Do you see ‘the self’ in your brain or your heart?

Via ScienceDaily:

‘”We view our research as a first step toward reviving the debate about which part of our body contains the seat of the self — a debate that dates back to the ancient Greek philosophers,” said Hajo Adam, an assistant professor of management at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business. “Our findings demonstrate not only that the preference for the brain versus the heart as the location of the self systematically depends on a person’s self-construal — meaning the perceptions that individuals have about their thoughts, feelings and actions in relation to others — but also that the location of the self has important implications for people’s opinions on contentious medical issues as well as prosocial contributions.”

‘People with an independent self-construal tend to assert the autonomous nature of the self, realize their internal attributes and influence their environment. In pursuit of these self-relevant goals, these people often engage in thoughts, conversations and behaviors that are conceptually related to the brain. In contrast, people with an interdependent self-construal tend to be part of a group, maintain harmonious relationships and adjust to others. In pursuit of these self-relevant goals, these people often engage in thoughts, conversations and behaviors that are conceptually related not only to the brain, but also to the heart.’

Awe and Altruism

Via Science Daily:

‘”Our investigation indicates that awe, although often fleeting and hard to describe, serves a vital social function. By diminishing the emphasis on the individual self, awe may encourage people to forgo strict self-interest to improve the welfare of others,” said Paul Piff, PhD, assistant professor of psychology and social behavior at the University of California, Irvine.

‘”When experiencing awe, you may not, egocentrically speaking, feel like you’re at the center of the world anymore,” Piff said. “By shifting attention toward larger entities and diminishing the emphasis on the individual self, we reasoned that awe would trigger tendencies to engage in pro-social behaviors that may be costly for you but that benefit and help others.”

‘While the findings supported the researchers’ initial hypothesis, the scientists were surprised at how consistently different types of awe and different elicitors of awe were able to promote cooperative behavior. In one experiment, they elicited awe by showing droplets of colored water falling into a bowl of milk in slow motion. In another, they elicited a negative form of awe using a montage of threatening natural phenomena, such as tornadoes and volcanoes. In a final experiment, the researchers induced awe by situating participants in a grove of towering eucalyptus trees.

‘”Across all these different elicitors of awe, we found the same sorts of effects — people felt smaller, less self-important, and behaved in a more pro-social fashion,” said Piff. “Might awe cause people to become more invested in the greater good, giving more to charity, volunteering to help others, or doing more to lessen their impact on the environment? Our research would suggest that the answer is yes.”‘

New Zealand Legally Recognises Animals as ‘Sentient’ Beings

From Animal Equity:

‘An ammendment to New Zealand law on behalf of the The Animal Welfare Amendment Bill, which was passed on Tuesday, states that animals, like humans, are “sentient” beings.

‘”To say that animals are sentient is to state explicitly that they can experience both positive and negative emotions, including pain and distress,” said Dr Virginia Williams, chair of the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee.’