Perspectives: A Taboo Exchange; July / August 2010; Scientific American Mind; by Adam Waytz; 2 Page(s)
Consider the classic hypothetical: Your house is on fire, and you can rescue only three things before the structure is engulfed in flames. What would you take? Laptops and external hard drives aside, people’s responses to this question differ wildly—from a hand-scrawled love note to a valuable coin collection or even a threadbare T-shirt that anyone else would consider worthless.
The tendency to consider commonplace objects worthy of reverence and protection—to treat rookie cards like rosaries—is a universal human experience. Such powerful emotions are not rooted in any specific faith or belief system; nevertheless, they have a spiritual quality—and many psychologists use the term “sacred” to describe objects toward which people proclaim an unbounded or infinite commitment.