Archive for July 6th, 2009

Thoughts on Trait Enhancement

prozac_jpgRobin 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.

Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while waiting for our “higher calling”: