Liberal gene? Read the fine prints, not the headlines.

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The media (The Guardian, Wonkette, etc.) yesterday reported on a study by researchers at the University of California and Harvard University that identified a "liberal gene". Naturally, I was skeptical, because a complex behaviour such as that of political activity (never mind ideologue) can hardly be pinned to a gene by a single study, no matter how extensive it is. Furthermore, conservatism and liberalism are tied to a specific type of political system, which is a cultural construct. How does genetic factor into a construct that isn't all that universal?

Reading the source paper, it was clear that the researchers did not intend for this to be an identify-the-gene paper. The study was framed as an explicit exploration of the link between the polymorphisms of DRD4 (regulating dopamine activity in the brain, associated with novelty-seeking behavior) and self-report political identification (perusing a Likert scale that aimed for a liberal-conservative spectrum), as moderated by the number of friends reported by the subjects.

Here's the actual conclusion of the study:

[I]t is the crucial interaction of two factors—the genetic predisposition of having a greater number of 7R alleles and the environmental condition of having many friends in adolescence—that is associated with being more liberal.
The emphasis is on interaction, not the finding of a 'liberal gene.' The authors stated explicitly that there was no such thing:
[W]e argue that the DRD4-7R allele cannot by itself predispose someone to a liberal ideology. It requires a context in which people are exposed to certain social environments.
An important caveat (bolded for emphasis):
Among those who do not carry the 7R allele, there is no relationship between number of friends and ideology. Moreover, we show that the 7R allele is not directly associated with the reported number of friends, nor is it directly associated with ideology.
A VERY loose interpretation of the study: IF and only IF you're a novelty-seeking person (more so than, say, people you friended on facebook, on average), you may lean towards liberalism if you got a lot of friends; alternately, you're more likely a conservative if nobody wants to invite you to her Halloween party, despite your awesome home made costume that you make every year. HOWEVER, if you don't have this DRD4-7R expressed allele, nobody knows what party you vote for. You could very well be a libertarian!

Other caveats of note:
The expectation in genetics is that only repeated efforts to replicate associations on independent samples by several research teams will verify initial findings like these.
Genetic effects take place in complex interaction with other genes and environments, and it is likely the combination of hundreds if not thousands of genes interacting with each other and with external stimuli that influence political attitudes and behavior.
[P]ast work suggests that political sophistication plays an important role in the manifestation of ideology (Converse 1964; Sniderman, Brody, and Tetlock 1993), but we cannot address the role that political sophistication might play in our results.
You also have to keep in mind that:
Subjects were young adults (age 18–26) by the time of the third wave and were asked several questions about their political behavior and civic activity. Our dependent variable, self-identified ideology, is ascertained from responses to the question, “In terms of politics, do you consider yourself conservative, liberal, or middle-of-the-road?” Five responses were permitted, “very conservative,” “conservative,” “middle-of-the-road,” “liberal,” or “very liberal.”
What the study seemed to measure was the subjects' political attitude, and not actual political partisanship or activity, which can be quite different. Noting the tumultuous time of youth, I wonder whether friends' influence on our political ideology would increase or decrease with age. Or, will whatever orientation that is formed during this developmental period persist with time? There are studies indicating attitudinal stability to be stronger than behavioral stability across life span (Hooge & Wilkenfeld, 2008). Researchers have shown that political attitude (not intensity) becomes more stable as we age, with youth (early adulthood, like those in the study in question) being the least stable time (Alwin & Krosnick, 1991). There maybe some event-graded effects (period of time influencing direction of political views; Danigelis, Cutler, & Hardy, 2007), but I would question how the window of age affects this interaction of gene and friends.

Of course, all of this questioning only further emphasizes the sociocultural, systemic (biology included) nature of political partisanship. Liberal gene? I'd put more stock in liberal jeans.


Alwin, D. F., & Krosnick, J. A. (1991). Aging, cohorts, and the stability of sociopolitical orientations over the life span. American Journal of Sociology, 97(1), 169-195.

Danigelis, N. L., Cultler, S. J., & Hardy, M. (2007). Population aging, intracohort aging, and sociopolitical attitudes. American Sociological Review, 72, 812-830.

