Robin Hanson of the fascinating Overcoming Bias blog directs us to a study of the psychology of trait enhancement. The authors (Riis, Simmons, and Goodwin) find that there is a strong inverse correlation between how fundamental a trait is perceived to one’s identity and an individual’s willingness to take drugs to enhance that trait. Their theory is that people want to maintain traits that are perceived as fundamental to personal identity but don’t mind playing around with less crucial traits. In the chart below, the first three columns are the relevant ones: Higher Identity Indices indicate traits that the respondents viewed as more fundamental to personal identity; % Willing to enhance (Study 1) are the percent of those surveyed (a separate group than those who were surveyed for the Identity Index columns) that claimed they were willing to enhance the relevant trait. One relevant finding that is not reflected in the chart is that most of those who did not choose to enhance a trait selected concerns about altering a fundamental part of their identity as the reason why they were resistant.
Archive for July 6th, 2009
What we read while waiting for our “higher calling”:
- One of us (guess which one!) lost his favorite football player of the last decade early Saturday when former Titans’ quarterback Steve McNair was killed. McNair, author of the first great 3rd-and-5 play in Super Bowl history (here’s the other), is memorialized well here on Fanhouse. But all you needed to know about Air McNair was what Rams’ DT DeMarco Farr said in the above linked video: If he ran on that last play, no one could have stopped him.
- Malcolm Gladwell, who blogs every six months or so, is starting a new trend of “author as performer”, according to the Financial Times, due to his incredibly popular book tours. Josh might have something to say about that, given its promotion of the solo lecture. Meanwhile, in this week’s New Yorker, Gladwell reviews a new book by Chris Anderson of Wired. The review is, of course, very good, except if you’re, well, Anderson.
- Tim wasn’t the only one heaping lavish praise on Mariano Rivera this week: Joe Posnanski did the same thing, with a lot more Ernest Hemingway references, for SI this week. As usual, his blog was very good this week as well.
- We at NPI all have an interest in comedy (see John S. and Josh’s Anchoring Symposium for how this interest has led us to intense if obscure economic debates) so we naturally found a study of where stand-up comedians fell on the “Big Five” personality traits to be particularly intriguing. Here is the actual paper.
- We never really need an excuse to post anything about Journey, especially an exploration of the enduring (and really, ever-increasing) popularity of “Don’t Stop Believing.”