Love, Not Just Tolerate, Thy Neighbor and Other Assorted Links

“I feel comfortable when I hang out with them.” “I’m truly interested in understanding their point of view.” “I feel I can be myself when I am around them.” “To enrich my life, I would try to make more friends (from that group).”

Those are the warm fuzzy feelings that Professor Todd Pittinksy wants to promote, according to this piece in The Economist ($). When it comes to prejudice, most people stress "tolerance". Not good enough (nor effective), says Pittinksy. He believes in “allophilia” — liking for other groups — and the behavior it inspires.

For example, the attitude of an American voter towards immigration is determined less accurately by party affiliation or social and economic status than by the degree to which he or she simply likes Latinos. And people’s choices in charitable giving, study, voluntary work and travel are guided, not surprisingly, by the sort of groups that make them feel good.

More controversially, allophilia theory holds that efforts to fight racism often err in trying to abolish or minimise the difference between groups—telling people that “we and they are really the same” or “we all belong to a bigger group, and that matters more than any slight difference.”

Other ideas and articles that flowed through my brain today:

  • Scott Sossel’s review of Nigel Hamilton and the biography genre: "Fiction and biography, he writes, have in some ways traded places, and the boundary between fact and fiction in memoir and biography is only becoming more porous."
  • Are gay neighborhoods, most notably San Francisco’s Castro, losing their identity thanks to heterosexual couples moving in and the sense among gays that they don’t need their own hood? Also, are gay executives the best leaders? Interesting research from USC.
  • Notes from a talk given by Google’s Marissa Mayer. "If at least 20% of people use a feature, then it will be included."
  • Claremont Graduate University is establishing the nation’s first psychology doctoral program on happiness, led by Claremont Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow.
  • Dave Chapelle as "Black President Bush". Hilarious.
  • The "Mystery Man on Film," a screenwriter who blogs about the art of the craft, reminds us to consider a character’s goals in the context of Maslow’s Hierarchy.
  • Journalist Neil Strauss: "The average life takes about 17 hours to tell. Every life story I’ve ever collected has ended up taking up almost the exact amount of tape. It’s odd, when you think about it, that in all those years, each of us has only collected less than a day of interesting material."

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