New research

  • New research

    The psychology of philosophy

    I first got interested in personality psychology long ago as a double-degree student of psychology and philosophy. I was intrigued by the psychology of philosophical divisions and started thinking about how people’s views of the world reflect their personalities. It seemed to me that there was frequently a coherence between the personalities of philosophers and the philosophical positions they adopted. Historical examples There are many historical examples consistent with this position. An example that comes to mind is Arthur Schopenhauer—a 19th century thinker known as the philosopher of pessimism, who was also known to be cynical and disagreeable in his personal life. Another obvious example is Immanuel Kant—an 18th century…

  • New research

    New research on bullshit receptivity

    The notions of ”alternative facts” and fake news have rapidly become viral. Although research on receptivity to falsehoods is useful, there is also a problem here. These notions are often used for ideological rather than scientific purposes—the real facts of the ingroup tribe are pitted against the lies of the other tribes. We need more research that focuses not on what facts people subscribe to but on how they engage with evidence and arguments, and how to promote a more scientific (as opposed to ideological or tribalist) attitude among the public. One interesting new line of research focuses on the notion of receptivity to bullshit, which the philosopher Harry Frankfurt…

  • New research

    The evolutionary foundations of worldviews

    When taking a graduate course on evolutionary psychology a few years ago, I thought a bit about the potential evolutionary bases of worldviews. I was specifically interested in the opposition between humanistic and normativistic perspectives posited by Silvan Tomkins Polarity Theory (more information here) that is encapsulated in the following quotation: “Is man the measure, an end in himself, an active, creative, thinking, desiring, loving force in nature? Or must man realize himself, attain his full stature only through struggle toward, participation in, conformity to a norm, a measure, an ideal essence basically prior to and independent of man?” (Tomkins, 1963). Evolutionary bases of of normativism and humanism Drawing on…