Hooghe, M. & Wilkenfeld, B. (2008). The stability of political attitudes and behaviors across adolescence and early adulthood: A comparison of survey data on adolescents and young adults in eight countries. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 37(2), 155-167.

Settle, J. E., Dawes, C. T., Christakis, N. A., & Fowler, J. H. (2010). Friendships moderate an association between a Dopamine gene variant and political ideology. Journal of Politics, 72, 1189-1198.


All Bill Murray, all the time

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Portraits of different characters from Wes Anderson's 2001 film, The Royal Tenenbaums, if Bill Murray had played them all:

Brilliant depiction of Dissociative Identity Disorder (a.k.a. Multipersonality), or Jungian's Personas/Archetypes?


50 States represented by movies

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(redditor subtonix made this incredibly fun map, which I found via Blame It On The Voices)

Now, if only someone would make one for Canada ...

P.S. Why Jesus Camp twice?


Undressing Lamarckian Evolutionary Psychology

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Evolutionary Psychology is a branch of psychology that attempts to explain psychological behaviours and traits as products of natural selection. It seems to be one way for psychology to gain scientific acceptance - by adopting evolutionary biology, the principles of which it generally plays fast and loose with. Unfortunately, its place in popular culture is cemented by best selling books and questionable research paradigms that affirm intuitively sound but wildly inaccurate conclusions regarding gender differences. Claims by evolutionary psychology advocates have serious credibility issues amongst many scientific researchers (including all my professors). You simply can not adopt the blueprint for modern biology for psychology while ignoring the scientific logic behind it. My informed opinion (bias) comes from having been a human biology major and a psychology specialist, and from the courses I had taken on the subject, including Sex, roles & behaviour, and Evolutionary Psychology.

There is not a good argument to be found in the realm of behavioral biology for why American Women shop while their husbands sit on the bench in the mall outside the women's fashion store fantasizing about a larger TV on which to watch the game.
The above quote is by Greg Laden, a biologist who studied Efe Pygmies in the Ituri Forest, of Zaire. He blogs about science and culture over on ScienceBlogs conglomerate website. I recently came across his post on evolutionary psychology titled, "Why do women shop and men hunt?" It is an essential reading, so I'm going to cut and paste the main relevant arguments for you to skim through (comments in between provided by me; italics are added for emphasis):
  • What's your politics? "[T]he validity from an individual's perspective of the various arguments that men and women are genetically programmed to be different (in ways that make biological sense) is normally determined by the background and politics of the observer and not the science."
  • Evolution in brief: "Organisms have genes that vary (the variants are called alleles). Sometimes a variant arises that, when interacting with the environment, confers a negative or positive effect. Those that confer a positive effect with respect to the process of passing on genes to future generations are over-represented (on average) in the next generation while those that confer a negative effect are under-represented. If the strength of this selection is sufficient and random effects do not overpower it, there may be a shift in allele frequencies over time."

    It is by chance that a positive interaction between gene expression and environment takes place and is increasingly represented in the next generation. An interaction between gene expression (phenotypic variation) and environment averaged over time is the key here. Evolution is slow and the environment interacts with gene expressions rather than genes.

