Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy
Showing posts with label Expectations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Expectations. Show all posts

Monday, July 8, 2024

Fake beauty queens charm judges at the Miss AI pageant

Chloe Veltman
Originally posted 9 June 24

Here is an excerpt:

But in the real world, beauty pageants are fading. They are no longer the giant cultural draw they once were, attracting tens of millions of TV viewers during their peak in the 1970s and '80s.

The events are controversial, because there’s a long history of them feeding into harmful stereotypes of women. 

Indeed, all 10 Miss AI finalists fit in with traditional beauty queen tropes: They all look young, buxom and thin.

The controversial nature of pageants, coupled with the application of cutting-edge AI technology, is proving to be catnip for the media and the public. Simply put, sexy images of fake women are an easy way to connect with fans.

"With this technology, we're very much in the early stages, where I think this is the perfect type of content that's highly engaging and super low hanging fruit to go after, said Eric Dahan, CEO of the social media marketing company Mighty Joy.

In an interview with NPR, beauty pageant historian and Miss AI judge Sally-Ann Fawcett said she hopes to be able to change these stereotypes "from the inside" by focusing her judging efforts on the messaging around these AI beauty queens — and not just on their looks.


Here are some thoughts:

While the use of AI to create realistic human models is technologically impressive, its application in a beauty pageant context is concerning. It reinforces the idea that a woman's worth is primarily based on her physical appearance, which can have negative psychological impacts, especially on young girls and women. The technology could be better utilized to promote more positive and inclusive representations of beauty and human diversity.

I would urge the organizers and participants of the Miss AI pageant to critically reflect on the potential harm their actions may cause. They should strive to use this powerful technology in a more responsible and socially conscious manner, challenging rather than reinforcing harmful stereotypes and objectification. Promoting diverse and inclusive representations of beauty would be a more ethical and psychologically healthy approach.

Friday, October 2, 2020

How to motivate people to do good for others

Erez Yoeli
TED Talk

How can we get people to do more good: to go to the polls, give to charity, conserve resources or just generally act better towards others? MIT research scientist Erez Yoeli shares a simple checklist for harnessing the power of reputations -- or our collective desire to be seen as generous and kind instead of selfish -- to motivate people to act in the interest of others. Learn more about how small changes to your approach to getting people to do good could yield surprising results.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

It Pays to Be Yourself

Francesca Gino
Originally posted 13 Feb 20

Whether it’s trying to land a new job or a new deal or client, we often focus on making a good initial impression on people, especially when they don’t know us well or the stakes are high. One strategy people often use is to cater to the interests, preferences, and expectations of the person they want to impress. Most people, it seems, believe this is a more promising strategy than being themselves and use it in high-stakes interpersonal first meetings. But research I conducted with Ovul Sezer of the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill and Laura Huang of Harvard Business School found those beliefs are wrong.

Our research confirmed that catering to others’ interests and expectations is quite common. When we asked over 450 employed adults to imagine they were about to have an important professional interaction — such as interviewing for their dream job, conducting a valuable negotiation for their company, pitching an entrepreneurial idea to potential investors, or making a presentation to a client — 66% of them indicated they would use catering techniques, rather than simply being themselves; 71% reported believing that catering would be the most effective approach in the situation.

But another study we conducted found that catering was much less effective than being yourself. We asked 166 entrepreneurs to participate in a “fast-pitch” competition held at a private university in the northeastern United States. Each entrepreneur presented his or her venture idea to a panel of three judges: experienced, active members of angel investment groups. The ideas pitched were all in the early stages; none had received any external financing. At the end of the event, the judges collectively deliberated to choose 10 semifinalists who would be invited to participate in the final round. After entrepreneurs made their pitches, we had them answer a few questions about their presentations. We found that when they were genuine in their pitches, they were more than three times as likely to be chosen as semifinalists than when they tried to cater to the judges.

The info is here.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

The Worst Patients in the World

David Freedman
The Atlantic - July 2019 Issue

Here are two excerpts:

Recriminations tend to focus on how Americans pay for health care, and on our hospitals and physicians. Surely if we could just import Singapore’s or Switzerland’s health-care system to our nation, the logic goes, we’d get those countries’ lower costs and better results. Surely, some might add, a program like Medicare for All would help by discouraging high-cost, ineffective treatments.

