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Does stress reduce empathy?

Jeremy Adam Smith, web editor & producer, Greater Good Science Center | August 18, 2015

On Monday, the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center published a research brief, “How Anxiety Reduces Empathy,” that provoked some conversation and disagreement among readers. “I thought empathy increases stress and anxiety,” wrote one person — especially, she believed, if we empathize with people in a bad situation that we don’t have the power to … Continue reading »

Racism is not a mental illness

Jeremy Adam Smith, web editor & producer, Greater Good Science Center | June 20, 2015

On Wednesday, a young white man named Dylann Roof killed nine black people at prayer in South Carolina. Some have called it racism. Others say it was a crazy, isolated act. “He was one of these whacked out kids,” said Senator Lindsey Graham. “I don’t think it’s anything broader than that.” Does Graham have a … Continue reading »

Happy International Day of Happiness!

Jeremy Adam Smith, web editor & producer, Greater Good Science Center | March 20, 2015

Today is the International Day of Happiness, launched last year by the United Nations to promote subjective well-being as a legitimate goal of public policy and social progress. That’s a goal we share at the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center, and through the years we’ve covered happiness research from every conceivable angle. Here are … Continue reading »

Thanksgiving Greatest Hits

Jeremy Adam Smith, web editor & producer, Greater Good Science Center | November 26, 2014

Three years ago, the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center launched the Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude program, which supported 29 research projects and yielded dozens of articles and videos on the science of gratitude. As Thanksgiving 2014 approaches, we thought we’d take the time to highlight some of the best and most … Continue reading »

Is your marriage losing its luster?

Christine Carter, director, Greater Good Parents | February 13, 2014

One of the greatest things about our long-term romantic relationships is that they can provide comfort and predictability in this wild world we live in. But let’s face it: Long-term relationships can get a little boring. Within nine to eighteen months, research suggests, 87 percent of couples lose that knee-quaking excitement they felt when they … Continue reading »

The top 10 insights from the “science of a meaningful life” in 2013

Jeremy Adam Smith, web editor & producer, Greater Good Science Center | January 7, 2014

The past few years have been marked by two major trends in the science of a meaningful life. One is that researchers continued to add sophistication and depth to our understanding of positive feelings and behaviors. Happiness is good for you, but not all the time; empathy ties us together, and can overwhelm you; humans … Continue reading »

Eight inspiring images from 2013

Jeremy Adam Smith, web editor & producer, Greater Good Science Center | December 30, 2013

Many terrible things happened in 2013. But concealed within each awful event was at least some kernel of courage or grace. This past year especially provided us with many models of heroism. From the helpers of the Boston Marathon bombing to activists standing up for human rights in Bulgaria and Pakistan, 2013 gave us countless … Continue reading »

Influencing teens and tweeners, part 2

Christine Carter, director, Greater Good Parents | March 25, 2013

In my last post, I introduced the idea of “motivational interviewing,” a way to engage with adolescents to make them feel heard, understood, and, ultimately, receptive to our wisdom. This technique, which has been proven effective in clinical psychology, is particularly useful when we want to influence our teens or tweeners to change their behavior. … Continue reading »

Love: What’s the point?

Jeremy Adam Smith, web editor & producer, Greater Good Science Center | February 14, 2013

“Valentine’s Day is a commercial sham!” said one friend. “Valentine’s Day propaganda is everywhere!” said another. “Heterosexist!” cried a commentator on our Facebook page. Lots of people hate Valentine’s Day. For some very good reasons: It is commercial; it is heterosexist; it does make involuntary singles weep into their beers. But we at the UC … Continue reading »

How grateful are Americans?

Jeremy Adam Smith, web editor & producer, Greater Good Science Center | January 11, 2013

Americans are very grateful and they think gratitude is important—they’re just not very good at expressing it. That’s one of the conclusions from a national survey on gratitude commissioned by the John Templeton Foundation, which also funds the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center’s gratitude project. We’ve stressed the importance of gratitude for years, as … Continue reading »

The past year’s top 10 scientific insights about living a meaningful life

Jeremy Adam Smith, web editor & producer, Greater Good Science Center | January 3, 2013

The science we cover on the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center website — aka, “the science of a meaningful life” — has exploded over the past 10 years, with many more studies published each year on gratitude, mindfulness, and our other core themes than we saw a decade ago. 2012 was no exception. In … Continue reading »

Our children, our strangers: A conversation with Andrew Solomon

Jeremy Adam Smith, web editor & producer, Greater Good Science Center | December 3, 2012

All parents love their children, or so we believe. Parents who reject their children seem unnatural, morally reprehensible. Yet there is a gray area in between total parental rejection and the absolute, all-consuming love that we consider normal. In that gray area there are the children whom parents must struggle to love. They are children … Continue reading »

What we Google when we Google ‘love’

Jeremy Adam Smith, web editor & producer, Greater Good Science Center | June 20, 2012

Internet searches are a fascinating window into human nature and social trends. By analyzing Google searches, researchers have uncovered racial bias in elections and our most intimate sexual desires, as well as many, many consumer trends. But recently, I discovered another kind of search trend: rising interest in “pro-social” emotions and behaviors like love, empathy, … Continue reading »

Five lessons in human goodness from ‘The Hunger Games’

Jeremy Adam Smith, web editor & producer, Greater Good Science Center | April 25, 2012

In the dystopian future world of The Hunger Games, 24 teenagers are forced to fight to the death, their battle turned into televised entertainment. This war-of-all-against-all scenario sounds as though it might reveal the worst in humanity—and to a degree, that’s true. But what raises The Hunger Games above similar stories, like the cynical Japanese … Continue reading »