Don’t walk on escalators

People who walk on escalators might say that they do it because they’re “in a hurry,” but we indolent standers know that they only do it to make us feel bad. In an unexpected—and counterintuitive—twist of fate, though, it turns out that the walkers are actually the true societal drain. Research shows that escalators are utilized more efficiently when everyone just packs on and stands, instead of allowing people to choose to walk.

Usually people naturally create two paths on escalators. One (to the right in the United States) is for standing, and the other is for walking. The Guardian reports, though, that during a three-week trial at the Holborn Tube Station (a transfer station used by 56 million people per year) in November, staffers from the municipal group Transport for London attempted to disrupt this norm. Employees used megaphones to ask people not to walk on the escalators. They sent unmoving staffers up and down the escalators to block walking traffic. They even asked couples to stand next to each other and hold hands to discourage the usual walking lane.
Research from the University of Greenwich in 2011 indicated that on average about 75 percent of people will stand on escalators while the other 25 percent walk. Right away you can see how reserving half of an escalator’s real estate for only one-quarter of the people who use it might not make sense. And people tend to create more following distance on the walking side of the escalator versus the standing side. Transport for London’s simulations preliminarily showed that using a whole Holborn Station escalator for standing would allow 31.25 more people per minute to board the escalator (112.5 people on the escalator per minute versus 81.25 people per minute with a walking lane).

In fact the three-week experiment in 2015 had even better results than the Transport for London researchers predicted based on the Greenwich research. For example, one escalator that normally transported 12,745 people between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m. on a typical week was able to move 16,220 because of standing rules. But the Guardian reports that commuters pushed back, calling the trial “stupid” or yelling, “This isn’t Russia!”

The approach asks people to do something they are often bad at: delaying instant gratification in the interest of a greater good. A lot of the benefit of universal standing has to do with reducing the bottleneck at the entrance to escalators. The more people can get on per minute, the less time they have to wait to get on in the first place. For walkers this may not intuitively feel like a worthwhile trade-off, though. And creating specific sides for walking/standing is a very ingrained behavior.

Michael Kinsey, a fire engineer who co-authored the 2011 study and has been working on escalator safety at the British consulting firm Arup, told Slate that attempting to change rider behavior for short escalators may not be worth it. “However, for longer escalators, more people typically prefer to ride due to increase in energy expenditure/physical ability of walking,” he said, “Which means less people are using the walker lane. … So for longer escalators, if the main aim is to increase escalator capacity, then asking people to ride on both sides will achieve this.”

Some cities like Tokyo and Hong Kong have considered initiatives for years to reduce escalator walking. But these discussions have mainly been motivated by safety concerns. Peter Kauffmann, a transportation engineer at Gorove/Slade Associates, said he’s not surprised that Transport for London had a lot of resistance to its three-week trial. “Implementing any kind of pedestrian rule is difficult, and here you have the situation where the rule has to be variable, since when things are uncongested riders are going to want to walk to save time (and you’ll want to accommodate them for customer satisfaction).”

He added, though, that the Transport for London data is gratifying for researchers like him who had previously only been able to study escalator ridership optimization with computer simulations (as in a paper Kauffmann co-authored in 2014 titled “Modeling the Practical Capacity of Escalators”). “It’s exciting to see somebody actually testing this,” he said.
It’s hard to change people’s habits, but if it will really get them to work more quickly, they might warm up to the idea of standing patiently on an escalator. Then again, people can get pretty emotional about escalators. “People in a hurry generally do not want to stand still as there is feeling that constantly moving means they are making progress,” Kinsey said.
“We all want to get on the train, in order to reach our destinations; and yet we can’t get to the train,” Hamilton Nolan wrote on Gawker in 2013. “Why can’t we get there? It’s so close. Why not just make our way to the platform in a hasty but orderly fashion and get on the train? Because this motherfucker up here wants to stand still on the escalator.” The stakes are high.

