Wednesday, August 17, 2011

La felicidad colectiva - La necesidad que se le escapo a Maslow

Un nuevo estudio mediante encuesta a cientos de miles de personas en 123 paises revela cuales son las necesidades universales de los humanos. Entre los hallazgos principales se encuentra que la necesidad a nivela de sociedad es fundamental parea la felicidad individual.  Es beneficioso vivir en una sociedad con otras persons que tienen sus necesidades cubiertas.  El mejorar individualmente en una sociedad no es suficiente.
Maslow 2.0: A new and Improved Recipe for Happines
by Hans Villarica
August 17, 2011
The Atlancic

What are the ingredients for happiness? It's a question that has been addressed time and again, and now a study based on the first-ever globally representative poll on well-being has some answers about whether or not a pioneering theory is actually correct.

The theory in question is the psychologist Abraham Maslow's "hierarchy of needs," a staple of Psychology 101 courses that was famously articulated in 1954. It breaks down the path to happiness in an easy-to-digest list: Earthly needs, such as food and safety, are considered essential, since they act as the groundwork that makes it possible to pursue loftier desires, such as love, respect, and self-actualization (the realization of one's full potential).

The problem is, Maslow's theory remained a theory. Though it gained popularity, scientific psychologists largely ignored it. "They thought the needs were too inborn and universal," says Ed Diener, the author of Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth, "and that the idea of self-actualization was too fuzzy. They started to believe everything is learned and due to socialization."

To find proof that Maslow's theory translated into real life, Diener, a University of Illinois psychologist and senior scientist for the Gallup Organization, helped design the Gallup World Poll, a landmark survey on well-being with 60,865 participants from 123 countries that was conducted from 2005 to 2010. Respondents answered questions about six needs that closely resemble those in Maslow's model: basic needs (food, shelter); safety; social needs (love, support); respect; mastery; and autonomy. They also rated their well-being across three discrete measures: life evaluation (a person's view of his or her life as a whole), positive feelings (day-to-day instances of joy or pleasure), and negative feelings (everyday experiences of sorrow, anger, or stress). Finally, Diener analyzed the poll data with fellow University of Illinois psychology professor Louis Tay for a study in the current edition of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

The results are mixed. Maslow rightly saw that there are human needs that apply regardless of culture, but his ordering of these needs was not right on target. "Although the most basic needs might get the most attention when you don't have them," Diener explains, "you don't need to fulfill them in order to get benefits [from the others]." Even when we are hungry, for instance, we can be happy with our friends. "They're like vitamins," Diener says on how the needs work independently. "We need them all."

The study's methodical investigation of both day-to-day positive and negative feelings and overall life evaluation uncovered novel nuances as well. As it turns out, the needs that are most linked with everyday satisfaction are interpersonal ones, such as love and respect. Our troubles, conversely, relate most to lack of esteem, lack of freedom, and lack of nourishment. Only when we look back on the quality of our lives thus far do basic needs become significant indicators for well-being. 

For Diener, the implications for public policymakers are clear. Since each of Maslow's needs correlates with certain components of happiness, he says, "all the needs are important all the time. Our leaders need to think about them from the outset, otherwise they will have no reason to address social and community needs until food and shelter are available to all."

University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Martin Seligman, who says the study might be a breakthrough, adds: "Governments should take these measures seriously and hold themselves accountable for public policy changes for the well-being of their citizens." Focus away from monetary measures should be considered, especially in light of Diener and Tay's finding that income has little impact on day-to-day happiness and is significant for well-being only in so far as it allows for basic needs to be met. Seligman argues in his book Flourish:

.[G]ross domestic product should no longer be the only serious index of how well a nation is doing. It is not just the alarming divergence between quality of life and GDP that warrants this conclusion. Policy itself follows from what is measured, and if all that is measured is money, all policy will be about getting more money.

Perhaps, as Seligman suggests, governments could take their cue from Bhutan, a nation that consistently ranks high in "gross national happiness," if not GDP. University of British Columbia economist John Helliwell points to the recent riots in London, where social connections had ostensibly frayed, to illustrate the dangers of an unhappy citizenry. Such anti-social acts, he says, should prompt world leaders to adopt the recently passed U.N. resolution to make happiness a primary goal for global development and to consider Diener's model. "It shows clearly the importance in all societies of human connections and social supports, something that's been ignored in recent years," he says.

Indeed, Maslow's theory has led psychologists to focus on the self over the social for decades, what with self-actualization as the height of human motivation. Diener and Tay's revised model, however, aims to strike a balance between the pursuit of happiness as the end goal and the fulfillment of both personal and social goals to get there. "Maslow got right that there are universal human needs beyond the physiological needs that everyone recognizes," Diener says. "But it turns out people are inherently social. We are called the social animal now."

Monday, August 15, 2011

La confianza, la colaboracion y la evolucion de la generosidad

Segun este estudio sobre psicologia evolutiva, colaborar es uno de los principales factores para el exito de nuestra especie.  Lo que me interesa principalmente es el uso de los juegos de simulacion para validar que si colaboramos tendremos exito como humanos.  Pero, ¿en verdad hace falta este estudio para probar esto....? De todas maneras creo que los hallazgos del estudio son relevantes.

