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Emotions: Of Man AND Beast

 

sn-jealousyHEmotions : of Man and Beast

Emotions are often ascribed to animals, regardless of scientific proofs.  Ask any pet owner; they would not even consider skepticism about this matter.  Sure, we attribute emotions to their behavior. What looks like anger, we call it anger.  Many would possibly hold to the idea that any behavior appearing to be emotional only calls forth a label from an observer, or owner.  In other words, it is a matter of projection; projecting what we feel as human beings on to the animals mannerisms we interpret.

However, I am aligned to the findings of this study below.  Emotions are a complex , active stream of conscious interpretations spinning around our values. It is active, reactive and dynamic while orbiting our Will striving for the control of our decisions for comfort and peace. 

If Animals possess emotions, what does this mean about their place in the world? How does it compare to Humanity? I am eager to write on this topic, but I must refrain for another time.  Until then, enjoy this article.


 

Dogs experience human-like jealousy

Many dog owners are sure their pooches get jealous, particularly when the person pays too much attention to someone else’s Fido. Now, scientists have confirmed that these dog lovers are right. Our canine pals can act every bit as resentful, bitter, and hostile as a jealous child—even if the interloper is nothing more than a stuffed toy hound. The researchers modified a test originally developed to assess the emotion in 6-month-old infants. They videotaped 36 dogs as they watched their owners completely ignore them while turning their attention to three different objects: a realistic-looking stuffed dog (which briefly barked and wagged its tail after a button was pushed), a plastic jack-o’-lantern, and a book. The dogs’ behaviors were then rated for aggressiveness, attention seeking, and interest in the owner or object. The fake pooch elicited the strongest response[1], the researchers report today in PLOS ONE. All the dogs pushed at their owners when the people talked to and petted the toy, and nearly 87% bumped it or tried to get between it and their beloved human. Almost 42% of the dogs actually snapped at the stuffed interloper. The fact that the rival was faux didn’t seem to matter—even pooches that sniffed the toy’s rear end (which 86% of the subjects did) behaved aggressively toward it. The study supports the idea that not all jealousy requires the ability to reflect on one’s self and to understand conscious intentions, as some scientists have argued, but that there is a more basic form of the emotion that likely evolved as a way of securing resources such as food and affection. Infants experience it if their mothers gaze affectionately at other babies, and so do members of another social species: dogs.

Posted in Brain & Behavior, Evolution, Plants & Animals

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Oxytocin: Remember the good times, but don’t forget the Bad

romancecar

 The Bond of Love


 

I have read a number of  articles related to oxytocin and its effects on our behavior. This hormone has a wide variety of influences upon different brain-body mechanisms. It has been more recently studied for its impact on “attraction” and “bonding”. I realize that some readers may believe I am specifically dealing with sexual interests, however this hormone is not only influential in sexual interests.  In fact, it has been shown to be also important in maintaining faithfulness to your partner as well.

“Oxytocin affects social distance between adult males and females, and may be responsible at least in part for romantic attraction and subsequent monogamous pair bonding. An oxytocin nasal spray caused men in a monogamous relationship, but not single men, to increase the distance between themselves and an attractive woman during a first encounter by 10 to 15 centimeters.” (“Oxytocin”).

Furthermore, studies have shown that oxytocin can enhance the trust attributed to another individual, but only when there was no reason not to trust.  However, in relationships which have proven harmful or dangerous, Oxytocin will not enhance trust, but enhance the vigilance to avoid a repeat offense.  

“oxytocin only increases trust when there is no reason to be distrustful.[44]” (“Oxytocin”).
“ oxytocin increases approach/avoidance to certain social stimuli. The second theory states that oxytocin increases the salience of certain social stimuli, causing the animal or human to pay closer attention to socially relevant stimuli.[93]” (“Oxytocin”).

 

References:

“Oxytocin.” Oxytocin – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, n.d. Web. 19 July 2014.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxytocin.


 

With this in mind, the following article may seem more clear in the context discussed. Enjoy.

Greg E. Williams, MD


 

Study Finds Oxytocin Strengthens Memories of Both Bad and Good Events

by Marla Paul on Jul 22, 2013

It turns out the love hormone oxytocin is two-faced. Oxytocin has long been known as the warm, fuzzy hormone that promotes feelings of love, social bonding, and wellbeing. It’s even being tested as an anti-anxiety drug. But new Northwestern Medicine® research shows oxytocin also can cause emotional pain, an entirely new, darker identity for the hormone.

Oxytocin appears to be the reason stressful social situations, perhaps being bullied at school or tormented by a boss, reverberate long past the event and can trigger fear and anxiety in the future.

That’s because the hormone actually strengthens social memory in one specific region of the brain, Northwestern scientists discovered.

If a social experience is negative or stressful, the hormone activates a part of the brain that intensifies the memory. Oxytocin also increases the susceptibility to feeling fearful and anxious during stressful events going forward. (Presumably, oxytocin also intensifies positive social memories and, thereby, increases feelings of wellbeing, but that research is ongoing.)

