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 Nonconscious. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nonconscious. Show all posts

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Free will beliefs are better predicted by dualism than determinism beliefs across different cultures

Wisniewski D, Deutschl√§nder R, Haynes J-D 
(2019) PLoS ONE 14(9): e0221617. 
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0221617

Abstract

Most people believe in free will. Whether this belief is warranted or not, free will beliefs (FWB) are foundational for many legal systems and reducing FWB has effects on behavior from the motor to the social level. This raises the important question as to which specific FWB people hold. There are many different ways to conceptualize free will, and some might see physical determinism as a threat that might reduce FWB, while others might not. Here, we investigate lay FWB in a large, representative, replicated online survey study in the US and Singapore (n = 1800), assessing differences in FWB with unprecedented depth within and between cultures. Specifically, we assess the relation of FWB, as measured using the Free Will Inventory, to determinism, dualism and related concepts like libertarianism and compatibilism. We find that libertarian, compatibilist, and dualist, intuitions were related to FWB, but that these intuitions were often logically inconsistent. Importantly, direct comparisons suggest that dualism was more predictive of FWB than other intuitions. Thus, believing in free will goes hand-in-hand with a belief in a non-physical mind. Highlighting the importance of dualism for FWB impacts academic debates on free will, which currently largely focus on its relation to determinism. Our findings also shed light on how recent (neuro)scientific findings might impact FWB. Demonstrating physical determinism in the brain need not have a strong impact on FWB, due to a wide-spread belief in dualism.

Conclusion

We have shown that free will beliefs in the general public are most closely related to a strong belief in dualism. This was true in different cultures, age groups, and levels of education. As noted in the beginning, recent neuroscientific findings have been taken to suggest that our choices might originate from unconscious brain activity, but see, which has led some to predict an erosion of free will beliefs with potentially serious consequences for our sense of responsibility and even the criminal justice system. However, even if neuroscience were to fully describe and explain the causal chain of processes in the physical brain, this need not lead to an erosion of free will beliefs in the general public. Although some might indeed see this as a threat to free will (US citizens with low dualism beliefs), most will not likely because of a wide-spread belief in dualism (see also [21]). Our findings also highlight the need for cross-cultural examinations of free will beliefs and related constructs, as previous findings from (mostly undergraduate) US samples do not fully generalize to other cultures.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Dominant groups support digressive victimhood claims to counter accusations of discrimination

F. Danbold, et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume 98, January 2022, 104233

Abstract

When dominant groups are accused of discrimination against non-dominant groups, they often seek to portray themselves as the victims of discrimination instead. Sometimes, however, members of dominant groups counter accusations of discrimination by invoking victimhood on a new dimension of harm, changing the topic being discussed. Across three studies (N = 3081), we examine two examples of this digressive victimhood – Christian Americans responding to accusations of homophobia by claiming threatened religious liberty, and White Americans responding to accusations of racism by claiming threatened free speech. We show that members of dominant groups endorse digressive victimhood claims more strongly than conventional competitive victimhood claims (i.e., ones that claim “reverse discrimination”). Additionally, accounting for the fact that these claims may also stand to benefit a wider range of people and appeal to more abstract principles, we show that this preference is driven by the perception that digressive victimhood claims are more effective at silencing further criticism from the non-dominant group. Underscoring that these claims may be used strategically, we observed that individuals high in outgroup prejudice were willing to express a positive endorsement of the digressive victimhood claims even when they did not fully support the principle they claimed to be defending (e.g., freedom of religion or speech). We discuss implications for real-world intergroup conflicts and the psychology of dominant groups.

Highlights

• Charged with discrimination, dominant groups often claim victimhood.

• These claims can be digressive, shifting the topic of conversation.

• Members of dominant groups prefer digressive claims over competitive claims.

• They see digressive claims as effective in silencing further criticism.

• Digressive victimhood claims are endorsed strategically and sometimes insincerely.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

The Most Common Pain Relief Drug in The World Induces Risky Behavior, Study Finds

Peter Dockrill
sciencealert.com
Originally published 18 NOV 21

Acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol and sold widely under the brand names Tylenol and Panadol, also increases risk-taking, according to a study published in 2020 that measured changes in people's behavior when under the influence of the common over-the-counter medication.

