Does Religion Control Teen Sex in America?

Social scientists often talk about the effects of religion on sexual behavior as though the dogmas of a church were automatically practiced. Evangelicals are the largest religious grouping in America and they are extremely anti-sexual. What about their conduct?

Why Women Are More Sexual in Some Societies

In some societies, female sexuality is suppressed whether by wrapping up the body and face, or restricting freedom of movement. In such restrictive societies, sexual behavior is almost impossible outside marriage. Do women have essentially the same sexual impulses there as in more liberated places?

The Lure of the Incomplete Task

A waiter remembers every detail of an order but promptly forgets them when the plates hit the table. Evidently, the human brain strives to complete ongoing activities and focuses on details of the incomplete task. The lure of the incomplete task transcends memory to motivate a lifetime of creative achievement.

Is the Family Doomed?

If you had a trying time with your relatives this holiday season, the news is good. Such gatherings will soon be a faint memory according to sociologist Joel Cotkin in a new report “The Rise of Post-familism.”

Are Religious People Healthier?

The load of various infectious diseases in a country predicts how religious it is both in terms of belief in God and stated importance of religion

When the world won't end

End-of-the-world predictions are very much in the air between the dreaded 12/12/12 date and the Mayan calendar running out. Cults proclaiming that the end is nigh are dangerous to their members. That is why the cults themselves fail along with their prophecies.

Why Women Worry More

There are few gender differences more reliable than women’s penchant for worrying.

Trauma Resets Personality

Psychologists know that some aspects of personality are virtually unchangeable. These traits are described as “deep” meaning that they are (a) biologically based and (b) difficult to change. You cannot turn a sociopath into a saint or crush the ego of a narcissist.

Does Wealth Really Kill Religion?

The most religious countries of the world are desperately poor suggesting that religion serves as a balm for the miseries of life. In wealthy developed countries, the quality of life is better and religion declines. Yet there are exceptions.

Quitting Cold Turkey: Better Than Smoking Cessation Programs

The vast majority of smokers who quit succeed by themselves. This raises an interesting dilemma for planned treatments both drug-based and behavioral. Are supposed help givers doing the opposite?

Is Not Marrying Harmful to Children?

The impact of marriage on social problems of children is one of the most important, and most researched questions in child development and family studies. Yet, clear answers are hard to find. Children of single parents fare much worse in terms of social problems in the U.S. Yet the same is not true in many European countries.

Why Cultural Determinism Is Not Science

The leading theory in the social sciences is cultural determinism. Yet, it lacks plausibility as a scientific theory. It is often untestable. When tested, it frequently fails. Such failures are widely ignored because social scientists cannot conceive of a plausible alternative. Evolutionary social science may fit that bill.

Are Women More Sexually Faithful Than Men?

We are accustomed to hearing that men are eagerly trying to propagate their genes into future generations via casual sex. If that is true, then one might expect that husbands would be much more likely to have affairs than wives. Are women truly more faithful than men?

Are Religious People Happier?

In religious countries, including the U.S., religious people describe themselves as happier. In relatively godless countries, such as the Netherlands, or Denmark, religious people are not happier. So does religion help people cope with their problems, or not?

Can We Expect Powerful Men Not to Have Affairs?

The Petraeus scandal is a recent example of a well-worn theme from evolutionary psychology. Socially successful men parlay their prestige into conquests in the bedroom. Moralists claim to be appalled. Should they be? Or are we merely observing one of the great truths of human sexual psychology playing out?

Are There Universals in Human Behavior?

Karl Popper defined scientific paradigms as shared belief systems. As science progresses, scientists realize that these beliefs are mostly false and move to a new paradigm. In physics Einstein replaced Newton and was superseded by Max Planck Evolutionary psychology follows cultural determinism but its faith in universals makes it vulnerable.

Does Marriage Have a Future?

The most developed countries point to the future—where they are going, less developed countries inevitably follow. That is true of urbanization, technology, religion, infrastructure, health, life expectancy, and family size to name a few. It is also true of marriage.

The Three Reasons for Polygamy

Both candidates for the presidency owe their very existence to polygamy. President Obama’s father belonged to the polygamous Luo tribe. Mitt Romney’s paternal great grandfathers moved to Mexico to continue the Mormon practice of polygamy then outlawed in the U.S. So the time is ripe to ask what advantages polygamy has over monogamy.

Are You a Sucker?

Social psychologist Robert Cialdini is an expert on manipulative communications (1). Yet, he was the first to admit that he was more vulnerable than most. He was the man accepting the “free” rose from a cult member when accosted in the street.

Why Liberal Hearts Bleed and Conservatives Don't

Political liberals are “bleeding hearts” because they empathize so strongly with the sufferings of others. As Bill Clinton so succinctly phrased it, “I feel your pain.” When Republicans wanted to compete in the empathy department, they had to invent a new terminology to identify this strange bird. They called it a “compassionate conservative.”

Does Religion Protect Against Teen Childbearing?

Just because religious people endorse restrictive views on sexual behavior does not mean that they are going to live up to them.

Sex and the White Elephant Effect

Blocking undesirable thoughts can be tricky. Say that you tell someone not to think about a white elephant. Chances are that the image of a white pachyderm hovers in their consciousness.

Sex and Societies

Why could women in a Mozart opera from the 1790s (The Magic Flute) expect stable marriage versus the high divorce rates of American females in the 1970s? The reason is a relative scarcity of men, according to a new Discover article (1) by fellow blogger Robert Epstein. Such scientifically meaningful patterns strengthen sociology as a science.

Voodoo Death I

Most of us are preoccupied with prolonging our lives by remaining fit and healthy. We are led to believe that a healthy body guarantees long life. Yet, there is evidence that some people die despite being young and in good health. When they lose the well to live, they perish as surely as though they had been asphyxiated.

A Life Without Fear?

Organized religion offers a life without fear. The key question is not whether it delivers on that promise, but how.

Do Religious People Have a Hotter Sex Life?

On the surface, major religions discourage primal impulses. They speak out against violence—and unbridled sexuality. Despite prohibiting homicides, religious societies can be quite violent and warlike. Are they any better at controlling sexual impulses?

Have Americans Turned Against Religion?

Older Americans are not all that religious by some criteria. Younger Americans are considerably less religious. They point to a future where religious people will be a minority.

The God Spot Revisited

Media coverage hyped the importance of findings suggesting that spiritual experiences have a brain basis. Even so, an evolved capacity for self-transcendence fits in well with what we know about the evolutionary role and function of religion.

Why Cults Are Mindless

Mindless obedience helps religious cults to stay together.