The Human Nature Top 10

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Over the past few days I happen to have posted about two aspects of human nature that most people don’t pay enough attention to:

  1. Loss aversion: people really, really hate to lose something they already have and will forego even favorable risks to avoid it.
  2. Regression to the mean: an especially strong performance is likely to be followed by a weaker performance and vice versa.

I propose we construct a top ten list of similar things. Not personal pet theories, but aspects of human nature that are (a) widely accepted and relatively noncontroversial among professionals, and (b) underappreciated by most of us. They can come from anywhere: economics, psychology, sociology, politics, anthropology, whatever.

(“Underappreciated” is important! You might believe, for example, that people who fall in love do stupid things. And maybe so. But this is not exactly something that’s failed to attract sufficient attention in popular culture.)

I encourage other bloggers to join in. What are your favorite aspects of human nature that get short shrift in popular discourse even though they’re pretty strongly supported in the academic literature? It’s a weekend and this should be a fun exercise. Let’s hear it.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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