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The best Greater Good articles of 2015

Jeremy Adam Smith, Editor, Greater Good Magazine | January 4, 2016

For UC Berkeley’s Greater Good, nuance and controversy defined 2015. Over the course of the year, the online magazine of the Greater Good Science Center grappled with big public issues like terrorism, racism, and what schools should teach. We tackled “inside baseball” questions about the validity of psychological research and the best ways to measure … Continue reading »

Does stress reduce empathy?

Jeremy Adam Smith, Editor, Greater Good Magazine | 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 »

Happy International Day of Happiness!

Jeremy Adam Smith, Editor, Greater Good Magazine | 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 »

The Top 10 Insights from the “Science of a Meaningful Life” in 2014

Jeremy Adam Smith, Editor, Greater Good Magazine | January 3, 2015

It’s time once again for our favorite year-end ritual here at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center: Our annual list of the top scientific insights produced by the study of happiness, altruism, mindfulness, gratitude–what we call “the science of a meaningful life.” We found that this year, the science of a meaningful life yielded many … Continue reading »

Are we more self-absorbed than previous generations, or just more self-aware?

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | June 26, 2014

For several years some psychologists have been arguing that Americans (especially American youth) of the modern era are more self-absorbed and self-interested than were Americans of an earlier era. (“Earlier” can mean pre-21st century, or pre-1960s, or pre-20th century, or whenever.) Much of the evidence they offer – heavily debated – come from compilations of … Continue reading »

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

Jeremy Adam Smith, Editor, Greater Good Magazine | 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 »

Five reasons why we need Halloween

Jeremy Adam Smith, Editor, Greater Good Magazine | October 31, 2013

BOO! Did I scare you? No? Let’s try this: Scientists currently predict global sea levels could rise up to 1.5 meters by 2100, a process that could drown cities and trigger widespread human famine and wildlife extinction. Scared? You should be—and hopefully that little stab of fear and dread compels you to make some lifestyle … Continue reading »

Beyond cuddling: Five surprising ways Oxytocin shapes your social life

Jeremy Adam Smith, Editor, Greater Good Magazine | October 18, 2013

It’s been called the cuddle hormone, the holiday hormone, the moral molecule, and more—but new research suggests that oxytocin needs some new nicknames. Like maybe the conformity hormone, or perhaps the America-Number-One! molecule. Where does this many-monikered neuropeptide come from? Scientists first found it in mothers, whose bodies flood with oxytocin during childbirth and breastfeeding—which … Continue reading »

Fear of a Black President?

Brad DeLong, Brad DeLong | August 30, 2013

A few thoughts provoked by reading Mann and Ornstein this morning… Barack Obama has, after all, been pursuing Bill Clinton’s gun-control policy, Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy, John McCain’s climate policy, Mitt Romney’s health-care policy, George W. Bush’s immigration policy, the bipartisan Squam Lake Group’s financial-regulatory policy, Bill Clinton’s tax policy, George H.W. Bush’s spending policy, … Continue reading »

Can patriotism be compassionate?

Jeremy Adam Smith, Editor, Greater Good Magazine | July 2, 2013

Feeling ambivalent about the Fourth of July? You’re not alone. “I don’t mean love, when I say patriotism,” writes Ursula K. Le Guin in her classic 1969 novel The Left Hand of Darkness. “I mean fear. The fear of the other. And its expressions are political, not poetical: hate, rivalry, aggression.” In some corners, patriotism … Continue reading »

Psychologically damaged

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | May 28, 2013

We often see people on the streets who appear seriously mentally ill – arguing with the voices in their heads, yelling at all who pass by, unable to keep themselves clean. Especially with “deinstitutionalization,” the closing down of psychiatric hospitals about 50 years ago, the psychologically damaged seem everywhere. Their presence suggests that rates of acute mental … Continue reading »

The case for cultivating gratitude at work

Jeremy Adam Smith, Editor, Greater Good Magazine | May 20, 2013

Why should anyone thank you for just doing your job? And why should you ever thank your coworkers for doing what they’re paid to do? These are common questions in American workplaces, often posed rhetorically—and sometimes with hostility. Elsewhere in American life, we say “thank you” to acknowledge the good things we get from other … Continue reading »

Five life lessons from “56 Up”

Jeremy Adam Smith, Editor, Greater Good Magazine | March 12, 2013

The film critic Roger Ebert famously called the “Up” series “an inspired, even noble, use of the film medium.” It started in 1964, when the British TV program World in Action profiled 14 seven year olds with the aim of discovering how social class shaped their worldviews. There was no intention of going beyond that … Continue reading »

The Great Recession and preferences for redistribution

Carola Conces Binder, Ph.D. candidate, economics | March 4, 2013

Differences in attitudes towards welfare and redistribution are an important source of political tension, especially during recessions. What factors shape people’s attitudes towards welfare and redistribution? There are two main strands of thought on this question in the literature. One strand emphasizes economic self-interest as a key determinant of attitudes toward welfare and distribution. According … Continue reading »

How grateful are Americans?

Jeremy Adam Smith, Editor, Greater Good Magazine | 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 »

Four reminders of human strength and goodness after Sandy Hook

Jeremy Adam Smith, Editor, Greater Good Magazine | December 18, 2012

I first heard about the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Twitter. In the flood of reactions, one stood out to me. “The children were killed execution style,” tweeted one woman. “People are horrible.” Are people horrible? It’s a question we as a culture pose after every war and atrocity; it’s a question we … Continue reading »

We’re more partisan than ever. Now what?

Jeremy Adam Smith, Editor, Greater Good Magazine | November 7, 2012

This morning my colleague at the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center, Jason Marsh, talked with Righteous Mind author Jonathan Haidt about how psychological differences between liberals and conservatives fueled this election’s partisan divide — and what we can do to overcome it. Here is an excerpt; you may also wish to read the entire … Continue reading »