Snog, marry, avoid? by Mairi Mcleod.

Men like younger women, women like richer men, right? Yes, but the picture is more nuanced than that. This New Scientist article unpicks some recent research into the details of sexual attraction.

“Women who are grossed out by blood and faeces prefer more masculine faces.”

“As the gender pay gap decreases in the West, attitudes to promiscuity are relaxing.”

New Scientist, No. 3008, 14th February 2015, p.42-45.


We Could be Heroes by Michael Bond

This article in the New Scientist asks what makes people risk their own well-being to help strangers. This altruism is often dramatic and impulsive. Why?

“It took Michael McNally about 10 seconds from hearing the crash to run from his house in the Cape Cod village of Marstons Mills to the road outside. When he got there, the car was already burning… He looked inside and saw a young woman in the passenger seat… if she stayed there another minute she would die.”

New Scientist No. 3005, 24th January 2015, p36-39.

The Lucifer Effect: How Good People Turn Evil, by Philip Zimbardo

lucifer“The ‘Lucifer Effect’ describes the point in time when an ordinary, normal person first crosses the boundary between good and evil to engage in an evil action.”

Zimbardo is mainly (in)famous for the Stanford Prison Experiment. This book goes further, and explains how ordinary people are capable of evil acts. Zimbardo gave evidence at the trial of the Abu Ghraib torturers; this book explains his thinking on one of the most important psychological issues that there is.

“I summarize more than 30 years of research on factors that can create a “perfect storm” which leads good people to engage in evil actions. This transformation of human character is what I call the “Lucifer Effect,” named after God’s favorite angel, Lucifer, who fell from graceand ultimately became Satan.┬áRather than providing a religious analysis, however, I offer a psychological account of how ordinary people sometimes turn evil and commit unspeakable acts.”