How do we thrive in our behaviors and experiences? Positive neuroscience research illuminates the brain mechanisms that enable human flourishing. Supported by the John Templeton Foundation's Positive Neuroscience Project, which Martin E. P. Seligman established in 2008, Positive Neuroscience provides an intersection between neuroscience and positive psychology.In this edited volume, leading researchers describe the neuroscience of social bonding, altruism, and the capacities for resilience and creativity. Part I describes the mechanisms that enable humans to connect with one another. Part II (...) focuses on the neural mechanisms underlying the human ability and willingness to confer costly benefits on others. Part III examines the mechanisms by which human brains overcome adversity, create, and discover. Specific topics include: a newly discovered nerve type that appears to be specialized for emotional communication; the effects of parenting on the male brain; how human altruism differs from that of other primates; the neural features of extraordinary altruists who have donated kidneys to strangers; and distinctive patterns of brain wiring that endow some people with exceptional musical abilities. Accessible to a broad academic audience, from advanced undergraduates to senior scholars, these subjects have generated a fascinating and highly convergent set of ideas and results, shaping our understanding of human nature. (shrink)
Four studies tested the hypothesis that a weaker belief in free will would be related to feeling less gratitude. In Studies 1a and 1b, a trait measure of free will belief was positively correlated with a measure of dispositional gratitude. In Study 2, participants whose free will belief was weakened (vs. unchanged or bolstered) reported feeling less grateful for events in their past. Study 3 used a laboratory induction of gratitude. Participants with an experimentally reduced (vs. increased) belief in free (...) will reported feeling less grateful for the favor. In Study 4, a reduced (vs. increased) belief in free will led to less gratitude in a hypothetical favor scenario. This effect was serially mediated by perceiving the benefactor as having less free will and therefore as being less sincerely motivated. These findings suggest that belief in free will is an important part of being able to feel gratitude. (shrink)
Thought uses meaning but not necessarily language. Meaning, in the form of a set of possible concepts and ideas, is a nonphysical reality that lay waiting for brains to become smart enough to represent these ideas. Thus, the brain evolved, whereas meaning was discovered, and language was invented – collectively – as a tool to help the brain use meaning.
Do philosophic views affect job performance? The authors found that possessing a belief in free will predicted better career attitudes and actual job performance. The effect of free will beliefs on job performance indicators were over and above well-established predictors such as conscientiousness, locus of control, and Protestant work ethic. In Study 1, stronger belief in free will corresponded to more positive attitudes about expected career success. In Study 2, job performance was evaluated objectively and independently by a supervisor. Results (...) indicated that employees who espoused free will beliefs were given better work performance evaluations than those who disbelieve in free will, presumably because belief in free will facilitates exerting control over one’s actions. (shrink)
Tomasello argues that humans’ sense of moral obligation emerges early in development, relies on a shared “we,” and serves as the foundation of cooperation. This perspective complements our theoretical view of the human self as information agent. The shared “we” promotes not only proximal cooperative goals but also distal ones via the construction of shared understanding – it promotes culture.