The Evolution of Generosity
The Economist
July 30, 2011

The extraordinary success of Homo sapiens is a result of four things: intelligence, language, an ability to manipulate objects dexterously in order to make tools, and co-operation. Over the decades the anthropological spotlight has shifted from one to another of these as the prime mover of the package, and thus the fundament of the human condition. At the moment co-operation is the most fashionable subject of investigation. In particular, why are humans so willing to collaborate with unrelated strangers, even to the point of risking being cheated by people whose characters they cannot possibly know?

Evidence from economic games played in the laboratory for real money suggests humans are both trusting of those they have no reason to expect they will ever see again, and surprisingly unwilling to cheat them—and that these phenomena are deeply ingrained in the species’s psychology. Existing theories of the evolution of trust depend either on the participants being relatives (and thus sharing genes) or on their relationship being long-term, with each keeping count to make sure the overall benefits of collaboration exceed the costs. Neither applies in the case of passing strangers, and that has led to speculation that something extraordinary, such as a need for extreme collaboration prompted by the emergence of warfare that uses weapons, has happened in recent human evolution to promote the emergence of an instinct for unconditional generosity.

Leda Cosmides and John Tooby, two doyens of the field, who work at the University of California, Santa Barbara, do not agree. They see no need for extraordinary mechanisms and the latest study to come from their group (the actual work was done by Andrew Delton and Max Krasnow, who have just published the results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) suggests they are right. It also shows the value of applying common sense to psychological analyses—but then of backing that common sense with some solid mathematical modelling.

Be seeing you

Studying human evolution directly is obviously impossible. The generation times are far too long. But it is possible to isolate features of interest and examine how they evolve in computer simulations. To this end Dr Delton and Dr Krasnow designed software agents that were able to meet up and interact in a computer’s processor.

The agents’ interactions mimicked those of economic games in the real world, though the currency was arbitrary “fitness units” rather than dollars. This meant that agents which successfully collaborated built up fitness over the period of their collaboration. Those that cheated on the first encounter got a one-off allocation of fitness, but would never be trusted in the future. Each agent had an inbuilt and heritable level of trustworthiness (ie, the likelihood that it would cheat at the first opportunity) and, in each encounter it had, it was assigned a level of likelihood (detectable by the other agent) that it would be back for further interactions.
After a certain amount of time the agents reproduced in proportion to their accumulated fitness; the old generation died, and the young took over. The process was then repeated for 10,000 generations (equivalent to about 200,000 years of human history, or the entire period for which Homo sapiens has existed), to see what level of collaboration would emerge.

The upshot was that, as the researchers predicted, generosity pays—or, rather, the cost of early selfishness is greater than the cost of trust. This is because the likelihood that an encounter will be one-off, and thus worth cheating on, is just that: a likelihood, rather than a certainty. This fact was reflected in the way the likelihood values were created in the model. They were drawn from a probability distribution, so the actual future encounter rate was only indicated, not precisely determined by them.

For most plausible sets of costs, benefits and chances of future encounters the simulation found that it pays to be trusting, even though you will sometimes be cheated. Which, if you think about it, makes perfect sense. Previous attempts to study the evolution of trust using games have been arranged to make it clear to the participants whether their encounter was a one-off, and drawn their conclusions accordingly. That, though, is hardly realistic. In the real world, although you might guess, based on the circumstances, whether or not you will meet someone again, you cannot know for sure. Moreover, in the ancient world of hunter-gatherers, limited movement meant a second encounter would be much more likely than it is in the populous, modern urban world.

No need, then, for special mechanisms to explain generosity. An open hand to the stranger makes evolutionary as well as moral sense. Except, of course, that those two senses are probably, biologically speaking, the same thing. But that would be the subject of a different article.

Monday, August 08, 2011


 Un corto visual para estimular las buenas ideas....

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Un nuevo mapa de relaciones humanas

Uno de los fenomenos principales de la era digital es la interconectividad instantanea a nivel global entre los seres humanos. Gracias a Facebook, Tweeter, y mensajes de textos, hoy mas que nunca nuestro circulo de influencia (y a su vez el nivel de ser influenciados por otros) se expande y cruza fornteras y espacios.  Solo piensa en el ultimo "status" de un amigo virtual que te hizo pensar, reir, o reflexionar y sabras a lo que me refiero.

Para entender la magnitud de este efecto vean este mapa de relaciones humanas de los friends de Facebook.  Paul Butler, un intern de Facebook, ha hecho una representacion grafica de las conexiones de "friends" de los mas de 500 millones de usuarios de esta red social a traves de todo el mundo.  Butler dice en su entrada de blog "What really struck me, though, was knowing that the lines didn't represent coasts or rivers or political borders, but real human relationships."

El lenguaje como medio de colaboracion

El biologo Mark Pagel propone que el lenguaje es una pieza de tecnologia social que realza los beneficios de la cooperacion.  Gracias al lenguaje los humanos hemos podido acceder la esfera de la cooperacion y explotar sus beneficios.