    "The link between phenotypic variation and the underlying genetic variation is almost always assumed and hardly ever documented directly."
  • The basic biology: "[H]umans are the result of evolution over two million years or so of the Pleistocene [...] The Pleistocene is, among recent geological time periods, considered to be the most variable in terms of climate change, and thus, overall ecology, habitat distributions, etc. There is no expectation that any given population making up part of a species like humans or their close relatives would have had any long term consistency in natural environment. [...] [H]abitat determines social structure in humans, with technology as a major factor. [...] There is also variation in important social norms beyond that which can be explained easily by ecology." There is no one social environment in which we evolved over millions of years. There goes evolutionary psychology.
  • Brain science: "It is very possible that module-like structures in our neocortex arise during development, de novo, in each of us, and that these modules are similar across groups (but perhaps different sometimes by gender) because of overall similar developmental trajectories."
  • Gender differences, artifacts? "There are dozens of reported gender differences, with piles of research demonstrating them. But when we look more closely, we often see that the either a) the methodology of the research sucks or b) the gender difference, while likely real, changes, goes away, or even reverses as times change, suggesting that the difference is (was) cultural."
  • There are some differences, sometimes. But not due to a direct link to genes. " Testosterone poising of neural tissue (indirectly) during development probably accounts for the fact that there are almost no male simultaneous translators. The neural ability to do this difficult thing is retains in some females but lost in almost all males during puberty. That is not genes coding for neural connections, but it is genes coding for different endocrine systems which then, through a series of negative and positive feedback systems, cause hormonally mediated changes in the body (including the brain)."
Basically, men are not from Mars and women are not from Venus. We are all genetically humans. Our behaviours are the results (so many paths to take!) of the interactions between our gene expressions and our developmental and cultural environment. Where we are different, it is more likely related to hormonal environment we were/are exposed to, or our social conditions, rather than our genes or our ancestral social behaviour. If there's a kind of evolution psychologists should focus on, it's the cultural one. The hunter gatherer scenario as as universal environment from which we got our traits is highly disputable. To continue championing a Lamarckian-like idea (that behaviours of individuals acquired during a life time are passed on to the next generation - in this case, behaviours acquired during a particular period in human history) of sex differences in our complex human society is to go against basic evolutionary principles and biological research. I know some people like to stoke the nature-versus-nurture battle (even though at this point most would agree it's likely a combination of both, and a direct causal gene-behaviour relationship is unlikely in most cases), but at some point, you need to stop trying to grab the headlines by pandering to the public's erroneous but intuitively familiar hunches. After all, isn't there some sort of duty to practice good science? You know, as proclaimed scientists and all?


VIFF 2010 capsule reviews: Armadillo, Biutiful, R U There (Day 3)

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Armadillo (Metz, 2010) Denmark. Winner: Critics Prize at Cannes 2010.

It was a surreal experience watching Armadillo, especially on the heel of the Oscar-winning film, The Hurt Locker (a film that used a documentary, in-action style to explore a bomb squad's life in Iraq during the war). The line between documentary style film-making and fictional film-making has become thin enough that a real documentary like this would seem at times fictional (possibly due to the amazing editing work). The Danish film unfolded like an assured, dramatic, emotionally resonant fictional film, as it documented the life of soldiers at Armadillo, an operating base that was home to Danish and British soldiers in Helmand province, Afghanistan, where they supposedly were trying to drive out the Talibans and establish 'peace.' The soldiers were followed from the time they set out to say good-bye to their families to the end of their mission. We saw them bonded over porn and macho activities, waiting anxiously to face 'war' as they expected. Instead, they were treated to months of little activities other than the occasional interactions with the locals, many of whom weren't too thrilled with their presence and blamed them for the region's increased instability. The Talibans hid with the locals, and one really got a sense of how difficult it was to simultaneously on the defense/offense and not yield collateral damages. When they finally were tested in the extreme confusion of combat fires, the implications of their actions (did they really break the rule of engagement and "liquidate wounded people and pile up the dead to take pictures of [themselves] as heroes?") were profound, and caused quite a stir in Denmark. The soldiers were allowed to defend themselves in the film - through their words as well as the footage of them in combat. Perhaps Metz summed it up best when he said: "maybe we're looking at something that goes to the core of something very human. The soldiers are so close to death and they actually kill someone. The way they handle the bodies afterward maybe testifies to something at the very core of humanity – of our grubby human nature. War has always been there. It has always been part of us." (quote via The Guardian)

Biutiful (Iñárritu, 2010) Mexico.

Iñárritu aims high when it comes to finding misery in the world. His matrix of human connections is that of misfortunes (see his previous films: 21 Grams, Babel). Good people make unfortunate decisions to survive, only to end up with horrible consequences because, well, life is just unforgiving like that. Uxbal (Javier Bardem), true to Iñárritu's typical character style, was forced to make difficult choices every day of his life, as he lived in the shadows of human existence with a family strung together tenuously by the wife's bipolar condition. He had a terminal disease; his children were abused; his wife was a chaotic presence; his brother slept with her behind his back; his good friend sold illegal drugs but he had to provide covers for; his predatory business partners exploited him as much as they could; the people he helped using his psychic gift (he could see the dead and their last thought) were resentful of his message as often as they were grateful for it; and his well intended decisions just kept getting him further tangled in a never-ending web of suffering. The good times did not stay long, and they were never wholeheartedly created to be just so. Uxbal's descent into hell was gradual and torturous: even by the time his spirit was thrown a life line in the form of an imagined family face, it was not much of a relief. Iñárritu wants you to get that life really, truly sucks for some people, and perhaps misery ends only after life. It was an exercise in feeling helpless, albeit a beautifully shot one.

