Learning Sciences of Change

Learning Change Project: 8 Blogs, 6860 Readings

Archive for the ‘Behavior’ Category

Intuitive Prosociality

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Prosocial behavior is a central feature of human life and a major focus of research across the natural and social sciences. Most theoretical models of prosociality share a common assumption: Humans are instinctively selfish, and prosocial behavior requires exerting reflective control over these basic instincts. However, findings from several scientific disciplines have recently contradicted this view. Rather than requiring control over instinctive selfishness, prosocial behavior appears to stem from processes that are intuitive, reflexive, and even automatic. These observations suggest that our understanding of prosociality should be revised to include the possibility that, in many cases, prosocial behavior—instead of requiring active control over our impulses—represents an impulse of its own.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

April 5, 2014 at 10:42 am

The Ecology of Collective Behavior

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Similar patterns of interaction, such as network motifs and feedback loops, are used in many natural collective processes, probably because they have evolved independently under similar pressures. Here I consider how three environmental constraints may shape the evolution of collective behavior: the patchiness of resources, the operating costs of maintaining the interaction network that produces collective behavior, and the threat of rupture of the network. The ants are a large and successful taxon that have evolved in very diverse environments. Examples from ants provide a starting point for examining more generally the fit between the particular pattern of interaction that regulates the activity, and the environment in which it functions. Ecological constraints—such as heterogeneity in time and space, operating costs, and the threat of rupture—may shape the processes used to regulate activity in many biological systems. Both theoretical and empirical work are needed to investigate this fit, and to move toward a general understanding of the evolution of collective behavior. An ecological perspective can bring together current work in the investigation of diverse complex systems. What an ant does generates and depends on, the way its colony deals with the world. This is true of many other biological systems; to understand the action of any part, we need to look at what is going on around it.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

March 16, 2014 at 1:45 pm

Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding

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Buried in Treasures outlines a scientifically-based and effective program for helping compulsive hoarders dig their way out of the clutter and chaos of their homes. Discover the reasons for your problems with acquiring, saving, and hoarding, and learn new ways of thinking about your possessions so you can accurately identify those things you really need and those you can do without. Learn to recognize the “bad guys” that maintain your hoarding behavior and meet the “good guys” who will motivate you and put you on the path to change. Features of this book include: Self-assessments to determine the severity of the  problem; Tips and tools for organizing your possessions and filing your paperwork; Strategies for changing unhelpful beliefs about your possessions ; Behavioral experiments to reduce your fear of anxiety and fear of discarding.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

October 7, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Posted in Behavior

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The Biology of Human Behavior: Robert Sapolsky’s Key Insights

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Today you can do something that wasn’t possible for any previous generation. You can take a class from a Stanford professor without paying a dime. For the past month, I have been watching Robert Sapolsky give twenty five lectures about the biology of human behavior. As much as I’d like to ask all of you to watch them, I know that few of you will. For that reason, I couldn’t resist the urge to pass on the key insights that I learned from his class.

I urge all of you to give the lectures a try. He is one of the most engaging professors I have ever seen. Providing his lectures with a healthy dose of humor, he has compressed some of the most interesting information in the field into a single course. I will attempt to compress it further.

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Written by Giorgio Bertini

November 22, 2011 at 11:14 pm