Category: cognition

Successful and Schizophrenic

ELYN SAKS, professor of law, USC Gould School of Law.

This op-ed originally appeared in the New York Times on Jan. 25

Thirty years ago, I was given a diagnosis of schizophrenia. My prognosis was “grave”: I would never live independently, hold a job, find a loving partner, get married. My home would be a board-and-care facility, my days spent watching TV in a day room with other people debilitated by mental illness. I would work at menial jobs when my symptoms were quiet. Following my last psychiatric hospitalization at the age of 28, I was encouraged by a doctor to work as a cashier making change. If I could handle that, I was told, we would reassess my ability to hold a more demanding position, perhaps even something full-time.

Why Does CEO Mean White Male?

K.C. COLE, professor of journalism, USC Annenberg.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Oct. 18.

A pedestrian holding a map approaches you and asks for directions. You engage in a short conversation, which is briefly interrupted when two workers walk between you carrying a door. A second later, you continue your conversation.

What you don’t notice is that the pedestrian is now someone else. Yep, that’s right: A different person took his place when the door passed between you. And you didn’t even notice. In fact, fully 50% of people who participated in this 1998 experiment by psychologist Daniel Simons were blind to the switch.

The Shrinking World of Responsibility

JOHN MONTEROSSO, associate professor of psychology, USC Dornsife, and BARRY SCHWARTZ, professor of psychology, Swarthmore.

This op-ed originally appeared in the New York Times.

Are you responsible for your behavior if your brain “made you do it”?

Often we think not. For example, research now suggests that the brain’s frontal lobes, which are crucial for self-control, are not yet mature in adolescents. This finding has helped shape attitudes about whether young people are fully responsible for their actions. In 2005, when the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty for juveniles was unconstitutional, its decision explicitly took into consideration that “parts of the brain involved in behavior control continue to mature through late adolescence.”