R U There (Verbeek, 2010) Netherlands.

It was a typical exotic love story: Caucasian boy traveled the world and fell for a beautiful, mysterious local girl. They had an ambiguous relationship both online and offline. Verbeek attempted to investigate the line where the virtual world met reality, but what he ended up with was a feature-length advertisement for Second Life. The problem was, Second Life was anti-cinematic, choppy, shallow, hollow, and awkward. The chemistry off screen was not any better, despite the leads' effort to look as though they belonged in the same movie. There was one brief moment where Verbeek almost had a decent film: Jitze (Stijn Koomen), a professional gamer who was in Taiwan to compete in a video game tournament, witnessed a motor vehicle accident that he did nothing about. Then, instead of cutting away, the camera lingered a little too long, going for that unnecessary sensational effect. Elsewhere, the film skipped ever too lightly and superficially on the virtual worlds its main characters occupied - both the virtual gaming industry and Second Life resembled ideas of what they could look like, according to outsiders. The film bore an interesting premise, but that was all it was.


VIFF 2010: psychopathy and masculinity in Cold Fish (Day 2)

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Title: Tsumetai nettaigyo (Cold Fish)
Director: Sion Sono
Language: Japanese
Year: 2010
Critical Reception: Variety's faint praise, screened at TIFF, VIFF, and Venice.
Psych Index: Antisocial Personality Disorder, Gender
In Brief: Cult director Sion Sono serves up a comedic melodrama horror fest not for the faint of heart and fans of sushi. There's some reason to the madness - namely, an opportunity to investigate the pure "id" incarnation of the masculine aggression - but you'd need to go along for the blood-soaked ride in order to make sense of its purpose. Even then, there's no guarantee you'd be liking what it has to say.
Cold Fish is loosely based on a true story about Japan's series of murders from the 80s committed by the owner of a dog kennel and his ex-wife in Saimata. Director Sion Sono decided to bring the story to the present time, and relocated the serial killer (Murata, played with creepy exuberance by Denden) to a tropical fish store. The count, as reported by the time they were given the death sentence in 2009, was at four dismembered bodies, but the film made it a lot higher (30 and counting), as the cold fish killers made a profitable career out of their killings.

The violence portrayed in Cold Fish was comedic and over the top, but not so silly that it was without bite. The film took the concept of violence dehumanizing people literally, as it stripped them to their animal form/carcass. It was quite nausea inducing at first, but since repeated exposure to violence has the potential to normalize it, the audience may adapt to the graphic images just as Murata predicted when he said to the dumbstruck Shamoto (Mitsuru Fukikoshi), "you'll get used to it." Some things should not be gotten 'used to' though. There were several disturbing sexually aggressive acts against women depicted, and while a case can be made for their inclusion, it was still a dubious decision to include at least two violent rape sequences (the third one with the ex-wife's rape status is debatable). The stylish way with which the film was directed, along with the exaggerated comedic tone, were more unsettling when applied to sexual violence against women than to general serial murders. Serial killing by the number is quite low, when averaged across the human population, whereas violence against women is much more prevalent. Making sexual violence into black comedy is a bit, shall we say, ill-advised. If the men depicted were not so rotten, it would have made the film much less tolerable for these acts.

As it was, the film made a point about being trapped in social gender roles, and the deadly effect of violence perpetrated on women and children at the hands of the confused, angry, bruised male ego. The other issue anchoring the film's story - psychopathology, or according to DSM-IV-TR, antisocial personality disorder - served as a back drop to the main social commentary. There seemed to be a suggested link between the two issues, but it would be erroneous to think that an emasculated male ego would lead to psychopathic tendency. The former is a case of misdirected aggression, and the latter an inherent psychopathic tendency. In this review, I'd be focusing on psychopathy and masculinity as presented in the film, with a particular interest in the former.

