front cover of Abducted
How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens
Susan A. Clancy
Harvard University Press, 2007

They are tiny. They are tall. They are gray. They are green. They survey our world with enormous glowing eyes. To conduct their shocking experiments, they creep in at night to carry humans off to their spaceships. Yet there is no evidence that they exist at all. So how could anyone believe he or she was abducted by aliens? Or want to believe it?

To answer these questions, psychologist Susan Clancy interviewed and evaluated "abductees"--old and young, male and female, religious and agnostic. She listened closely to their stories--how they struggled to explain something strange in their remembered experience, how abduction seemed plausible, and how, having suspected abduction, they began to recollect it, aided by suggestion and hypnosis.

Clancy argues that abductees are sane and intelligent people who have unwittingly created vivid false memories from a toxic mix of nightmares, culturally available texts (abduction reports began only after stories of extraterrestrials appeared in films and on TV), and a powerful drive for meaning that science is unable to satisfy. For them, otherworldly terror can become a transforming, even inspiring experience. "Being abducted," writes Clancy, "may be a baptism in the new religion of this millennium." This book is not only a subtle exploration of the workings of memory, but a sensitive inquiry into the nature of belief.


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Achievement-Related Motives in Children
Charles P. Smith
Russell Sage Foundation, 1969
Examines the conditions under which motives to achieve are fostered in children. The papers included in this volume reflect the major traditions of research in the field and bring together a set of studies for achieving a better understanding of the ways in which achievement-related personality characteristics develop and function in evaluative or competitive situations.

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The Affect Effect
Dynamics of Emotion in Political Thinking and Behavior
Edited by W. Russell Neuman, George E. Marcus, Michael MacKuen, and Ann N. Crigler
University of Chicago Press, 2007
Passion and emotion run deep in politics, but researchers have only recently begun to study how they influence our political thinking. Contending that the long-standing neglect of such feelings has left unfortunate gaps in our understanding of political behavior, The Affect Effect fills the void by providing a comprehensive overview of current research on emotion in politics and where it is likely to lead.

In sixteen seamlessly integrated essays, thirty top scholars approach this topic from a broad array of angles that address four major themes. The first section outlines the philosophical and neuroscientific foundations of emotion in politics, while the second focuses on how emotions function within and among individuals. The final two sections branch out to explore how politics work at the societal level and suggest the next steps in modeling, research, and political activity itself. Opening up new paths of inquiry in an exciting new field, this volume will appeal not only to scholars of American politics and political behavior, but also to anyone interested in political psychology and sociology.

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Affective Ecologies
Empathy, Emotion, and Environmental Narrative
Alexa Weik von Mossner
The Ohio State University Press, 2017
Affective Ecologies: EmpathyEmotion, and Environmental Narrative explores our emotional engagement with environmental narrative. Focusing on the American cultural context, Alexa Weik von Mossner develops an ecocritical approach that draws on the insights of affective science and cognitive narratology. This approach helps to clarify how we interact with environmental narratives in ways that are both biologically universal and culturally specific. In doing so, it pays particular attention to the thesis that our minds are both embodied (in a physical body) and embedded (in a physical environment), not only when we interact with the real world but also in our engagement with imaginary worlds.
How do we experience the virtual environments we encounter in literature and film on the sensory and emotional level? How do environmental narratives invite us to care for human and nonhuman others who are put at risk? And how do we feel about the speculative futures presented to us in ecotopian and ecodystopian texts? Weik von Mossner explores these central questions that are important to anyone with an interest in the emotional appeal and persuasive power of environmental narratives.

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The Alex Studies
Cognitive and Communicative Abilities of Grey Parrots
Irene Maxine Pepperberg
Harvard University Press, 2000

Can a parrot understand complex concepts and mean what it says? Since the early 1900s, most studies on animal-human communication have focused on great apes and a few cetacean species. Birds were rarely used in similar studies on the grounds that they were merely talented mimics--that they were, after all, "birdbrains." Experiments performed primarily on pigeons in Skinner boxes demonstrated capacities inferior to those of mammals; these results were thought to reflect the capacities of all birds, despite evidence suggesting that species such as jays, crows, and parrots might be capable of more impressive cognitive feats.

