Mind Reads; April/May 2006; Scientific American Mind; by Richard Lipkin, Ken Aizawa, Kenneth Silber; 2 Page(s)
Each of us has experienced a feeling of kinship with someone who shares a love of chocolate, a passion for foreign films, or perhaps an affinity for a person with the same skin color or ethnic identity. We might also feel alienated from someone with the same qualities if he or she belongs to a "group" we do not like.
But what exactly is this seemingly natural tendency to sort others into "kinds"? This question forms the core of Us and Them, which explores the conscious and unconscious ways in which people classify one another--and more important--why. How humans can use this propensity constructively, rather than destructively, remains a central issue of our time, argues David Berreby, a veteran science journalist. Although this penchant may be hardwired into our brains, ultimately we choose how to live. Religious strife, political conflict and clan rivalries boil down to individual behavior.