In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff


We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.







Try Advanced Search


  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...


CultureBlogs
Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
PhilosoBlog
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Gregdotorg
BookSlut
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Cronaca
Plep
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Seablogger
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette


Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Samizdata
Junius
Joanne Jacobs
CalPundit
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Public Interest.co.uk
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
Spleenville
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
CinderellaBloggerfella
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
InstaPundit
MindFloss
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes


Miscellaneous
Redwood Dragon
IMAO
The Invisible Hand
ScrappleFace
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz

Links


Our Last 50 Referrers







« Guest Posting -- Toby Thain | Main | Squaresville Can Be Good »

March 29, 2004

A Visit to the Land of the Optimists

Michael:

I was intrigued by your recent posting, Prosperity and Immigration, (which can be read here). This discussed the oddly negative picture the media paint of the fortunes of Middle-America, as described in The Economist:

The economy, it is said, is being “hollowed out” by international competition and the connivance of business and political elites, creating “two Americas”, one rich, one poor. Median income of American households, commentators often say, has been stagnant, though census figures give a rise of one-fifth since 1980. Lou Dobbs, on CNN's “Lou Dobbs Tonight”, is just one media fabulist who makes his living by claiming that, as America is being “exported”, so the well-being of middle Americans is in a parlous state.

In truth, of course, most indications of the collapse of the middle-class are the result of statistical artifacts. America’s uniquely high immigration rate of the past twenty-five years, which has resulted in a large pool of very-low-income workers, has pulled numbers like the ‘median’ wage down. Once immigrants are factored out of the mix, median income—for the native-born—has shown the same growth that it did during the ‘golden age’ of the 1950s and 1960s.

Partly this resonated with me because I had been hearing stories of the decline-and-fall-of-the-middle-class for years and yet couldn’t find any real-life examples of modern middle-class Americans who didn’t have nicer cars, didn’t have far more toys (for both children and adults), didn’t take far better vacations and didn’t have far larger investment portfolios than my family did when I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. (This last wasn’t hard to beat, as we had none.) I’ve also been aware that I ‘ve had to pay employees, junior and senior alike, significantly higher real salaries recent years than I did in 1986, the year I started my business. In short, this analysis confirmed a suspicion that I had nursed privately all along, that the prosperity of the 1980s and 1990s was quite a bit more widely shared than some class-warrior commentators had maintained. And who doesn’t like to be able to say: Ah, I thought so.)

But I was also intrigued by the larger question: why are people so willing to embrace negative views of the world, even to the point of disregarding the fairly evident positive evidence in front of their eyes? (I’m not pointing any finger here—I’m by nature a fairly extreme pessimist, far more inclined to see the glass as half empty than half full. As you can see, I really have no business being an entrepreneur.)

So when I saw that this analysis derived from a book by Greg Easterbrook with the title “The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse,” I just had to buy it. I wanted to see the world through the eyes of an optimist for a change—sort of like going on a vacation to a sun-and-sand resort to get away from my own wintry mental landscape.

Just Another Day in Easterbrook Land

Well, Mr. Easterbrook is nothing if not an optimist. The book starts off with a discussion of all the positive trends of the past 30 years, including improvements in the economy, the environment, private virtue, health care, even the international situation (okay, so here the good news, the ‘defeat’ of Communism and the greatly decreased odds of U.S.-Russian nuclear war is a bit dated, but hey, I said he was an optimist.)

Mr. Easterbrook then moves on to a rather once-over-lightly on the reasons why our world view tends to be darker than it probably has any good reason to be. He begins by noting that people’s evaluation of their financial situation focuses less on the where they are at the moment than where they think they’re going. He suggests that our progress has been so dramatic that few of us can imagine equivalent improvements in the future—hence, we evaluate our situation negatively. Mr. Easterbrook also tosses in the observation that people have a strange attachment to what he calls ‘collapse anxiety,’ worrying about disaster scenarios that will tank our entire society. He also makes a fist at the media’s preference for sensational doom and gloom over gradual improvement in life. Finally, he scowls at political activists on both the right and the left who spread ‘going to hell in a handbasket’ scenarios as fund-raising tools. Fair enough.

