Why the Poor Throw Happier Parties
- 2009 May-June
People with upper socioeconomic backgrounds can often be accused of flaunting their status by buying stuff. It turns out, however, that it’s easy to identify socioeconomic status just from watching body language. To prove this, psychologists Michael W. Kraus and Dacher Keltner of the University of California, Berkeley, videotaped participants as they got to know one another in one-on-one interview sessions. When a separate group of observers were shown 60-second clips of the videos, they were able to correctly guess the participants’ socioeconomic status (SES) background from behavioral clues.
What’s fascinating are the two types of behaviors the researchers observed: disengagement behaviors (including fidgeting with personal objects and doodling) and engagement behaviors (including head nodding, laughing, and eye contact). As it turned out, volunteers whose parents were from upper SES backgrounds were easy to spot because of disengagement-related behaviors, as compared to participants from lower SES backgrounds. The researchers surmise that people from upper SES backgrounds tend to be less dependent on others. That, in turn, leads to measurably fewer feelings of needing to engage with others; thus, less head nodding, less laughter, and less eye contact.
How to Stay in an Italian Monastery
Since the fifth century, monasteries, convents, and abbeys have been hosting guests who call at the door, following the rule of St. Benedict. The problem for the modern traveler, however, is finding a real monastery and figuring out how to arrange for a room. But now there’s help. Monasterystays.com will locate places in the region you wish to visit and will call to book your stay. Most of these rooms are simple, with single beds and private baths, and are relatively inexpensive. There are curfews to consider, as the monks and nuns serve a higher calling than just inn-keeping, but you’re guaranteed peace and quiet among gentle people. For a spiritual adventure, this could be a great place to start.
The Grand Dream of a National Peace Academy
It’s the year 2020, the National Peace Academy is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and Barbara Walters is interviewing a selection of its alumni to tell the world what kinds of peacemaking they have been doing since graduating. Each person has as amazing tale to tell of peace in Africa, peace in the Middle East, peace on the streets of South Central Los Angeles, peace in all corners. . .
This imaginary scene was one of many skits aired during the recent three-day “Global Stakeholders Design Summit” for establishing a National Peace Academy. Convened by Peace Partnership International and hosted by Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, the meeting was attended by over 170 peacemakers from all sectors of society, including education, business, government, religion, and philanthropy.
The idea of a National Peace Academy was originally proposed in the 1980s by The National Peace Foundation and has been pursued through a variety of initiatives over the years, including through the United Nations and a congressional bill for a Cabinet-level Department of Peace.
Using a process called Appreciative Inquiry, the summit participants were guided through a series of exercises, assignments, and challenges designed to draw out the maximum creativity, visioning, and expertise from the group. Ideas ranged from a “brick and mortar” traditional academic institution similar to the United States Military Academy to a de-centralized global network.
At the end of this dynamic idea-fest, stakeholders came upon a prototype which described the Academy as a clearinghouse and resource center; a training institute for educators, government agencies, and community groups; and, potentially, a full-blown academic program offering undergraduate and graduate degrees. Representatives of the participating organizations will be meeting over the next few weeks to establish a timetable for the next steps leading up to the official opening of the Academy.
To get involved go to www.nationalpeaceacademy.us.