Psychopathy has a long and fuzzy history in the field of psychology. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association, after vague changes in the span of their four versions, settles on Antisocial Personality Disorder as the equivalent to the term 'psychopathy' (Gurley, 2009). There are disputes to the category being a stand in for psychopathy, since anyone who breaks the law would only need to satisfy three behavioural criteria to meet the diagnosis. For example, having just these three rather common criminal behaviours would be enough (in addition to 'evidence' of a conduct disorder before age 15) to be called the equivalent of a psychopath: (1) failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest; (2) deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure; and (3) irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults. As you can see, it is not that difficult to achieve this diagnosis for your garden variety repeated criminal offenders, rendering the term 'psychopathy' meaningless in its severity and unique psychological properties. Furthermore, from a psychological point of view, psychopathy as it exists in the DSM points more towards the British tradition of defining personal abnormality in terms of social deviance and less towards the German idea of personal abnormalities causing personal or social distress (Blackburn, 2007).

In the field of forensic science, there are other sets of criteria being used to diagnose psychopathy, the most popular of which is the Hare Psychopathy Checklist (PCL-R). A score of 30 and above on the PCL-R would indicate a psychopathic diagnosis. Notably, many repeated criminal offenders score around 22, allowing a much more discriminating diagnosis for this serious disorder. The four-factor PCL-R addresses a couple of issues that researchers have criticized the DSM for not placing enough emphasis on: the lack of empathy coupled with superficial charms believed to be the core traits of a psychopath, and, to a certain extent, the more successful psychopaths who do not get caught breaking the law (i.e. the Wall Street psychopaths). The anxiety level of a psychopath is also quite low, and often assessed in addition to the checklists or DSM criteria. However, some brain damages (hippocampal and prefrontal) that would lead to lower stress reactivity have been linked with the unsuccessful psychopaths, but not successful (uncaught) ones (Ishikawa, Raine, Lencz, Bihrle, & LaCasse, 2001), suggesting some variations within the diagnosis. (For a fascinating recent controversy regarding psychopathic diagnosis in research, see Skeem & Cooke, 2010, the reply from Hare & Neumann, 2010, whose threatened lawsuit delayed Skeem & Cooke's paper from being published by 3 years, and the subsequent reply by Skeem & Cooke, 2010).

Murata exhibited all signs of a psychopath, regardless of which set of criteria you want to use for assessment: he was sexually coercive and precocious (sexual activities with multiple women), callous (dismembering human bodies with glee), deceitful (lying to his business partner), manipulative (with the wife and the daughter to get them to turn their father in), aggressive (beating Shamoto up), impulsive (going to see Shamoto's fish store in the middle of the night), reckless with safety for both himself and others (implored Shamoto to beat him up, then did not express much physical or emotional struggle/pain when hurt), completely lacking in remorse (no regrets or emotional pain about the lives he took), superficially charming (his exuberance was contagious and useful in getting others to carry out his will), emotionally shallow (laughed manically without feelings), exhibiting a grandiose sense of self (believing that he was giving the girls a better second life), etc. He took great risks even when cooperation would have been beneficial (murdering his right-hand man). Psychopaths have been shown to take great risks in hope of rewards and exhibit insensitivity to potentially negative consequences (Weber, Habel, Amunts, & Schneider, 2008). An Iowa gambling task study found that highly psychopathic subjects behaved similarly to patients with orbitofrontal lesions (van Honk, Hermans, Putman, Montagne, & Schutter, 2002). Lack of fear for or response to negative consequences (somatic marker hypothesis) and lack of emotional response or sensitivity to others' emotional distress (violence inhibition mechanism model) are thought to be hallmarks of psychopathy (Weber et al., 2008). Murata was also revealed, in the course of the film, to have a history of circumstances that might have contributed to his psychopathic expression: psychosocial (poor parenting, though it might not have been as impactful as the film led us to believe), temperamental (prone to react violently), and psychodynamic (pathological narcissism).