However, all of this is discussed rather briskly because he has what he considers a better reason for our pessimism in his back pocket. Yes, what Mr. Easterbrook really thinks in his heart of hearts is that our values are screwed up. A confirmed moralist, he seems quite delighted to report that all our material wealth hasn’t really made us happy:

If you sat down with a pencil and graph paper to chart the trends of American and European life since the end of World War II, you'd do a lot of drawing that was pointed up....[B]ut your graphs would lose their skyward direction when the topics turned to the inner self. The trend line for happiness has been flat for fifty years. The trend line is negative for the number of people who consider themselves "very happy," that percentage gradually declining since the 1940s. And the trend line would cascade downward like water over a falls on the topic of avoiding depression. Adjusting for population growth, ten times as many people in the Western nations today suffer from "unipolar" depression, or unremitting bad feelings without a specific cause, than did half a century ago....

And why, if we’ve gotten so darned rich (and we pretty much all are, relative to our grandparents) why doesn’t this translate into greater happiness?

Nearly all well-being research supports the basic conclusion that money and material things are only weakly associated with leading a good life. [Nobel Prize Winning professor] Kahneman sums up his research in the simple phrase, “Life circumstances don’t seem to have much effect on happiness.” Veenhoven’s work suggests that the magic number at which money decouples from happiness is about $10,000 per capita per annum. “In the relationship between national happiness and national income,” he says, “we see a very clear pattern of diminishing returns, with the bend-off point at about $10,000 annual income.” Per-capita income in the United States in 2000 was $29,499. Both the United States and Western Europe are long past the statistical point where, on average, money can still buy happiness.

The paradoxical fact that most of us spend our time pursuing financial rewards far in excess of what well-being researchers think does us any good actually comes in kind of handy for Mr. Easterbrook’s thesis. This is because Mr. Easterbrook has a use for all that excess money (the cash that isn’t buying us happiness.) He wants to use it to buy other people happiness. The last few chapters of the book lay out an agenda of Mr. Easterbrook’s suggestions for how the world should be improved:

(1) Make universal domestic health care a reality
(2) Raise all wages to at least a $10/hour living wage with healthcare benefits (to be accomplished voluntarily, somehow, not via governmental fiat)
(3) “[Devise] a system in which corporate leadership is not based on deceit and greed”
(4) Transcend our modern materialism and nihilism (“Gradually moving beyond materialistic obsession, while discarding fashionable theories of pointlessness in order to reclaim a mainly hopeful view of the human prospect, seem two of the leading challenges facing Western society.”)
(5) End Third World poverty (“The nations of the West should take on as their next historic challenge the defeat of global despair.”)
(6) Deal with global warming

As you notice, not all of these involve spending money, but Mr. Easterbrook’s agenda does have a distinct trend in that direction:

These are the sorts of changes men and women must make for themselves, from within, since no law can ever determine what is in our hearts. But there are also areas where the challenges facing the Western nations, and the globe as a whole, are ones regarding the reform of laws and social structures. That leads to a question: Is there still time to change the world?

And we know how an optimist like Mr. Easterbrook will answer that type of rhetorical question—with a big fat Yes! Obviously—well, at least obviously to Mr. Easterbrook, anyway—

…[t]he reason that the problems of the present—such as developing-world destitution, greenhouse gases, or poverty amidst American plenty—seem “unsolvable” today is simply that we have not yet begun the work of solving them.

I grant you, I was a little stunned to hear that we had not yet begun the task of dealing with American poverty, but, well, whatever. Actually, by the time I got to the end of the book, it dawned on me that Mr. Easterbrook’s view of the world is that of an unreconstructed (okay, barely reconstructed) Great Society 1960’s–style liberal. There is no world problem that a combination of income redistribution and virtuous intentions can’t solve. The effect was so strong that when I finished the book at the mall where I was eating lunch I was tempted to go out and buy some Beatles’ singles, beginning with “All You Need is Love.”