"Acetaminophen seems to make people feel less negative emotion when they consider risky activities – they just don't feel as scared," neuroscientist Baldwin Way from The Ohio State University explained last year.

"With nearly 25 percent of the population in the US taking acetaminophen each week, reduced risk perceptions and increased risk-taking could have important effects on society."

The findings add to a recent body of research suggesting that acetaminophen's effects on pain reduction also extend to various psychological processes, lowering people's receptivity to hurt feelings, experiencing reduced empathy, and even blunting cognitive functions.

Similarly, Way's study suggests people's affective ability to perceive and evaluate risks can be impaired when they take acetaminophen. While the effects might be slight, they're definitely worth noting, given acetaminophen is the most common drug ingredient in America, found in over 600 different kinds of over-the-counter and prescription medicines.

(cut)

Overall, however, based on an average of results across the various tests, the team concludes that there is a significant relationship between taking acetaminophen and choosing more risk, even if the observed effect can be slight.

That said, they acknowledge the drug's apparent effects on risk-taking behavior could also be interpreted via other kinds of psychological processes, such as reduced anxiety, perhaps.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Free Will and Neuroscience: Decision Times and the Point of No Return

Alfred Mele
In Free Will, Causality, & Neuroscience
Chapter 4

Here are some excerpts:

Decisions to do things, as I conceive of them, are momentary actions of forming an intention to do them. For example, to decide to flex my right wrist now is to perform a (nonovert) action of forming an intention to flex it now (Mele 2003, ch. 9). I believe that Libet understands decisions in the same way. Some of our decisions and intentions are for the nonimmediate future and others are not. I have an intention today to fly to Brussels three days from now, and I have an intention now to click my “save” button now. The former intention is aimed at action three days in the future. The latter intention is about what to do now. I call intentions of these kinds, respectively, distal and proximal intentions (Mele 1992, pp. 143–44, 158, 2009, p. 10), and I make the same distinction in the sphere of decisions to act. Libet studies proximal intentions (or decisions or urges) in particular.

(cut)

Especially in the case of the study now under discussion, readers unfamiliar with Libet-style experiments may benefit from a short description of my own experience as a participant in such an experiment (see Mele 2009, pp. 34–36). I had just three things to do: watch a Libet clock with a view to keeping track of when I first became aware of something like a proximal urge, decision, or intention to flex; flex whenever I felt like it (many times over the course of the experiment); and report, after each flex, where I believed the hand was on the clock at the moment of first awareness. (I reported this belief by moving a cursor to a point on the clock. The clock was very fast; it made a complete revolution in about 2.5 seconds.) Because I did not experience any proximal urges, decisions, or intentions to flex, I hit on the strategy of saying “now!” silently to myself just before beginning to flex. This is the mental event that I tried to keep track of with the assistance of the clock. I thought of the “now!” as shorthand for the imperative “flex now!” – something that may be understood as an expression of a proximal decision to flex.

Why did I say “now!” exactly when I did? On any given trial, I had before me a string of equally good moments for a “now!” – saying, and I arbitrarily picked one of the moments. 3 But what led me to pick the moment I picked? The answer offered by Schurger et al. is that random noise crossed a decision threshold then. And they locate the time of the crossing very close to the onset of muscle activity – about 100 ms before it (pp. E2909, E2912). They write: “The reason we do not experience the urge to move as having happened earlier than about 200 ms before movement onset [referring to Libet’s partipants’ reported W time] is simply because, at that time, the neural decision to move (crossing the decision threshold) has not yet been made” (E2910). If they are right, this is very bad news for Libet. His claim is that, in his experiments, decisions are made well before the average reported W time: −200 ms. (In a Libet-style experiment conducted by Schurger et al., average reported W time is −150 ms [p. E2905].) As I noted, if relevant proximal decisions are not made before W, Libet’s argument for the claim that they are made unconsciously fails.