Other characters qualified for this profile include Mrs. Murata (Asuka Kurosawa) and Shamoto's daughter, Mitsuko (Hikari Kajiwara). Shamoto, however, was not a psychopath (or at least, not a developmental one), as evident by his emotional and fear responses (first, about the crimes committed, then, a reluctance to do what he could've done to his daughter), and an assumed lack of previous criminal offense. A psychopath would tend to show lower generalized emotional responsivity compared to non-psychopaths (Day & Wong, 1996). Psychopaths are able to only understand the literal (denotative) meaning of language, but not its emotional (connotative) significance (Cleckley, 1976). Brain studies have shown reduced activity in the amygdala (thought to respond to cues indicating distress in others) during emotional moral decision-making process (Glenn, Raine, & Schug, 2009). In addition, when faced with negative emotional situations (such as people being murdered), the psychopath would tend to use less of their right hemisphere for connotative-emotional processes and more of their left hemisphere for denotative-linguistic processes (Day & Wong, 1996). Victim's distress meant nothing for Murata, for example, whereas Shamoto reacted to his daughter's verbal responses. Furthermore, while Shamoto did commit sexual assault on his wife, he did not exhibit a tendency towards coercive and precocious sexuality, considered a fundamental aspect of psychopathy (Harris, Rice, Hilton, Lalumiere, & Quinsey, 2007).

What Shamoto may have become, albeit momentarily, was a hypermasculine response to the constant threats regarding his perceived/accused lack of masculinity. ‘Masculinity’ is a socially constructed concept, and the masculine attributes usually include physical strength or power, aggressiveness, and sexual potency (Beesley & McGuire, 2009). 'Hypermasculinity' is an exaggerated sense of male identity (Beesley & McGuire, 2009). Some studies (Vandello, Bosson, Cohen, Burnafold, & Weaver, 2008) have shown that the state of manhood - more so than womanhood - may be threatened with challenges to its masculinity, and men may react in a physically aggressive manner to this threat. In particular, insecure self-esteem - exhibited by Shamoto - may make one more vulnerable to threats of self-image (Baumeister, Smart, & Boden, 1996; Tedeschi, 1983). On a more psychodynamic level, the story bore some resemblance to the Greek mythological account of Oedipus, used by Sigmund Freud to develop his theory regarding the male ego. Oedipus killed his father and married his mother, and Freud believed on a symbolic level, this was part of the male ego development. In some ways, Murata took on the position of Shamoto's father as they role-played initially, and Shamoto eventually was forced to engage in sexual intercourse with Mrs. Murata.

Despite its penchant for violence and sexual violence, Cold Fish was an interesting look at the pure "id" incarnation of the male aggression, as the male ego struggled to develop itself (and failed). The under-developed male ego, in psychodynamic terms, was the culprit of the explosive expression of violent aggression in Shamoto (aided by a psychopath with undeveloped emotions). This was perhaps related to Japan's recent crisis of masculinity (Taga, 2006), the scope of which is beyond this essay (and this author's expertise). The black comedic aspect of the film allowed the audience a sort of protective wall against the madness - you can laugh, or you can be shocked into stupor at the terror unfolding. Sono mercifully chose the former, making Cold Fish a shocking but livable screen affair.


Baumeister, R. F., Heatherton, T. F., & Tice, D. M. (1993). When ego threats lead to self regulation failure: Negative consequences of high self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 64, 141-156.

Beesley, F., & McGuire, J. (2009). Gender-role identity and hypermasculinity in violent offending. Psychology, Crime & Law, 15(2&3), 251-268.

Blackburn, R. (2007). Personality disorder and psychopathy: conceptual and empirical integration. Psychology, Crime & Law, 13(1), 7-18.

Cleckley, H. C. (1976). The mask of sanity. St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

Day, R., & Wong, S. (1996). Anomalous perceptual asymmetries for negative emotional stimuli in the psychopath. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 105(4), 648-652.

Glenn, A., Raine, A., & Schug, R. A. (2009). The neural correlates of moral decision-making in psychopathy. Molecular Psychiatry, 14, 5-6.

Gurley, J. (2009). A history of changes to the criminal personality in the DSM. History of Psychology, 12(4), 285-304.

Hare, R. D., & Neumann, C. S. (2010). The role of antisociality in the psychopathy construct: comment on Skeem and Cooke (2010). Psychological Assessment, 22(2), 446-454.

Ishikawa, S. S., Raine, A., Lencz, T., Bihrle, S., & LaCasse, L. (2001). Autonomic stress reactivity and executive functions in successful and unsuccessful criminal psychopaths from the community. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 110, 423-432.

