) can categorize intentions—chasing, fighting, following, playing, and courting (for adults)— from no more than the motion patterns of computerized v-shaped arrowheads.
This implies a universal capacity of people to infer intentions from rudimentary data.
Research confirms that when we think others can see us, our level of performance changes—we tend to put more effort into our tasks. Well-learned tasks are executed more quickly and accurately, while unmastered tasks are done more slowly and less accurately.
People’s effort and creativity tend to decrease when they work in groups, especially when individual performance within a group cannot be evaluated or separated from the success of the entire group.
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The Roots of Hate
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How Hate Manifests
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How We Fool Ourselves
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