Sunday, March 18, 2007

We need a Manhattan Project like program to find a cure

A new study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior looks into the psychological underpinnings of a familiar pathology.
Some people find angry looks from others so rewarding they go out of their way to encourage them, Michigan researchers said.

"It's kind of striking that an angry facial expression is consciously valued as a very negative signal by almost everyone, yet at a non-conscious level can be like a tasty morsel that some people will vigorously work for," said Oliver Schultheiss, University of Michigan associate professor of psychology.

His study may explain why some people like to tease each other, he said.

"Perhaps teasers are reinforced by that fleeting annoyed look on someone else's face and therefore will continue to heckle that person to get that look again and again," he said. "As long as it does not stay there for long, it's not perceived as a threat, but as a reward."

People with this condition are generally known by the technical term "jerks." Dr. Schultheiss' research indicates, rather unsurprisingly, that jerkdom is associated with too much testosterone. It is too early in his research to talk about a treatment for the underlying causes of jerkdom, so in the interim, I suggest we stick to the traditional methods of treating the symptoms, the punch in the nose and the good swift kick. Of course, I'm not a professional, so you should take my advice with a few grains of salt.

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