So how do I, as a confirmed pessimist, view all this? Well, naturally, I’ve got some questions about it. The first of these questions goes to the issue of whether or not income above $10,000 annually per capita buys us any happiness, or, more broadly, anything of value.

Mr. Easterbrook’s happiness “data” are entirely the result of self-reported surveys—to wit, how you answer when someone asks if you are very happy, happy, not-so-happy, or blue. While not denigrating the idea of happiness research, I think most of us would have to recognize that polls of this type are awfully fuzzy data collection tools. In fact, Mr. Easterbrook even acknowledges this point, albeit in a sort of backhanded manner:

It’s impossible to be certain, of course, precisely what happiness is. Men and women may go back and forth on whether they feel happy; there is no hard metric, like an SAT score or a forty-yard dash time. Much of what is known on this subject from a data standpoint is “self-reported happiness”—what people tell researchers or pollsters…Psychologist Daniel Kahneman of Princeton University, who won the 2002 Nobel Prize for Economics, and a colleague named Amos Tversky spent the better part of two decades trying to devise an reliable, impartial scale of “subjective well-being” and eventually gave up.

Not that such methodological problems slow the good Mr. Easterbrook down for more than a paragraph or two, of course. And there is that data of a reported 10-fold increase in serious depression, which would seem to be a ‘harder’ number, right?

Well…maybe not. As far as I can tell, the notion of a 10-fold increase in serious mental illness is anchored by comparisons with U.S. census data…from 1880! According to an article (that can be read in full here):

The most complete enumeration of severe psychiatric disorders ever carried out by the U.S. Census Office was done in 1880. Because of widespread fears at the time that insanity was increasing, census enumerators were given special forms and extra pay to identify all severely mentally ill people, including querying neighbors of the person in question. In addition, all 100,000 physicians in the United States were asked to report "all idiots and lunatics within the sphere of their personal knowledge," and over 80% did so….A total of 91,997 insane people were identified….The prevalence of insane people, both hospitalized and living in the community, was 1.83 per 1,000 total population….And yet the [large National Institute of Mental Health national] ECA study from 1980 reported a prevalence rate for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder that was almost 10 times higher than the 1880 prevalence rate.

Gee, do you think they used exactly the same criteria for mental illness as we do today (somehow, that phrase “idiots and lunatics” isn’t very reassuring.) Which is not to say that mental illness in general, and depression in specific, isn’t increasing—there are various reasons to think so, although similar methodological objections can be raised to any method of estimating the size of the increase.

But even granting the increasing incidence of depression, the question arises: is depression increasing because we are becoming increasingly and self-defeatingly affluent, as Mr. Easterbrook insists? I did a brief web search regarding studies on depression and noticed several findings that would seem to raise doubts about that argument. A Swedish study (based on the entire population of the country between 1996 and 1999) revealed that:

…with increasing levels of urbanisation, the incidence rates of psychosis and depression rose. Those living in the most densely populated areas had 68%-77% more risk of developing psychosis, and 12%-20% more risk of developing depression, than those living in the least densely populated areas.

Well, there has been a continuing increase in population density over the past century, so presumably a chunk of any increasing depression has come from that source. Another article (from the Medical Journal of Australia, which you can read here) looked at the effects of religious faith on depression and other mental illnesses:

The reasons why people with a sense of religious commitment are less likely to become depressed may include a feeling of social connectedness, exposure to messages about healthy living, or perhaps the reduced exposure to drug-taking behaviour. However, studies controlling for these factors have still found religiosity to be independently protective. So there may be other reasons, such as the comfort that comes from believing in a benevolent and caring God, the view that justice always prevails in the end, or that adverse events always have a meaning and a message. Such attitudes would buffer enormously against the ill-effects of life stresses and the depression that often follows.

Unquestionably, there has been a measurable decline in religious activity over the past century, which would seem to have resulted in another net increase in depression and other mental illness.

