Do Animals Have Emotions? A Debate

The legitimacy of the argument that non-human animals have emotions is debated by an advocate and a skeptic.

What is a Psychological Theory?

Psychology needs theories to provide practical interventions and answers to fascinating questions about the mind. Causal mechanisms serve these needs better than associations.

Why Is There Evil?

People’s brains are equipped for caring and empathy, so why do people often hurt each other? Evil is like disease, resulting from malfunctions in mechanisms.

What Causes What?

Deciding whether something causes a spike in disease or a pattern like global warming requires careful inferences.

Was It Meant to Be?

When love affairs and jobs go wrong, people are sometimes told that it just wasn’t meant to be. Does such meaning come from God, the universe, fate, destiny, karma, or anything?

How Do Psychotherapists Think?

Psychotherapists need complex reasoning to determine how to help the people they treat. Such assessment is not simply matching features, but requires building a causal account.

Empathy in Literature and Film

Empathy in literature and film works by three modes of empathy: verbal analogies, physiological mimicry, and non-verbal simulation of chains of emotional experiences.

Daily Routines of Creative People

Most people have daily routines and rituals. According to a recent book, mornings are important productive times for many famous writers and other creative people.

In Defense of Empathy

A new book argues that empathy is not only overrated but actually harmful to morality. But it is often helpful in guiding ethical judgment and motivating appropriate actions.

Experimental Philosophy: Strengths and Limitations

Experimental philosophy is an important movement in which philosophers systematically collect data about how people think. It has 2 main strengths and 3 surmountable limitations.

What’s Wrong With Conflicts of Interest?

Conflicts of interest easily arise in government, science, and medicine. Cognition-emotion interactions in the brain lead people to violate their professional responsibilities.

Consciousness – Do Not Block the Way of Inquiry

Scientific and philosophical progress on understanding conscious experience is blocked by questions like “what is it like to be conscious?"

The Emotional Coherence of Donald Trump

Voting decisions are based more on emotional coherence with values than on rational choice. Value maps of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton supporters display their appeal.

Spiritual but Not Religious

Spirituality is no better than religion at making sense of the world in ways consistent with evidence and argument If you don’t like religion, you shouldn’t be spiritual either.

Power and Emotion

Interpersonal relationships operate with power based on coercion, benefits, respect, or social norms. These kinds of power depend on different emotions.

Charisma and Vision

Charisma and vision are important characteristics of leaders such as Justin Trudeau and Steve Jobs. Both are intensely emotional.

Fear of Embarrassment, and Other Nested Emotions

People experience nested emotions such as hope for forgiveness, love of honor, longing for love, fear of fear itself, lust for glory, and dread of shame.

How to Put Yourself in Someone Else’s Shoes

You can empathize with people in three ways: recognizing their situations as analogous to your own, perceiving their pain or emotions using mirror neurons, or simulating their experiences using unconscious embodied rules.

Why are Some People Eager to Fight for the Islamic State?

Foreigners and locals decide to go to fight with the Islamic State because it provides a good fit with their fundamental values and beliefs – emotional coherence. A value map shows some of the emotional structure of the Islamic State ideology.

Emotional Capital

Emotional capital is the set of resources that enable people to use emotions effectively in their lives. It includes self-esteem, self-regulation, emotional energy, attachment, resilience, agreeableness, and optimism.

What Is Love?

The best way to state the nature of love is to identify standard examples, typical features, and explanatory roles. Love is an emotion consisting of patterns of neural firing that represent a lover, a loved one, intense feelings, and caring behavior, all tied to chemical changes in the brain.

Why Do People Like Sad Songs?

The emotional impact of music does not come from imparting particular emotions, but rather from being emotionally engaging in general. So it does not matter whether a song is happy or sad, only whether it has an emotional impact on the listeners.

Cinderella and the Wrongdoing Schema for Moral Thinking

The Cinderella story illustrates a common pattern in which a victim experiences harm because of bad actions performed by a bad agent with bad intentions. I call this pattern the wrongdoing schema, and outline how it explains important aspects of moral cognition.

Does the Heart Want What It Wants?

It is only partly true that the heart wants what the heart wants, because minds have some limited capacity for cognitive reappraisal that contributes to emotional change.

Is Your Cell Phone Conscious? On Information Integration

The theory that consciousness is just information integration suffers from vagueness, mathematical problems, naïve claims about self-evidence, and misattribution of consciousness to entities such as smartphones.So it is less plausible than alternate theories that explain consciousness as the result of brain mechanisms.

The Hard Problem of Life

Life and consciousness are problems allegedly so hard that no amount of scientific progress can ever solve them.

Are People Naturally Scientific?

Some social and developmental psychologists have claimed that people—even children—naturally think like scientists. I find this claim implausible because: people are naturally religious rather than scientific; everyday thinking frequently deviates from scientific reasoning; and science is a relatively recent cultural development.

Should People Fear Artificial Intelligence?

Once superintelligence comes about because computers acquire and surpass human-level intelligence, it may turn out to have interests and actions that run counter to those of humans, to our detriment and possibly even our demise. But despite advances in AI, computers are still very limited compared to humans.

Explaining Social Change

A new approach to explaining social change needs to combine recent theories about the brain processes responsible for cognition and emotion with understanding of social communication that is both verbal and non-verbal.

Consciousness Is a Brain Process

Debate continues on whether consciousness operates in brains, in non-material souls, or in anything capable of integrating information. Rapid progress is being made on the neural mechanisms responsible for consciousness.