But lost in these discussions is, well, us. We ought to consider the possibility that if we exported Americans to those other countries, their systems might end up with our costs and outcomes. That although Americans (rightly, in my opinion) love the idea of Medicare for All, they would rebel at its reality. In other words, we need to ask: Could the problem with the American health-care system lie not only with the American system but with American patients?


American patients’ flagrant disregard for routine care is another problem. Take the failure to stick to prescribed drugs, one more bad behavior in which American patients lead the world. The estimated per capita cost of drug noncompliance is up to three times as high in the U.S. as in the European Union. And when Americans go to the doctor, they are more likely than people in other countries to head to expensive specialists. A British Medical Journal study found that U.S. patients end up with specialty referrals at more than twice the rate of U.K. patients. They also end up in the ER more often, at enormous cost. According to another study, this one of chronic migraine sufferers, 42 percent of U.S. respondents had visited an emergency department for their headaches, versus 14 percent of U.K. respondents.

Finally, the U.S. stands out as a place where death, even for the very aged, tends to be fought tooth and nail, and not cheaply. “In the U.K., Canada, and many other countries, death is seen as inevitable,” Somava Saha said. “In the U.S., death is seen as optional. When [people] become sick near the end of their lives, they have faith in what a heroic health-care system will accomplish for them.”

The info is here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Art of Decision-Making

Joshua Rothman
The New Yorker
Originally published January 21, 2019

Here is an excerpt:

For centuries, philosophers have tried to understand how we make decisions and, by extension, what makes any given decision sound or unsound, rational or irrational. “Decision theory,” the destination on which they’ve converged, has tended to hold that sound decisions flow from values. Faced with a choice—should we major in economics or in art history?—we first ask ourselves what we value, then seek to maximize that value.

From this perspective, a decision is essentially a value-maximizing equation. If you’re going out and can’t decide whether to take an umbrella, you could come to a decision by following a formula that assigns weights to the probability of rain, the pleasure you’ll feel in strolling unencumbered, and the displeasure you’ll feel if you get wet. Most decisions are more complex than this, but the promise of decision theory is that there’s a formula for everything, from launching a raid in Abbottabad to digging an oil well in the North Sea. Plug in your values, and the right choice pops out.

In recent decades, some philosophers have grown dissatisfied with decision theory. They point out that it becomes less useful when we’re unsure what we care about, or when we anticipate that what we care about might shift.

The info is here.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Expectations Bias Moral Evaluations

Derek Powell and Zachary Horne
PsyArXiv Preprints
Originally created on December 23, 2018


People’s expectations play an important role in their reactions to events. There is often disappointment when events fail to meet expectations and a special thrill to having one’s expectations exceeded. We propose that expectations influence evaluations through information-theoretic principles: less expected events do more to inform us about the state of the world than do more expected events. An implication of this proposal is that people may have inappropriately muted responses to morally significant but expected events. In two preregistered experiments, we found that people’s judgments of morally-significant events were affected by the likelihood of that event. People were more upset about events that were unexpected (e.g., a robbery at a clothing store) than events that were more expected (e.g., a robbery at a convenience store). We argue that this bias has pernicious moral consequences, including leading to reduced concern for victims in most need of help.

The preprint is here.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Expectations Bias Moral Evaluations

Derek Powell & Zachary Horne
Originally posted September 13, 2018


People’s expectations play an important role in their reactions to events. There is often disappointment when events fail to meet expectations and a special thrill to having one’s expectations exceeded. We propose that expectations influence evaluations through information-theoretic principles: less expected events do more to inform us about the state of the world than do more expected events. An implication of this proposal is that people may have inappropriately muted responses to morally significant but expected events. In two preregistered experiments, we found that people’s judgments of morally-significant events were affected by the likelihood of that event. People were more upset about events that were unexpected (e.g., a robbery at a clothing store) than events that were more expected (e.g., a robbery at a convenience store). We argue that this bias has pernicious moral consequences, including leading to reduced concern for victims in most need of help.

The research/preprint is here.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Big Island considers adding honesty policy to ethics code

Associated Press
Originally posted September 14, 2018

Big Island officials are considering adding language to the county's ethics code requiring officers and employees to provide the public with information that is accurate and factual.