And if increasing depression were chiefly the result of excessive materialism and the burden of earning a high income, why is it that the incidence of depression is more common at the bottom end of the income distribution? A paper studying the relationship between socioeconomic status and depression among middle-aged sister and brother pairs in the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS) reveals that:

There is only moderate sibling resemblance with regard to depression. The depression factors for siblings are correlated between r = 0.09 and r = 0.16; that is, between 9 and 16 percent of the variance in depression is common to sibling pairs. This weak correlation lends support to the hypothesis that depression, at least as measured by the CESD, is primarily situational, rather than a characteristic: a state, rather than a trait. However, the causal model suggests that lower levels of depression are related to a relatively enduring measure of [high] socioeconomic status…Regardless of gender, individuals with more accumulated wealth tend to have lower levels of depression. [emphasis added]

Now, a correlation between low social and economic status and depression can be interpreted several different ways, but at least one of those ways is that higher wealth and accomplishment functions as a (at least partial) safeguard against depression. So perhaps all that getting and spending that Mr. Easterbrook attributes to ‘keeping up with the Jonses’ and to mindless materialism might actually have some significant real-world benefit. After all, the disparity between all the furious effort involved in making ever larger sums of money in society and the absence of any reported ‘happiness’ payoffs is a kind of giant blinking red light announcing that something doesn’t add up here.

Okay, I grant you, my pessimistic world-view has accomplished very little other than to raise no doubt niggling objections to Mr. Easterbrook’s agenda for universal human happiness. Sigh. Well, maybe I picked up one insight into the way.

In his book, Mr. Easterbrook takes a brief detour into the world of ‘positive’ psychology, which is devoted to the study of what makes people happy, good, productive, etc., in opposition to that field’s traditional emphasis on pathology and psychological dysfunction. Again, being the highly moral individual that he is, Mr. Easterbrook interprets the findings of such positive psychologists as Martin Seligman to suggest that an increase in community-oriented activity would make people far happier than an increase in their already bloated income. And that may very well be true. However, being the annoying pessimist I am, I noted another aspect of Dr. Seligman’s thought might explain the surprisingly high rates of depression and lack of joy from all our economic success even better than our rotten values. This is his theory of depression as a form of ‘learned helplessness.’

Back in the 1960s, when Dr. Seligman was a standard-issue behavorist studying the conditioning of dogs via electric shocks, he discovered that it is possible to educate dogs into a state of helplessness by restraining them while forcing them to endure painful electric shocks. Thereafter, the ‘conditioned’ dogs made no effort to avoid the shocks (which were eminently avoidable), apparently already having been convinced that such an effort was futile. Dr. Seligman expanded this into a theory of depression, which he noted resembled such a state of learned helplessness and resignation. He pointed out that in humans, of course, such a state of learned helplessness had less to do with electric shocks and more to do with habitual modes of thinking about failure and the futility of attempts to fix problems.

I’ve often wondered if the low rates of entrepreneurship and the preference for relatively traditional employment models isn’t a function of societal training—to wit, if it’s not a form of ‘learned helplessness.’ It would certainly take a lot of the joy out of making money—even big money—if in the back of your mind you were always convinced, like those poor conditioned dogs, that your ability to make that money was dependent on the sufferance of or on the continuing acuity of your bosses. And if their ability to make good decisions came at the sufferance of or depended on the continuing acuity of other, higher authority figures—like government officials. Gee, I can see where that would make anyone anxious. In fact, I can even see where it might give them a form of collapse anxiety!

Well, maybe I didn't learn so much, but I did get my vacation in the land of the optimists. Hmmm, how are you feeling these days?

Cheers,

Friedrich

posted by Friedrich at March 29, 2004




Comments

(a) The reason I think the world is going to hell in a handbasket is Britney Spears' popularity. I've said it before and I'm stickin' to it.

(b) "In addition, all 100,000 physicians in the United States were asked to report "all idiots and lunatics within the sphere of their personal knowledge," and over 80% did so….A total of 91,997 insane people were identified…." Well, the sheer rise in idiotics and lunatics in the country may very well account for why the rest of us are depressed now. Only 91,000 in 1880! I've hand single years when I have encountered at least that many!