The findings are important because chronic social stress is one of the leading causes of anxiety and depression, while positive social interactions enhance emotional health. The research, which was done in mice, is particularly relevant because oxytocin currently is being tested as an anti-anxiety drug in several clinical trials.

“By understanding the oxytocin system’s dual role in triggering or reducing anxiety, depending on the social context, we can optimize oxytocin treatments that improve wellbeing instead of triggering negative reactions,” said Jelena Radulovic, MD, PhD, the senior author of the study and the Dunbar Professsor of Bipolar Disease at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The paper was published July 21 in Nature Neuroscience.

This is the first study to link oxytocin to social stress and its ability to increase anxiety and fear in response to future stress. Northwestern scientists also discovered the brain region responsible for these effects – the lateral septum – and the pathway or route oxytocin uses in this area to amplify fear and anxiety.

The scientists discovered that oxytocin strengthens negative social memory and future anxiety by triggering an important signaling molecule – ERK (extracellular signal regulated kinases) – that becomes activated for six hours after a negative social experience. ERK causes enhanced fear, Radulovic believes, by stimulating the brain’s fear pathways, many of which pass through the lateral septum. The region is involved in emotional and stress responses.

The findings surprised the researchers, who were expecting oxytocin to modulate positive emotions in memory, based on its long association with love and social bonding.

“Oxytocin is usually considered a stress-reducing agent based on decades of research,” said Yomayra Guzman, a doctoral student in Radulovic’s lab and the study’s lead author. “With this novel animal model, we showed how it enhances fear rather than reducing it and where the molecular changes are occurring in our central nervous system.”

The new research follows three recent human studies with oxytocin, all of which are beginning to offer a more complicated view of the hormone’s role in emotions.

All the new experiments were done in the lateral septum. This region has the highest oxytocin levels in the brain and has high levels of oxytocin receptors across all species from mice to humans.

“This is important because the variability of oxytocin receptors in different species is huge,” Radulovic said. “We wanted the research to be relevant for humans, too.”

Experiments with mice in the study established that 1) oxytocin is essential for strengthening the memory of negative social interactions and 2) oxytocin increases fear and anxiety in future stressful situations.

Experiment 1: Oxytocin Strengthens Bad Memories

Three groups of mice were individually placed in cages with aggressive mice and experienced social defeat, a stressful experience for them. One group was missing its oxytocin receptors, essentially the plug by which the hormone accesses brain cells. The lack of receptors means oxytocin couldn’t enter the mice’s brain cells. The second group had an increased number of receptors so their brain cells were flooded with the hormone. The third control group had a normal number of receptors.

Six hours later, the mice were returned to cages with the aggressive mice. The mice that were missing their oxytocin receptors didn’t appear to remember the aggressive mice and show any fear. Conversely, when mice with increased numbers of oxytocin receptors were reintroduced to the aggressive mice, they showed an intense fear reaction and avoided the aggressive mice.

Experiment 2: Oxytocin Increases Fear and Anxiety in Future Stress

Again, the three groups of mice were exposed to the stressful experience of social defeat in the cages of other more aggressive mice. This time, six hours after the social stress, the mice were put in a box in which they received a brief electric shock, which startles them but is not painful. Then 24 hours later, the mice were returned to the same box but did not receive a shock.

The mice missing their oxytocin receptors did not show any enhanced fear when they re-entered the box in which they received the shock. The second group, which had extra oxytocin receptors, showed much greater fear in the box. The third control group exhibited an average fear response.

“This experiment shows that after a negative social experience the oxytocin triggers anxiety and fear in a new stressful situation,” Radulovic said.

This research was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health, grants R01 MH078064 and MH092065.

Members of the media, please contact Marla Paul via e-mail or at (312) 503-8928 for more information about this story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cranky Characters


Grumpy, Grumpy, Grumpy


 

grumpy1

Yes, we are familiar with the cranky, grumbling, characters in our life spaces from time to time. Yet according to this study it is more related to the perspective not the problems encountered. Further, the article lends evidence to open minds as related to having more optimism. Enjoy.

GEWms

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Why do Haters Have to Hate? Newly Identified Personality Trait Holds Clues