The county council voted last week in support of the measure, requiring county employees to provide honest information to "the best of each officer's or employee's abilities and knowledge," West Hawaii Today reported . It's set to go before council for final approval next week.

The current measure has changed from Puna Councilwoman Eileen O'Hara's original bill that simply stated "officers and employees should be truthful."

She introduced the measure in response to residents' concerns, but amended it to gain the support of her colleagues, she said.

The info is here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

How Sex Robots Could Revolutionize Marriage—for the Better

Marina Adshade
Originally posted August 14, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

The question then is: What happens to marriage when sexbot technology provides a low-cost alternative to easy sexual access in marriage? One possibility is a reversal of the past century of societal change, which tied together marriage and sexual intimacy, and a return to the perception of marriage as a productive household unit.

Those who fear that sexbot technology will have a negative impact on marriage rates see sexbot technology as a substitute to sexual access in marriage. If they are correct, a decrease in the price of sexual access outside of marriage will decrease the demand for sexual access in marriage, and marriage rates will fall. It could just as easily be argued, however, that within marriage sexual access and household production are complements in consumption—in other words, goods or services that are often consumed together, like tea and sugar, or cellular data and phone apps. If that is the case, then, consumer theory predicts that easy access to sexbot technology will actually increase the rate of lifetime marriage, since a fall in the price of a good increases the demand for complements in consumption, just as a fall in the price of cellular data would likely increase demand for phone streaming services. Moreover, if sexual access through sexbot technology is a complement to household production, then we could observe an increase in the quality of marriages and, as a result, a reduction in rates of divorce.

The info is here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Harnessing the Placebo Effect: Exploring the Influence of Physician Characteristics on Placebo Response

Lauren C. Howe, J. Parker Goyer, and Alia J. Crum
Health Psychology, 36(11), 1074-1082.


Objective: Research on placebo/nocebo effects suggests that expectations can influence treatment outcomes, but placebo/nocebo effects are not always evident. This research demonstrates that a provider’s social behavior moderates the effect of expectations on physiological outcomes.

Methods: After inducing an allergic reaction in participants through a histamine skin prick test, a health care provider administered a cream with no active ingredients and set either positive expectations (cream will reduce reaction) or negative expectations (cream will increase reaction). The provider demonstrated either high or low warmth, or either high or low competence.

Results: The impact of expectations on allergic response was enhanced when the provider acted both warmer and more competent and negated when the provider acted colder and less competent.

Conclusion: This study suggests that placebo effects should be construed not as a nuisance variable with mysterious impact but instead as a psychological phenomenon that can be understood and harnessed to improve treatment outcomes.

Link to the pdf is here.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Why Some People Get Burned Out and Others Don't

Kandi Wiens and Annie McKee
Harvard Business Review
Originally posted November 23, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

What You Can Do to Manage Stress and Avoid Burnout

People do all kinds of destructive things to deal with stress—they overeat, abuse drugs and alcohol, and push harder rather than slowing down. What we learned from our study of chief medical officers is that people can leverage their emotional intelligence to deal with stress and ward off burnout. You, too, might want to try the following:

Don’t be the source of your stress. Too many of us create our own stress, with its full bodily response, merely by thinking about or anticipating future episodes or encounters that might be stressful. People who have a high need to achieve or perfectionist tendencies may be more prone to creating their own stress. We learned from our study that leaders who are attuned to the pressures they put on themselves are better able to control their stress level. As one CMO described, “I’ve realized that much of my stress is self-inflicted from years of being hard on myself. Now that I know the problems it causes for me, I can talk myself out of the non-stop pressure.”

Recognize your limitations. Becoming more aware of your strengths and weaknesses will clue you in to where you need help. In our study, CMOs described the transition from a clinician to leadership role as being a major source of their stress. Those who recognized when the demands were outweighing their abilities, didn’t go it alone—they surrounded themselves with trusted advisors and asked for help.