(c) I think "learned helplessness" may very well be at the root of the anxiety-ridden country we are. However, as you noted, once dogs were conditioned to believe they were helpless, they saw themselves as such regardless of a change in circumstances. Meaning...that becoming an entrepreneur does not change that belief system if it is in place. As you pointed to yourself as an example.

(d) I think volatile stock markets in a world where the stock value of one's retirement portfolio is important (instead of one where one's pension with good ole' GM is important---a big difference from the prior generation) and where planes crash into skyscrapers on sunny mornings and where we have had to absorb that our government leaders are not all good, bright, capable men and where y'know, "The Bachelor" is on TV for God's sake, might also have something to do with a growing malaise, none of which specifically has to do with per capita income.

Posted by: annette on March 29, 2004 4:58 PM



The notion that (to steal annette's phrase) the world is going to hell in a handbasket because people aren't happy all the time is idiocy, mind boggling idiocy.
Happiness, when it arrives, is a kind of miracle. Rejoice in it. Revel in it. But don't make the radical mistake of counting on its hanging around.
Who knows why we're happy when we're happy. No one, psychoanalysts not withstanding. I'm happy today. Maybe it's Spring, maybe it's something I ate, or didn't eat, my blood sugar level, maybe none of the above, again, who knows? And if I'm miserable tommorrow, or just so-so, that comes with the territory, that's life.
God, I get sick of people who want "to cure" the human condition!

Posted by: ricpic on March 29, 2004 8:01 PM



Although I believe economic factors might influence a person's level of happiness I don't think they are directly related. I think Happiness has more to do with an internal process that happens exclusively in your mind, and that is only affected by external factors if you allow that to happen.
Instead of being too optimistic or pessimistic, I think the best attitude to adopt is a realistic one. Like Annette said, Britney Spears is still popular, and that's definitely something to worry about (it might be a sign of the apocalypse coming)! Let's hope for a better future, but without forgetting problems such as this one.

Posted by: Rod on March 29, 2004 9:27 PM



I know for sure that having an income of greater than $10,000 makes me happier. What would I do without a computer and broadband internet access?

(Probably get a lot accomplished.)

Posted by: . on March 29, 2004 10:52 PM



I've seen recent research (a meta-study, no less!) that showed that in current dollars, over $50,000 per year doesn't buy you any more happiness. Up to there, yes.

Choice of a source that cites a very low point ($10,000/year) for that diminishing return point allows Mr. Easterbrook to scold us for wanting things that improve life. Ha, we've had not much more than $10,000/year in our house lately, and I'll tell you that we'd have been much happier with another few grand to fix chronic dental problems, let alone (gasp!) a car.

We're not collectively on average over that diminishing return point quite yet, when over $50,000 per year becomes the mode in the US, then I expect navel gazing to increase, as more suddenly doens't get you any happier.

Posted by: David Mercer on March 30, 2004 4:43 AM



Sorry, I've barely skimmed your posting, although it looks interesting and I *will* read it in detail when I have more time. Meanwhile, a couple of thoughts that occur to me:

I personally have enough income to live comfortably at the moment and do not really want more. What I don't have, however, is any confidence that that happy state of affairs is going to continue. As you say, that may be contrary to the evidence but I worry about it anyway (more for my family than for myself). Some of this may be be grounded in rational risk assessment, some in psychological hangups that I received from my parents (my dad did grow up poor, and worked very hard to keep our heads above water in my childhood). I also wonder if some of it may be an evo-bio thing. Might anxiety be an adaptive advantage, perhaps, if it stops you getting complacent about your food supply?

I also read, a while back, a psychologist saying that (presumably above some basic level of non-starvation) people tend to be more contented if most of the people around them are at similar level of material well-being. People assess their well-being not by whether their basic needs are met, but by whether they appear to be doing better or worse than other people around them. And unfortunately, socieites that produce the most wealth also tend to produce quite a bit of inequality as a by product. Not sure what, if anything, it might be possible to do about that. (Other than train everybody in yoga so they realise that that stuff doesn't ultimately matter.)

