Japanese Phenomenon “Hikikimori” Is Going GlobalHikikimori is the phenomenon of people having severe social withdrawal. This can usually be seen in adolescents and young adults who decide to stay inside their parent’s homes. These people are unable to go outside for months or years, and may be unable to go to school or work.The Japanese government has estimated that due to their aging population, more people are deciding to be a hikikomori, also known as the modern-day hermits or social recluses. In 2010, the country has been witness to over 700,000 citizens succumbing to the phenomenon. Now, however, this withdrawal is no longer prominent in Japan alone. If we consider certain past events, as well as the rise of more middle-class people steering towards social isolation, then this is not a surprise at all. One study from 2023  even points out that the phenomenon is spreading globally. This isn’t just the introvert thoughts of not wanting to interact with people for the day, no. Interviews and surveys actually show that the hikikomori feel strong levels of distress and angst. The mere idea of stopping this behavior brings these people pain and anguish. While there are a lot of papers that hypothesize and speculate on the possible mental trigger for this phenomenon, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, for now, the consensus is that there is no underlying mental condition that triggers this phenomenon. Learn more about the hikikomori here. Image credit: Pixabay #socialisolation #psychology #sociology #issues #Japan #spread #hikikomori
The Science of Kawaii: How Cute Things Affect Human BehaviorWhy do we find videos of kittens and puppies cute? Why do we go “aww” when we see babies? Why do cute videos make us happier? To answer these questions, we go to the Japanese word that is synonymous with the word cute: “kawaii.” And because it is a Japanese word, we also need some help from a Japanese person.Enter Hiroshi Nittono, the director of the Cognitive Psychophysiology Laboratory at Osaka University.Nittono is a kawaii researcher—that is, he studies the Japanese concept of cuteness and how we experience it. His research has found that looking at kawaii images, like photos of puppies or kittens (or baby alpacas, perhaps?) helps us focus and pay attention to detail, improves our attention, and leads to better task performance.“Kawaii things not only make us happier but also affect our behavior,” Nittono’s original 2012 study reported.To summarize what he said, kawaii is the “cute emotion” that we experience when we encounter something that makes us feel said emotion. This emotion makes us act tenderly and protectively towards the kawaii object. It is also worth noting that the concept of kawaii is not limited to the visual sense.More about this over at Wired.The more we know!(Image Credit: Pixabay)#Kawaii #Cute #CognitivePsychophysiology #Psychology #Brain
Uncertainty Increases People's Curiosity but Decreases HappinessIn this intriguing new study published in Nature, researchers from Radboud University, the Netherlands, demonstrated that uncertainty increases curiosity but decreases happiness:Curiosity might correspond to an appetitive drive elicited by the state of uncertainty, because we like that state, or rather it might correspond to an aversive drive to reduce the state of uncertainty, because we don’t like it.To investigate this, we obtained both subjective valence (happiness) and curiosity ratings from subjects who performed a lottery task that elicits uncertainty-dependent curiosity.We replicated a strong main effect of outcome uncertainty on curiosity: Curiosity increased with outcome uncertainty, irrespective of whether the outcome represented a monetary gain or loss.By contrast, happiness decreased with higher outcome uncertainty. This indicates that people were more curious, but less happy about lotteries with higher outcome uncertainty. These findings raise the hypothesis, to be tested in future work, that curiosity reflects an aversive drive to reduce the unpleasant state of uncertainty.Image: Lieke L.F. van Lieshout et al.#psychology #happiness #curiosity #uncertainty