The article is here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

From the Immoral to the Incorruptible: How Prescriptive Expectations Turn the Powerful Into Paragons of Virtue

Miao Hu, Derek D. Rucker, Adam D. Galinsky
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, June 2016 vol. 42 no. 6 826-837


Ample evidence documents that power increases unethical behavior. This article introduces a new theoretical framework for understanding when power leads to more versus less unethical behavior. Our key proposition is that people hold expectations about power that are both descriptive (how the powerful do behave) and prescriptive (how the powerful should behave). People hold descriptive beliefs that the powerful do behave more unethically than the powerless, but they hold prescriptive beliefs that the powerful should behave more ethically than the powerless. Whichever expectation—descriptive or prescriptive—is salient affects how power influences one’s behavior. Three experiments demonstrate that activating descriptive expectations for power leads the powerful to cheat more than the powerless, whereas activating prescriptive expectations leads the powerful to cheat less than the powerless. The current work offers new ideas for curbing unethical behavior by those with power: focus their attention on prescriptive expectations for power.

The article is here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Doctors often overestimate promise of newly approved drugs

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay News
Originally posted April 12, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

The U.S. Congress in 2012 gave FDA the power to designate a drug as a "breakthrough therapy" if preliminary clinical evidence suggests an advantage over existing medications.

But a survey of nearly 700 doctors revealed that many tended to misinterpret "breakthrough." Doctors often believed the drugs were supported by stronger evidence than the law requires to achieve that designation, said lead author Dr. Aaron Kesselheim. He is a faculty member at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

"When people hear 'breakthrough,' it gives them an inappropriately elevated sense of what the drug might do," Kesselheim said. "It may give physicians false reassurance about the outcomes they might expect to receive when they prescribe it."

The article is here.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Corporates Manipulate and Succeed: Is this the way forward for start-ups?

By Robert Parmer
The Startup Magazine
Originally posted August 3, 2015

Here is an except:

Companies aren't always as independent, benevolent, or community-oriented as they seem. In fact, many popular companies are actually owned and operated by much larger (and often less popular) corporations.

I was once in the body care store “The Body Shop” and overheard a conversation between a customer and employee. They were talking about how they only use cruelty free products and only support companies that have that overall mindset, no excuses! I quickly picked up on a flaw in their logic.

While the Body Shop itself may represent a brand that is cruelty free, as a whole the company that backs them does not. That company is oddly enough Nestle which also owns the controversial brand L’oreal.

The article is here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Why You Should Stop Using the Phrase ‘the Mentally Ill’

By Tanya Basu
New York Magazine
Originally published February 2, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

What’s most surprising is the reaction that counselors have when the phrase “the mentally ill” is used: They’re more likely to believe that those suffering from mental illness should be controlled and isolated from the rest of the community. That's pretty surprising, given that these counselors are perhaps the ones most likely to be aware of the special needs and varying differences in diagnoses of the group.

Counselors also showed the largest differences in how intolerant they were based on the language, which boosted the researchers’ belief that simply changing language is important in not only understanding people who suffer from mental illness but also helping them adjust and cope. “Even counselors who work every day with people who have mental illness can be affected by language,” Granello said in a press release. “They need to be aware of how language might influence their decision-making when they work with clients.”

The entire article is here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Men at Work

By Allison J. Pugh
Originally posted December 4, 2015

Here are two excerpts:

One option is to get angry. When I interviewed laid-off men for my recent book on job insecurity, their anger, or more often a wry bitterness, was impossible to forget. By and large, like Gary the laid-off tradesman, they were not angry at their employers. At home, however, they sounded a different note. ‘I have a very set opinion of relationships and how females handle them,’ Gary told me, rather flatly. ‘It’s what I’ve seen consistently throughout my life.’ On his third serious relationship, Gary talked about the ‘hurt that’s been caused to me by a lack of commitment on the part of other people’, and he complained that ‘marriage can be tossed out like a Pepsi can’. In the winds of uncertainty, Gary’s anger at women keeps him grounded.


Nonetheless, most working‑class men such as Gary are trapped by a changing economy and an intransigent masculinity. Faced with changes that reduce the options for less-educated men, they have essentially three choices, none of them very likely. They can pursue more education than their family background or their school success has prepared them for. They can find a low-wage job in a high-growth sector, positions that are often considered women’s work, such as a certified nurse practitioner or retail cashier. Or they can take on more of the domestic labour at home, enabling their partners to take on more work to provide for the household. These are ‘choices’ that either force them to be class pioneers or gender insurgents in their quest for a sustainable heroism; while both are laudable, we can hardly expect them of most men, and yet this is precisely the dilemma that faces men today.