Skeem, J. L., & Cooke, D. J. (2010). Is criminal behavior a central component of psychopathy? Conceptual directions for resolving the debate. Psychological Assessment, 22(2), 433-445.

Skeem, J. L., & Cooke, D. J. (2010). One measure does not a construct make: directions toward reinvigorating psychopathy research - reply to Hare and Neumann (2010). Psychological Assessment, 22(2), 455-459.

Taga, F. (2006). Review of men and masculinities in contemporary Japan: Dislocating the Salaryman Doxa. Men and Masculinities, 9(1), 108-110.

Tedeschi, J.T. (1983). Social influence theory and aggression. In R.G. Geen, & E.I.
Donnerstein (Eds.), Aggression: Theoretical and empirical reviews Vol. 1 (pp. 135-162). New York: Academic Press.

van Honk, J., Hermans, E. J., Putman, P., Montagne, B., & Schutter, D. J. (2002). Defective somatic markers in sub-clinical psychopathy. Neuroreport, 13, 1025–1027.

van Honk, J., & Schutter, D. J. L. G. (2006). Unmasking feigned sanity: a neurobiological model of emotion processing in primary psychopathy. Cognitive neuropsychiatry, 11(3), 285-306.

Vandello, J. A., Bosson, J. K., Cohen, D., Burnafold, R. M., & Weaver, J. R. (2008). Precarious manhood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(6), 1325-1339.

Weber, S., Habel, U., Amunts, K., & Schneider, F. (2008). Structural brain abnormalities in psychopathy. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 26, 7-28.



VIFF 2010 capsule reviews: Barney's Version, Hahaha (Day 1)

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Barney's Version (Lewis, 2010) Canada.

Barney, a TV big wig sporting a caustic sense of humour and an insensitive persona, found the love of his life at the wedding to his second wife. It was not his wife to be (delightfully played by Minnie Driver); it was a guest in attendance, the radiant Miriam in blue (Rosamund Pike). What followed was a love story in the tradition of rom com's 'the one' mythology, with Paul Giamatti playing the role of the homely, cynical man wooing the sophisticated princess. The new romantic leading man in recent rom coms has only his unyielding love to offer and very few other qualities of note, but he would always end up inexplicably winning the love of some beautiful, complex leading lady. Barney's Version was created with the same conceit, framed from the perspective of an awestruck, self-sabotaging man. One never got the sense that Barney was in any way an equivalent or an equal partner to Miriam. His son even went so far as to state that Barney did not deserve Miriam in his life, a position the film never succeeded in dismissing, despite the attempt at trumping up his never-say-die love for Miriam. The cast members filled their roles in good spirit, but the film offered very little depth, originality or chemistry between the leads. Overly sentimental, and ultimately forgettable, Barney really did not need this version to be told.

Hahaha (Hong, 2010) Korea. 2010 Cannes winner - Prix Un Certain Regard (for "original and different" works)

Aspiring film director Moon-kyung and his friend, film critic Joong-sik, met up shortly before Moon-kyung left for Canada. They swapped stories of their recent trip to the seaside town of Tong-yeong over drinks. Along the way, despite their initial insistence on only skimping the pleasant surface of life, the two friends inadvertently ventured beyond the safety of their wading pool, providing us with a more complete picture of what happened to them over the summer. The two interweaving stories, told from Joong-sik's and Moon-kyung's perspective, were arranged in alternating sections, with each character taking turn stringing their interconnected experience together. The film gently made a case for our life story being a series of overlapping narratives. The meeting itself was presented in a series of freeze frames, as though the audience was rummaging through a photo book. Hong's honest but tolerant view of his characters' growth process made it possible for us to empathize with their struggle, however seemingly minute. The film offered an interesting peek at the Korean youth culture and its romantic aspirations, simultaneously poking fun at its naiveté and respecting its raison d'être. As a romantic comedy, it was as awkward, light-hearted and funny as their summer romance - certainly a welcomed fresh take on a genre overridden with cliché and conventions.



Recently Seen (out of *****)

  • One night in Miami (King, 2020) ***
  • Mank (Fincher, 2020) ***1/2
  • Coming 2 America (Brewer, 2021) **1/2
  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (Wolfe, 2020) ***1/2
  • I care a lot (Blakeson, 2020) **

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