Source

What you should NOT do in the USA…

A person who is not an American needs to be careful about making sweeping critical comments — “You Americans…” Think how you would react if someone, even a friend, criticized a member of your family. Americans often rally together when they feel attacked. Let an American offer the criticism.

Do not expect that you know Americans from movie or television stereotypes. Most Americans do not hunt, own guns, attend fundamentalist churches, or go to NASCAR races, for example. There are many variations in accent, political inclination, and opinions.  Being open to surprises rather than “knowing” everything already is usually a good approach when traveling.

Do not assume that ethnic minorities do not see themselves as “Americans” — you will risk appearing patronizing and insulting.

Many words that might be acceptable in other languages are considered improper — a sign of either ignorance or a lack of cultivation — in general company.  Do not use obscenities to service personnel, police officers, teachers, or strangers.

Most Americans will respond to a person who is lost and needs directions. Tourists are often pleasantly surprised by the conversations that they have with Americans.

Do not ask personal questions of others — money is not (however it may have been in the past) an easy topic to discuss; never ask someone how much he or she makes or if they are “rich.” Sex, health, weight, and other personal topics should not be brought up except among close friends — and even then there are limitations. Avoid religion and politics, except as an abstract or academic discussion.

Never use a racial or religious epithet or make jokes about a group of which you are not a member. Do not point out people who look “different” or stare at them.

There is an acceptable physical distance to keep. If you are forced (e.g., in a crowded elevator) to be closer, do not make eye contact. Keep your hands to yourself.

Smoking is not allowed indoors in many places, or outdoors (NYC parks, for example). It is not considered sophisticated or “liberated,” anymore.

Do not ask too many questions about a person’s family.

Do not assume, as one foreign visitor once told me, that all Americans had ancestors who were criminals that were shipped here (!).

Do not harp about how the Chinese are taking over America and will rule the world — just like the former Soviet Union, or Japan, or a United Europe was supposed to do, not that long ago. Furthermore, most Americans do not want to rule the world — just talk to some real people and you can find that out. American nationalism can sound childish, like sporting chants, but it is not as serious as Nuremberg rallies or North Korean propaganda.

Source

What can you learn about a person by just looking at their face?

I was an FBI agent for 30 years and observed criminals’ behavior when they lied.
I’ve also researched extensively about body language, facial expressions, and verbal indicators of lying. I’ve found that knowing signals that indicate someone is probably lying to you can be helpful to law enforcement officers, teachers, parents, anyone who is wondering about whether to establish or continue a romantic relationship, or anyone who deals with salesmen, repairmen, or contractors, that is, anyone who has contacts or dealings with other people.

I decided to share my knowledge with others, in order to promote more honesty (or less successful lying) in the world. So, I wrote a book titled, How to Spot Lies Like the FBI. In it, I discuss facial expressions, body language, and verbal indicators which likely signal someone is lying to you.

In regard to the facial indicators, you can see that someone is stressed, nervous or lying from observing many signals or “tells.” To eliminate false positives, one should first interact with the person with small talk and by asking general questions. That way you can determine their base or normal behavior. It’s noted that some people show signals that might be connected with lying if they happen to be nervous, jittery or anxious in their normal behavior. And people’s reactions can be affected by allergies, drinking, using certain medications or taking drugs. Also, a small percentage of the population includes pathological liars who will likely feel no stress from lying and probably won’t exhibit the signals of it. And some people will have particular psychological disorders that will change their behavior from the norm. So, watch for the baseline behavior, then look for about three lying indicators that they don’t display regularly, before you conclude they’re lying. With a little practice in making observations, you’ll be quite certain when someone has shown a true lying signal.

Most people react in predictable and observable ways when they lie because they’ll get chemical changes in their bodies, they’ll have physiological responses, and/or they’ll have mental reactions. For instance, a chemical reaction causes peoples’ faces to itch when they lie. If they touch or scratch their nose or cheek or rub their finger under their nose, those are indicators of fibbing. The mouth often goes dry, and you can see their reaction to that when they do a sucking action, usually with pursed lips. They may also lick their lips to alleviate the discomfort. Excess mucus is often produced while lying, so people will either cough several times or clear their throat a few times.