Contact:          Joseph Diorio
                        jdiorio@asc.upenn.edu
                        215-746-1798
PHILADELPHIA (August 26, 2013) – New research has uncovered the reason why some people seem to dislike everything while others seem to like everything. Apparently, it’s all part of our individual personality – a dimension that researchers have coined “dispositional attitude.
            People with a positive dispositional attitude have a strong tendency to like things, whereas people with a negative dispositional attitude have a strong tendency to dislike things, according to research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. The journal article, “Attitudes without objects: Evidence for a dispositional attitude, its measurement, and its consequences,” was written by Justin Hepler, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Dolores Albarracín, Ph.D., the Martin Fishbein Chair of Communication and Professor of Psychology at Penn.
            “The dispositional attitude construct represents a new perspective in which attitudes are not simply a function of the properties of the stimuli under consideration, but are also a function of the properties of the evaluator,” wrote the authors. “[For example], at first glance, it may not seem useful to know someone’s feelings about architecture when assessing their feelings about health care. After all, health care and architecture are independent stimuli with unique sets of properties, so attitudes toward these objects should also be independent.”
            However, they note, there is still one critical factor that an individual’s attitudes will have in common: the individual who formed the attitudes.  “Some people may simply be more prone to focusing on positive features and others on negative features,” Hepler said.
            To discover whether people differ in the tendency to like or dislike things, Hepler and Albarracín created a scale that requires people to report their attitudes toward a wide variety of unrelated stimuli, such as architecturecold showerspolitics, and soccer. Upon knowing how much people (dis)like these specific things, the responses were then averaged together to calculate their dispositional attitude (i.e., to calculate how much they tend to like or dislike things in general). The theory is that if individuals differ in the general tendency to like versus dislike objects, attitudes toward independent objects may actually be related. Throughout the studies the researchers found that people with generally positive dispositional attitudes are more open than people with generally negative dispositional attitudes. In day-to-day practice, this means that people with positive dispositional attitudes may be more prone to actually buy new products, get vaccine shots, follow regular positive actions (recycling, driving carefully, etc.)
            “This surprising and novel discovery expands attitude theory by demonstrating that an attitude is not simply a function of an object’s properties, but it is also a function of the properties of the individual who evaluates the object,” concluded Hepler and Albarracín. “Overall, the present research provides clear support for the dispositional attitude as a meaningful construct that has important implications for attitude theory and research.”

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Posted by on July 18, 2014 in Interesting Items, Personality

 

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Her revealing face: Indicative Traits of women by their face?

 

 

Face Traits

Women’s traits ‘written on face’

A woman’s personality traits may be “written all over her face”, research has suggested.

The Glasgow University and New Scientist study examined whether self-assessed personality characteristics could be identified from appearance.

It claimed that women’s faces were easier to read than men’s faces, with greater success in matching traits.

Glasgow University’s Dr Rob Jenkins said: “We did not expect there to be such a difference between the sexes.”

Dr Jenkins, a specialist in the psychology of social interaction, devised the study, along with Professor Richard Wiseman, of the University of Hertfordshire.

Dr Jenkins said the research should pave the way for further investigations into the link between a person’s character and their appearance.

“Past studies have shown that people do associate facial appearance with certain personality traits and that our snap judgements of faces really do suggest a kernel of truth about the personality of their owner,” he said.

Our perception of lucky-looking male faces is at odds with reality
Dr Rob Jenkins
Glasgow University

For the study of more than 1,000 New Scientist readers, participants were asked to submit a photograph of themselves looking directly at the camera and to complete an online personality questionnaire – rating how lucky, humorous, religious and trustworthy they believed themselves to be.

From the personality self-assessments, the experts identified groups of men and women scoring at the extremes of each of the four personality dimensions.

The photographs were then blended electronically to make several composite images.

“This allowed us to calculate an average of the two faces,” Dr Jenkins said. “For example, if both faces have bushy eyebrows and deep-set eyes, the resulting composite would also have these features.

“We wanted to know whether people would be able to identify the personalities of the individuals behind the images.

“To find this out we paired up composites from the extreme ends of each dimension and posted them online.

“For example, the composite face from the women who had rated themselves as extremely lucky was paired with the composite from those who had rated themselves as very unlucky.”

Transparent faces

More than 6,500 visitors to the site attempted to identify the lucky, humorous, religious and trustworthy faces. From this, it appeared that women’s faces were more transparent, or “gave more away”, than men’s faces.

A total of 70% of people were able to correctly identify the lucky face and 73% correctly identified the religious one.

In line with past research, the female composite associated with trustworthiness was also accurately identified, with a 54% success rate.

Only one of the female composites was not correctly identified – the one from the women who assessed themselves as humorous.

However, Dr Jenkins said none of the male composites was correctly identified.

“The images identified with being humorous, trustworthy and religious all came in around chance, whilst the lucky composite was only correctly identified 22% of the time,” he said.

“This suggests that our perception of lucky-looking male faces is at odds with reality.

“If there was nothing in this at all then the score should have been 50% across the board, but it wasn’t. Perhaps female faces are simply more informative than male ones.”

Dr Jenkins added that other reasons to explain the findings could be that male participants were less insightful or less honest when rating their personalities, or perhaps that women were more thoughtful when selecting the photographs they submitted.

“Overall the data is fascinating,” he said. “It pushes the envelope in that we are looking at subtle aspects of psychological make-up.

“It also shows that people readily associate facial appearance with certain personality traits.

“It’s possible that there is some correlation between appearance and personality because both are influenced by our genetic make-up.”

 

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About.com Search – Find it now!

Search the power of About’s network of topics

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Posted by on June 4, 2014 in Tools Worth Sharing

 

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Psychology Metasites and Megasites

Links to psychology metasites, sites with content and/or links spanning a large number of areas of psychology.

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