Twenty years ago Irene Pepperberg set out to discover whether the results of the pigeon studies necessarily meant that other birds--particularly the large-brained, highly social parrots--were incapable of mastering complex cognitive concepts and the rudiments of referential speech. Her investigation and the bird at its center--a male Grey parrot named Alex--have since become almost as well known as their primate equivalents and no less a subject of fierce debate in the field of animal cognition. This book represents the long-awaited synthesis of the studies constituting one of the landmark experiments in modern comparative psychology.


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American Beliefs About Intelligence
Orville G., Jr. Brim
Russell Sage Foundation, 1969
Based on two national surveys--one of adults and one of secondary school students, this volume reports on their experiences with and their attitudes toward standardized tests of intelligence. The authors analyze the relations between a person's beliefs about the nature of intelligence, his estimate of his own intelligence, his attitudes concerning tests, and other personal characteristics.

front cover of Anatomy of a Train Wreck
Anatomy of a Train Wreck
The Rise and Fall of Priming Research
Ruth Leys
University of Chicago Press
A history of “priming” research that analyzes the field’s underlying assumptions and experimental protocols to shed new light on a contemporary crisis in social psychology.
In 2012, a team of Belgian scientists reported that they had been unable to replicate a canonical experiment in the field of psychology known as “priming.” The original experiment, performed by John Bargh in the nineties, purported to show that words connoting old age unconsciously influenced—or primed—research subjects, causing them to walk more slowly. When researchers could not replicate these results, Nobel-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman warned of “a train wreck looming” if Bargh and his colleagues could not address doubts about their work. Since then, the inability to replicate other well-known priming experiments has helped precipitate an ongoing debate over what has gone wrong in psychology, raising fundamental questions about the soundness of research practices in the field.
Anatomy of a Train Wreck offers the first detailed history of priming research from its origins in the early 1980s to its recent collapse. Ruth Leys places priming experiments in the context of contemporaneous debates not only over the nature of automaticity but also the very foundations of social psychology. While these latest discussions about priming have largely focused on methodology—including sloppy experimental practices, inadequate statistical methods, and publication bias—Leys offers a genealogy of the theoretical expectations and scientific paradigms that have guided and motivated priming research itself. Examining the intellectual strategies of scientists, their responses to criticism, and their assumptions about the nature of subjectivity, Anatomy of a Train Wreck raises crucial questions about the evidence surrounding unconscious influence and probes the larger stakes of the replication crisis: psychology’s status as a science.   

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Animal Cognition
An Introduction to Modern Comparative Psychology
Jacques Vauclair
Harvard University Press, 1996

Animal Cognition presents a clear, concise, and comprehensive overview of what we know about cognitive processes in animals. Focusing mainly on what has been learned from experimental research, Vauclair presents a wide-ranging review of studies of many kinds of animals--bees and wasps, cats and dogs, dolphins and sea otters, pigeons and titmice, baboons, chimpanzees, vervet monkeys, and Japanese macaques. He also offers a novel discussion of the ways Piaget's theory of cognitive development and Piagetian concepts may be used to develop models for the study of animal cognition.

Individual chapters review the current state of our knowledge about specific kinds of cognition in animals: tool use and spatial and temporal representations; social cognition--how animals manage their relational life and the cognitive organization that sustains social behaviors; representation, communication, and language; and imitation, self-recognition, and the theory of mind--what animals know about themselves. The book closes with Vauclair's "agenda for comparative cognition." Here he examines the relationship of the experimental approach to other fields and methods of inquiry, such as cognitive ethology and the ecological approach to species comparisons. It is here, too, that Vauclair addresses the key issue of continuity, or its absence, between animal and human cognition.

Given our still limited knowledge of cognitive systems in animals, Vauclair argues, researchers should be less concerned with the "why" question--the evolutionary or ecological explanations for differences in cognition between the species--and more concerned with the "what"--the careful work that is needed to increase our understanding of similarities and differences in cognitive processes. This thoughtful and lively book will be of great value to students of animal behavior and to anyone who desires a better understanding of humankind's relations to other living creatures.


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Animal Minds
Beyond Cognition to Consciousness
Donald R. Griffin
University of Chicago Press, 2001
In Animal Minds, Donald R. Griffin takes us on a guided tour of the recent explosion of scientific research on animal mentality. Are animals consciously aware of anything, or are they merely living machines, incapable of conscious thoughts or emotional feelings? How can we tell? Such questions have long fascinated Griffin, who has been a pioneer at the forefront of research in animal cognition for decades, and is recognized as one of the leading behavioral ecologists of the twentieth century.