They may chew on or bite their lip. Their eyes may dart from left to right, back and forth, which is an ancient biological reaction when a person faces a dangerous animal or human adversary, and they’re trying to find an escape route. And if they blink several times in a row, faster than the normal blink rate of once every ten or twelve seconds, they’re most likely lying. Also, when you ask someone a question that affects them emotionally, they may show a “microexpression” which shows their true reaction. This only lasts for about 1/25th of a second before they show an expression that they want to display to you, so you have to watch sharply for these instances.

People will often touch or partially cover their mouth with their hand before or after they lie, or they’ll sometimes place a finger beside their mouth during your conversation. Lying people will often perspire more than the conditions call for. You may notice moisture on their foreheads or cheeks, and they’ll sometimes rub the back of their neck because of the discomfort of excess sweat there.

People will sometimes rub a knuckle into their eye socket after lying to you. Their heart rate will increase, their blood pressure will accelerate, and their breathing will quicken. You may notice the pumping of blood in their carotid arteries get faster, they may get short of breath, and their faces and/or cheeks and ears may redden. Also, some people, more likely women, will blush after telling a whopper.

There are other facial indicators and a good many body movements and ways people talk to you that are helpful to know about along these lines. You should probably read a book that discusses facial expressions, body language, and verbal indicators. And I wish you good luck in your future.

Source

When Is It Inappropriate To Answer Your Cellphone?

These days, it’s almost impossible to escape the near-constant presence of cellphones in our daily lives. 92 percent of Americans now own one, according to findings published by Pew Research. It comes as little surprise that people tend to answer their phones everywhere imaginable – the library, the park, the cinema and so on – locations many people consider inappropriate.

The American public certainly have varying views about when it’s ok or not ok to answer their cellphones. Phoning while walking down the street, traveling on public tranportation or waiting in line are all viewed as generally ok by the vast majority of people. However, at a restaurant, six out of every ten respondents said it is generally not ok to answer that buzzing or ringing cellphone.

Surprisingly, some people (just 5 and 4 percent respectively) even think it is generally ok to take a call at a movie theatre or during a church service.

Source

9 Destructive Behaviors that Prevent a Happier Life

Let’s be real – No person is immune to behaving in a toxic or dangerous way once in a while. What is important is knowing to move past these moments by learning to be better, embrace personal growth, instead of letting these habits stick around for longer than they are needed. Do not let them live rent free in your mind and heart damaging your property.

There are probably more toxic behaviors to list, but these 9 come to mind as the most important.

1. Victim Mentality 

When you have been the victim in a situation or multiple situations, especially before adulthood, it is hard to not try to protect yourself from these pains. Know there is a difference between protecting yourself and expecting to be hurt. Expecting to be a victim can keep you from feeling empowered and in control of your destiny.

“Master yourself, and become king of the world around you. Let no odds, chastisement, exile, doubt, fear, or ANY mental virii prevent you from accomplishing your dreams. Never be a victim of life; be it’s conqueror.” ” -Mike Norton-

2. Living in the Past or Living in the Future

It is good to acknowledge your past and learn from your life’s lesson, but you do not need to relive the pain and regrets of the past. It is good to grow towards the future and prepare for the life you vision, but not at the expense of missing out on the magic of living in the present. Both extreme mindsets lead to ignoring the needs of the people around you.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” -Bill Keane-

3. Creating Enemies 

Most everyone is just doing their best in life. Any person who intentionally causes pain is suffering with their own demons unaware of how poisoned their thinking is due to all the pain they have received from others in life. Acknowledging this pain, offering your understanding and forgiveness, can help them see through themselves. This act can create a friend from an enemy.

