October 10, 2012

Moral Decisions in Video Games
Part of the fun of video games is the chance to inhabit an exciting fictional world. So do people who play these games feel free to behave immorally toward the characters on screen? Not according to a new study from Indiana University. Researchers there asked 75 undergraduate volunteers—experienced gamers all—to fill out a “moral foundations questionnaire” and play the game Fallout 3. In their behavior toward nonplayer game characters, most of the volunteers applied the same morals they’d use in interacting with humans. (Daniel Akst, Ideas Market, The Wall Street Journal)

Attracted to Risk
We like watching risky stuff, but we prefer risks with a purpose. A study by psychologist G. William Farthing, published by the University of Maine, noted that men who do risky things don’t generally impress anyone, until they take those risks for altruistic reasons. At which point, people want to marry them. (Marc Herman, Pacific Standard)

Not “Martian Material”
NASA says a small bright object detected on Mars is likely a piece of plastic from the Curiosity rover. The six-wheel spacecraft captured an image of the puzzling object after scooping up Martian sand and dust. (Associated Press)

Fish Form of Oxytocin
Oxytocin is a hormone believed to boost social bonding, cooperation, love, monogamy, and even risky behavior in humans. A new study found that a form of the so-called “love drug” helps fish navigate social situations, suggesting the hormone has had an enduring behavioral role in vertebrates. (LiveScience)

On Evolution and Religion
Victor Stenger: The time has come for scientists and their societies to face up to the fundamental incompatibility between naturalist and theistic evolution. (The Huffington Post)

Category: Field Notes

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