Posted by: Alan Little on March 30, 2004 5:06 AM



Consideration of "revealed preference" (the way people act) vs. the preference expressed on opinion surveys (what they say matters) is vital to evaluating Easterbrook's case. Is there any reason to prefer the latter over the former?

Posted by: JT on March 30, 2004 10:53 AM



Overlooked by both Easterbrook and Michael vB is that even though incomes for the middle-class have remained steady or even grown slightly over the past two decades, they've done so thanks to two trends that undoubtedly exacerbate stress and insecurity: First, the number of two wage-earner families continues to increase, and second, the average debt/income ratio is out of sight. It seems likely that while increases in income don't translate into increased happiness, feelings of income *insecurity* (of losing what you've got) probaly translate into unhappiness.

Posted by: Michael C on March 30, 2004 11:33 AM



I've always wondered which way the arrow of causality points in the wealthhappiness association.

The few successful entrepreneurs I've had close contact with have struck me as manically happy, high-energy people. (Both were bosses of mine; one an owner of a chain of picture-framing shops and art galleries on Cape Cod, the second opened a retail tobacco franchise, then left that to take the CEO position of an electronic component manufacturing company.) They just seem to love the challenge of being in business, and even when things are going badly they still revel in the game.

I've always wondered if they're so happy because they've become successful, or if their constantly happy state brought about their success? I suspect the latter. They both came from poor and humble beginnings, and lord knows you need vast reserves of optimism and energy to start a business from scratch. (I suspect you have more of these traits than you let on, FvB.)

But what have other readers' experiences of dealing with successful entrepreneurs been like? All happy fellows? And if so, did the happiness come before the wealth, or after?

Posted by: Nate on March 30, 2004 3:54 PM



My theories:

1)More people are being diagnosed with depression since the advent of prozac and other SSRI drugs that have fewer adverse side effects than traditional antidepressants. Remember the 90s when prozac was hailed as a wonder drug? Also, the books/articles a few years later that bemoaned the fact that Americans were expecting happiness from a pill. In addition, these drugs are commonly prescribed by family/primary care doctors, so you needn't go to a psychiatrist to get treatment. They've become as easy to obtain as antibiotics for an infection.

2)Religion: Isn't despair one of the seven deadly sins? This may have a direct effect on how people in the past viewed these episodes and how people today react. They believed it was a sin to wallow while we expect happiness as our right.

3)Wealth/entrepreneurship/energy: Could be someone with no energy, feeling despair, no direction can't really lift themselves up out of their circumstances while people with busy lives or fulfilling careers don't have time to brood. Also, this may not be a permanent state. Often a major depression is triggered after setbacks such as losing a job, or having a business go down the tubes. Your average entrepreneur may just pick himself up and go on to the next business but I'd wager that someone making $50,000 or so who suddenly finds himself with no income isn't going to react that way. Especially when the job search goes on for months and months, not the few weeks he'd anticipated.

Posted by: Rachel on March 31, 2004 1:44 PM



Rachel, your number 3 is right on the mark. The entrepreneurs I've known who still had a cushion to fall back on when a business tanked tend to get right back on that horse; but not if it takes you down below the poverty line. Then you almost certainly will be depressed, and take a couple/few years to recouperate and get back into the next venture.

Seems to hold when reading historical accounts, and matches my own experiences in the dot-com boom/crash.

Posted by: David Mercer on March 31, 2004 1:56 PM



Pick your psych lense - "learned helplessness" or "internal/external locus of control." The former points to "societal training" while the latter insinuates something innate. I've watched as a poor immigrant, with the social cards stacked against him, beaten down several times without ever losing faith that he has within his power to eventually succeed. I've also known a rich suburbanite with all the advantages one could imagine just as convinced that the world was against her.

Posted by: Carl Jung on April 5, 2004 1:20 AM






Post a comment
Name:


Email Address:


URL:


Comments:



Remember your info?