“When you begin to see that your enemy is suffering, that is the beginning of insight.” -Thich Nhat Hanh-

4. Holding on to Grudges

Sometimes, we are caught in situations with others where it’s not easy to let go soon after it happens. Some situations are traumatic and require a great deal of counseling, introspection and healing. Any grudge takes energy to keep and it gives this person power over you. Letting go of a grudge is more about your own peace & clarity versus forgiving the other person.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” -Buddha-

5. Mindlessly Living

It takes effort to live consciously. Reacting out of habit can cause a varied response with a mix of old patterns and emotional wounds mostly coming from the subconscious mind. When we live mindfully, we react to every situation with intelligence, wisdom, compassion and with the intent to create the best outcome possible.

“Mindless habitual behavior is the enemy of innovation.” -Rosabeth Moss Kanter-

6. Withholding Love

Love can be used as a weapon even more disastrous than hate, but to give your love freely is a gift to yourself and the world. This is the only way you can surround yourself with multiple loving people in the form of friendship, family and romantic encounters. When a person stumbles in your life who abuses your love, your heart will already be so full, their attempts to cause you pain will be minimal.

Take stock of your thoughts and behavior. Each night ask yourself, when were you negative when you could have been positive? When did you withhold love when you might have given it? When did you play a neurotic game instead of behaving in a powerful way? Use this process to self-correct. -Marianne Williamson-

7. The Need to Be Right

Feeling the need to be right is less about discovering the truth and more about protecting yourself from being wrong. It is an ego-based reaction. You can skillfully debate your position based on your truths and still listen respectfully to another person’s truths. If your reasoning is sound, maybe you will plant a seed in another’s mind for them to discover on their own, but that is all you can do when it comes to a tightly held belief. By listening to another person’s views, you too might be sent on the similar path to your own discoveries. Overall, it is about expanding the mind while letting go of your pride.

“He who establishes his argument by noise and command, shows that his reason is weak.” – Michel de Montaigne –

8. Cheating in Life

Not going about things the right way is a disservice to yourself. It robs you of the ability to feel full satisfaction of a fairly earned accomplishment. No matter how much you push away feelings of guilt to yourself or others who might have been affected by this action, they exist somewhere within and can easily resurface at any time.

“The first and worst of all frauds is to cheat one’s self. All sin is easy after that.” -Pearl Bailey-

9. Allowing Ego to Drive 

Most if not all of the above behaviors could all be connected to the ego. The most important personal development discovery is when you can decide which parts of your ego requires healing and which parts need to be discarded. Once enough negativity has been removed, you can start living your life guided by your inner voice. The ego becomes a trusted advisor who sits in the passenger seat while your higher self is driving the car.

Source

Justice for the riches

If you are what you eat, you should avoid nuts.

I’m talking about Heather Cho, who was the vice-president of Korean Airlines, the daughter of the CEO of Korean Air, and a very important hotshot in South Korean business scene which is mostly run by powerful families, known as chaebol. These business families are often known by how they can bend the law and act above it.

She had a good education (a Bachelor’s degree in Hotel Managament from Cornell University and an MBA from the University of Southern California), a career (She became an executive in 2006, and she was just 32 years of age), the riches, the fame……the perfect life as we see it.

But the evil entity in this story is not her, it is the Macadamia Nuts. Quite expensive than other nuts. You can wiki for other forms of trivia like nutritional value of these nuts….as those boring information are not part of this story.

Now, one fine day in early December last year, Ms. Cho was waiting to fly from the J.F.K. airport to Incheon, in a first class cabin of the Korean Airlines.

And then the macadamia nuts arrived to her in a bag. This is an important detail of the story. Because this small, seemingly insignificant, trivial detail derailed the natural course of events thereafter. It led to Heather Cho being interrogated by criminal prosecutors.

All because the Macadamia nuts arrived in a bag, and not in a bowl, it unscrewed some nuts in Miss Cho’s patience chamber and let out some rage. Apparently, the Korean Air company guidelines had it laid out that the nuts should be served in a bowl/dish and not in a plastic bag.

