The elderly have never been honored in American society. They have more often been stereotyped, stigmatized and pitied. And according to Princeton University psychological scientist Susan Fiske, this unfair ageist stereotyping could become even darker with the new influx of seniors.
Of course, there is no way we can completely resist all the genetic, neurological, psychological, emotional and social forces that influence our decision making. But a few simple steps can prevent us from making truly appalling decisions.
Attractiveness is the modern equivalent of what our ancient ancestors saw as trustworthy and safe, so we would expect any deviation in the faces we actually know to diminish attractiveness. Yet a huge amount of research says the opposite.
Even if this election ends in a victory for the president, it's worth examining whether embracing our biases (and re-enforcing them by surrounding ourselves with people and media that confirm them) is ultimately good for us as individuals, party loyalists or citizens of the nation.
Before deciding that a campaign based on accusations of dishonesty must work, it might be worth checking your own biases at the door, at least long enough to ensure they are not leading you, your cause and your candidate over another cliff.
Neighbors lingered a long time on the lawns and street, long after the emergency workers and police had left. There was nothing we could do to help, but nobody seemed quite ready to give up the sense of solidarity that emerges around such threatening experiences.
It's been known for some time that our heightened vigilance can trigger a biological response as well. We're heading into flu season now, so we're primed to be circumspect, and this in turn puts the body's disease-fighting cells on high alert. But does it also work the other way around?
We think of Spokane and Olympia as psychologically close because they're both in Washington, even though Olympia is actually much closer to Portland, Ore. The mapmaker in our neurons favors the category over actual proximity.