With this new edition of his classic book, which he has completely revised and updated, Griffin moves beyond considerations of animal cognition to argue that scientists can and should investigate questions of animal consciousness. Using examples from studies of species ranging from chimpanzees and dolphins to birds and honeybees, he demonstrates how communication among animals can serve as a "window" into what animals think and feel, just as human speech and nonverbal communication tell us most of what we know about the thoughts and feelings of other people. Even when they don't communicate about it, animals respond with sometimes surprising versatility to new situations for which neither their genes nor their previous experiences have prepared them, and Griffin discusses what these behaviors can tell us about animal minds. He also reviews the latest research in cognitive neuroscience, which has revealed startling similarities in the neural mechanisms underlying brain functioning in both humans and other animals. Finally, in four chapters greatly expanded for this edition, Griffin considers the latest scientific research on animal consciousness, pro and con, and explores its profound philosophical and ethical implications.

front cover of Apes, Monkeys, Children, and the Growth of Mind
Apes, Monkeys, Children, and the Growth of Mind
Juan Carlos Gomez
Harvard University Press, 2006

What can the study of young monkeys and apes tell us about the minds of young humans? In this fascinating introduction to the study of primate minds, Juan Carlos Gómez identifies evolutionary resemblances—and differences—between human children and other primates. He argues that primate minds are best understood not as fixed collections of specialized cognitive capacities, but more dynamically, as a range of abilities that can surpass their original adaptations.

In a lively overview of a distinguished body of cognitive developmental research among nonhuman primates, Gómez looks at knowledge of the physical world, causal reasoning (including the chimpanzee-like errors that human children make), and the contentious subjects of ape language, theory of mind, and imitation. Attempts to teach language to chimpanzees, as well as studies of the quality of some primate vocal communication in the wild, make a powerful case that primates have a natural capacity for relatively sophisticated communication, and considerable power to learn when humans teach them.

Gómez concludes that for all cognitive psychology’s interest in perception, information processing, and reasoning, some essential functions of mental life are based on ideas that cannot be explicitly articulated. Nonhuman and human primates alike rely on implicit knowledge. Studying nonhuman primates helps us to understand this perplexing aspect of all primate minds.


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The Art of Memory
Frances A. Yates
University of Chicago Press, 1974
One of Modern Library's 100 Best Nonfiction Books of the Twentieth Century

In this classic study of how people learned to retain vast stores of knowledge before the invention of the printed page, Frances A. Yates traces the art of memory from its treatment by Greek orators, through its Gothic transformations in the Middle Ages, to the occult forms it took in the Renaissance, and finally to its use in the seventeenth century. This book, the first to relate the art of memory to the history of culture as a whole, was revolutionary when it first appeared and continues to mesmerize readers with its lucid and revelatory insights.

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Beyond Mindfulness
Gay Watson
Reaktion Books, 2024
A suitably engrossing investigation of attention through many disciplines and ways of life, from neuroscience to surfing.

If there is one thing we are short on these days, it’s attention. Attention is central to everything we do and think, yet it is mostly an intangible force, an invisible thing that connects us as subjects with the world around us. We pay attention to this or that, let our attention wander—we even stand at attention from time to time—yet rarely do we attend to attention itself. In this book, Gay Watson does just that, musing on attention as one of our most human impulses.
As Watson shows, the way we think about attention is usually through its instrumentality, by what can be achieved if we give something enough of it—say, a crisply written report, a newly built bookcase, or even a satisfied child who has yearned for engagement. Yet in losing ourselves to the objects of our fixation, we often neglect the process of attention itself. Exploring everything from attention’s effects on our neurons to attention deficit disorder, from the mindfulness movement to the relationship between attention and creativity, Watson examines attention in action through many disciplines and ways of life. Along the way, she offers interviews with an astonishing cast of creative people—from composers to poets to artists to psychologists—including John Luther Adams, Stephen Batchelor, Sue Blackmore, Guy Claxton, Edmund de Waal, Rick Hanson, Jane Hirshfield, Wayne Macgregor, Iain McGilchrist, Garry Fabian Miller, Alice and Peter Oswald, Ruth Ozeki, and James Turrell.
A valuable and timely account of something central to our lives yet all too often neglected, this book will appeal to anyone who has felt their attention under threat in the clamors of modern life.

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