So what followed was that…

there were heated verbal and physical confrontation between Ms. Cho and crew members;
the head of the crew was physically attacked by Ms. Cho. He was made to kneel down and admit his mistake, while Ms. Cho yelled for the crew to “stop the plane”.
the aircraft was flown to the gate in order to expel the head of the crew; he had to take another flight to South Korea.
as a result of all these nutty incidents, the flight was delayed by 11 minutes, while about 250 passengers waited on board.

The nuts were laughing. More things were to follow, obviously. Although initially Korean Air initially defended Ms. Cho, widespread public outrage against this incident made Ms. Cho ask for a public apology. A Seoul court charged Cho, of forcing a flight to change its route, obstructing the flight’s captain in the performance of his duties, forcing a crew member off a plane and assaulting a crew member. Ms. Cho was sentenced to one year in prison, and was arrested by the end of December last year.

There could be many examples of the rich and powerful falling from the pedestal, of smugness being wiped out, of the arrogant being humbled, but this incident will take an award from me of being the nuttiest version of it all.

Source

How Your Moral Decisions are Shaped by a Bad Mood

Imagine you’re standing on a footbridge over some trolley tracks. Below you, an out-of-control trolley is bearing down on five unaware individuals standing on the track. Standing next to you is a large man. You realize that the only way to prevent the five people from being killed by the trolley is to push the man off the bridge, into the path of the trolley. His body would stop the trolley, saving the lives of the five people further down the track.

What would you do? Would you push the man to save the others? Or would you stand by and watch five people die, knowing that you could have saved them? Regardless of which option you choose, you no doubt believe that it will reflect your deeply held personal convictions, not trifles such as your mood.

Well, think again. In a paper published in the March edition of the journal Cognition, a group of German researchers have shown that people’s mood can strongly influence how they respond to this hypothetical scenario. Though this general observation is well-known in the literature on moral judgments and decision making, the current paper helps to resolve a question which has long lurked in the background. That is, how does this happen? What is the mechanism through which moods influence our moral decisions?

Early research showed a difference between personal moral decisions, such as the footbridge problem above, and impersonal moral decisions, such as whether to keep money found in a lost wallet. Areas of the brain usually characterized as responsible for processing emotional information seemed to be more strongly engaged when making these personal as opposed to impersonal moral decisions, they found. These scientists concluded that emotions were playing a strong role in these personal moral judgments while the more calculating, reasoning part of our mind was taking a siesta.

Unfortunately, given the various shortcomings of previous investigations on this particular topic, there are a variety of other explanations for the observation that emotions, or the more general emotional states known as moods, affect how people may respond to the footbridge scenario.

For example, moods could influence the thought process itself. This is the “moral thought” hypothesis: just as something like attention may change our thought process by biasing how we perceive two choices, mood could also bias our thought process, resulting in different patterns of moral thinking. This is different from the “moral emotion” hypothesis, which suggests that emotions directly change how we feel about the moral choice. That is, our good mood could making us feel better (or worse) about potentially pushing, and therefore more (or less) likely to do it. Resolving this ambiguity with neuroimaging studies such as the one detailed above is difficult because of fMRI’s low temporal resolution – a brain scan is similar to taking a camera with the exposure set to a couple of seconds. This makes it difficult to faithfully capture events which happen quickly, such as whether moods change the experience of the decision, or if they directly influence the thought process.

To test these competing ideas, participants were first put into a specific mood by listening to music and write down an autobiographical memory. Those in the positive mood condition listened to Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusic and wrote down a positive memory, while those in the negative mood condition listened to Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Opus 11 and wrote down a negative memory. The participants in the neutral mood condition listened to Kraftwerk’s Pocket Calculator and wrote about a neutral memory.

After this mood induction procedure, participants were then presented with the trolley scenario. Some participants were asked: “Do you think it is appropriate to be active and push the man?” while others were asked “Do you think it is appropriate to be passive and not push the man?”.

Participants in a positive mood were more inclined to agree to the question, regardless of which way it was asked. If asked if it was okay to push, they were more likely to push. If asked if it was okay not to push, they were more likely to not push. The opposite pattern was found for those in a negative mood.