The article is here.

Note from me: This article not about the standard issues in ethics. However, it does bring up the issue of competence. Do we, as psychologists, understand the culture of males in a changing economic system? And, is the changing economic picture a factor in the increase in white, male suicides?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Stigmatized Schizophrenia Gets a Rebrand

By Elizabeth Picciuto
The Daily Beast
Originally published March 26, 2015

Here are two excerpts:

The word “schizophrenia” was coined in the early 20th century, deriving from the Greek word for “split mind.” The term conveyed the idea that people with schizophrenia experienced a splitting of their personality—that they no longer had unified identities.

Considering all the words for mental illness, both those used by medical doctors and those that are cruel slurs used by the general public, it is striking how many of them have connotations of being broken or disorganized: deranged, crazy (which means cracked— itself a derogatory term), unglued, having a screw loose, unhinged, off the wall.


“The first lesson from the Japanese experience is that a change is possible and that the change may be beneficial for mental health users and their careers, for professionals and researchers alike,” said Lasalvia. “An early effect of renaming schizophrenia, as proven by the Japanese findings, would increase the percentage of patients informed about their diagnosis, prognosis, and available interventions. A name change would facilitate help seeking and service uptake by patients, and would be most beneficial for the provision of psychosocial interventions, since better informed patients generally display a more positive attitude towards care and a more active involvement in their own care programs.”

The entire article is here.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Moral Distress in Medical Education and Training

by Berger, Jeffrey T
Journal of General Internal Medicine, Volume 29, Issue 2
doi: 10.1007/s11606-013-2665-0


Moral distress is the experience of cognitive-emotional dissonance that arises when one feels compelled to act contrary to one’s moral requirements. Moral distress is common, but under-recognized in medical education and training, and this relative inattention may undermine educators’ efforts to promote empathy, ethical practice, and professionalism. Moral distress should be recognized as a feature of the clinical landscape, and addressed in conjunction with the related concerns of negative role modeling and the goals and efficacy of medical ethics curricula.


Moral distress is the cognitive-emotional dissonance that arises when one feels compelled to act against one’s moral requirements. Moral distress is common in clinical practice, because caring for the ill is an inherently moral activity. Medical students and junior practitioners may be particularly challenged by morally distressing situations. Their development into attending physicians involves a process that is complex intellectually, sociologically, and culturally, and is no less complex in its moral dimensions.


Academic health institutions whose leadership presupposes that moral distress affects all of its clinicians will be best positioned to mitigate this stress and to promote moral wellness and professionalism. Programs should expect that their trainees will experience moral distress and trainees should be aware of this expectation.

The entire article is here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Loving animals and eating meat: The Meat Paradox

By Brock Bastian
New Philosopher
Originally posted March 11, 2014

Here is an excerpt:

Of course consuming animals that are not considered food can create all kinds of squeamishness. Consider the recent horsemeat scandal. People created all kinds of reasons for their feeling of disgust at eating horsemeat, including health safety concerns, but of course horsemeat has been consumed safely for years.

I would argue that the issue was far more closely related to the fact that horses are seen as pets and not food. The idea of eating pets is indeed disgusting.

If people try to avoid the connection between meat and animals, what happens when they are forced to make this link? In other research we have shown that asking people to think about animals being killed for food leads them to attribute fewer mental qualities to that animal. Perhaps, however, this only happens for meat-eaters and not vegetarians, who on average attribute many more mental qualities to animals in the first place.

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Different Type of Barbie: Body Image

By Elizabeth Plank
Originally posted March 3, 2014

A few months ago, one of the most iconic toys in the world got a modern makeover so revolutionary that it went completely viral. If, like millions of others netizens, you loved the pictures of "Average Barbie" circulating across the web, you'll love what Nickolay Lamm, the designer of the creative project has in store next.

Motivated by a strong desire to show that "average is beautiful," Lamm has decided to make his designs come to life with a doll called "Lammily."

Lamm decided to take matters into his own hands after being bombarded with questions about where to buy a Barbie of normal size.

The entire story is here.

Thanks to Steve Ragusea for this article.