If mood directly changed our experience of potentially pushing — the moral emotion hypothesis — then putting people in a positive mood should have made them more likely to push, no matter how the question was asked. The ‘moral thought’ hypothesis, on the other hand, accounts for these results quite nicely. Specifically, it is known from previous research that positive moods validate accessible thoughts, and negative moods invalidate accessible thoughts. So, for example, if I ask you if it’s okay to push, you will begin to consider the act of pushing, making this thought accessible. If you’re in a positive mood, that mood acts on this thought process by making you more likely to feel as though this is an acceptable behavior – it validates the thought of pushing. On the other hand, if I were to ask if it is okay to not push, the positive mood should validate the thought of not pushing, leading you to feel like not pushing is an acceptable behavior. Negative mood, which invalidates accessible thought, has a parallel effect, but in the opposite direction. Thus, this idea fits well with the observed pattern of results in this experiment.

These findings raise some further questions, some of which psychologists have been attempting to answer for a long time. Emotions and logical thought are frequently portrayed as competing processes, with emotions depicted as getting in the way of effective decision-making. The results here are another demonstration that instead of competing, our emotions and our cognitions interact and work closely to determine our behaviors. In fact, some researchers have recently begun to suggest that the division between these two is rather tough to make, and there may not actually be any meaningful difference between thought and emotion. After all, if moods and emotions play a fundamental role in information processing, what differentiates them on a functional level from other basic kinds of cognitive processes, such as attention or memory? This paper obviously doesn’t resolve this issue, but it is certainly another piece of the puzzle.

It would also be exciting, as the authors say, to see how more specific emotions might influence our moral decision-making. Anger and sadness are both negative emotions, but differ in important ways. Could these subtle differences also lead to differences in how we make moral judgments?

This paper demonstrates that our professed moral principles can be shifted by subtle differences in mood and how a question is posed. Though there are plenty of implications for our daily lives, one that arguably screams the loudest concerns the yawning gap between how humans actually think and behave, and how the legal system pretends they think and behave. The relative rigidity of western law stands in stark contrast to the plasticity of human thought and behavior. If a simple difference in mood changes how likely one person is to throw another over a footbridge, then does this imply that the law should account for a wider variety of situational factors than it does presently? Regardless of how you feel, it is clear that this paper, and behavioral science in general, should contribute to the decision. Having a legal system based on reality is far preferable to one based on fantasy.

Source

Moral Decisions and a Bad Mood

Imagine you’re standing on a footbridge over some trolley tracks. Below you, an out-of-control trolley is bearing down on five unaware individuals standing on the track. Standing next to you is a large man. You realize that the only way to prevent the five people from being killed by the trolley is to push the man off the bridge, into the path of the trolley. His body would stop the trolley, saving the lives of the five people further down the track.

What would you do? Would you push the man to save the others? Or would you stand by and watch five people die, knowing that you could have saved them? Regardless of which option you choose, you no doubt believe that it will reflect your deeply held personal convictions, not trifles such as your mood.

Well, think again. In a paper published in the March edition of the journal Cognition, a group of German researchers have shown that people’s mood can strongly influence how they respond to this hypothetical scenario. Though this general observation is well-known in the literature on moral judgments and decision making, the current paper helps to resolve a question which has long lurked in the background. That is, how does this happen? What is the mechanism through which moods influence our moral decisions?

Early research showed a difference between personal moral decisions, such as the footbridge problem above, and impersonal moral decisions, such as whether to keep money found in a lost wallet. Areas of the brain usually characterized as responsible for processing emotional information seemed to be more strongly engaged when making these personal as opposed to impersonal moral decisions, they found. These scientists concluded that emotions were playing a strong role in these personal moral judgments while the more calculating, reasoning part of our mind was taking a siesta.

Unfortunately, given the various shortcomings of previous investigations on this particular topic, there are a variety of other explanations for the observation that emotions, or the more general emotional states known as moods, affect how people may respond to the footbridge scenario.

For example, moods could influence the thought process itself. This is the “moral thought” hypothesis: just as something like attention may change our thought process by biasing how we perceive two choices, mood could also bias our thought process, resulting in different patterns of moral thinking. This is different from the “moral emotion” hypothesis, which suggests that emotions directly change how we feel about the moral choice. That is, our good mood could making us feel better (or worse) about potentially pushing, and therefore more (or less) likely to do it. Resolving this ambiguity with neuroimaging studies such as the one detailed above is difficult because of fMRI’s low temporal resolution – a brain scan is similar to taking a camera with the exposure set to a couple of seconds. This makes it difficult to faithfully capture events which happen quickly, such as whether moods change the experience of the decision, or if they directly influence the thought process.

To test these competing ideas, participants were first put into a specific mood by listening to music and write down an autobiographical memory. Those in the positive mood condition listened to Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusic and wrote down a positive memory, while those in the negative mood condition listened to Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Opus 11 and wrote down a negative memory. The participants in the neutral mood condition listened to Kraftwerk’s Pocket Calculator and wrote about a neutral memory.

After this mood induction procedure, participants were then presented with the trolley scenario. Some participants were asked: “Do you think it is appropriate to be active and push the man?” while others were asked “Do you think it is appropriate to be passive and not push the man?”.

Participants in a positive mood were more inclined to agree to the question, regardless of which way it was asked. If asked if it was okay to push, they were more likely to push. If asked if it was okay not to push, they were more likely to not push. The opposite pattern was found for those in a negative mood.

If mood directly changed our experience of potentially pushing — the moral emotion hypothesis — then putting people in a positive mood should have made them more likely to push, no matter how the question was asked. The ‘moral thought’ hypothesis, on the other hand, accounts for these results quite nicely. Specifically, it is known from previous research that positive moods validate accessible thoughts, and negative moods invalidate accessible thoughts. So, for example, if I ask you if it’s okay to push, you will begin to consider the act of pushing, making this thought accessible. If you’re in a positive mood, that mood acts on this thought process by making you more likely to feel as though this is an acceptable behavior – it validates the thought of pushing. On the other hand, if I were to ask if it is okay to not push, the positive mood should validate the thought of not pushing, leading you to feel like not pushing is an acceptable behavior. Negative mood, which invalidates accessible thought, has a parallel effect, but in the opposite direction. Thus, this idea fits well with the observed pattern of results in this experiment.

These findings raise some further questions, some of which psychologists have been attempting to answer for a long time. Emotions and logical thought are frequently portrayed as competing processes, with emotions depicted as getting in the way of effective decision-making. The results here are another demonstration that instead of competing, our emotions and our cognitions interact and work closely to determine our behaviors. In fact, some researchers have recently begun to suggest that the division between these two is rather tough to make, and there may not actually be any meaningful difference between thought and emotion. After all, if moods and emotions play a fundamental role in information processing, what differentiates them on a functional level from other basic kinds of cognitive processes, such as attention or memory? This paper obviously doesn’t resolve this issue, but it is certainly another piece of the puzzle.

It would also be exciting, as the authors say, to see how more specific emotions might influence our moral decision-making. Anger and sadness are both negative emotions, but differ in important ways. Could these subtle differences also lead to differences in how we make moral judgments?

This paper demonstrates that our professed moral principles can be shifted by subtle differences in mood and how a question is posed. Though there are plenty of implications for our daily lives, one that arguably screams the loudest concerns the yawning gap between how humans actually think and behave, and how the legal system pretends they think and behave. The relative rigidity of western law stands in stark contrast to the plasticity of human thought and behavior. If a simple difference in mood changes how likely one person is to throw another over a footbridge, then does this imply that the law should account for a wider variety of situational factors than it does presently? Regardless of how you feel, it is clear that this paper, and behavioral science in general, should contribute to the decision. Having a legal system based on reality is far preferable to one based on fantasy.

Source