New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2007‒06‒18
two papers chosen by
Daniela Raeva

  1. Characterizing the elephant: some thoughts on the future of cognitive style research   By Cools, E.; Van den Broeck, H.
  2. The Mirror-Neuron Paradox: How Far is Sympathy from Compassion, Indulgence, and Adulation? By Khalil, Elias

  1. By: Cools, E.; Van den Broeck, H.
    Abstract: Considerable attention has been devoted to cognitive styles since the beginning of the previous century. Cognitive styles are extensively studied in diverse research domains. This large interest led to a wide diversity of cognitive style theories and studies. The development of the cognitive style field shows some similarity with the story of the ‘blind men and the elephant’, with researchers tending to study only one part of the whole, but none with full understanding. The aim of this article is to build further on previous suggestions for the advancement of the cognitive style field by focusing on six relevant, critical issues in the area of the theory, the measurement, and the practical relevance of cognitive styles: (1) the need for conceptual clarification to situate cognitive styles in the individual differences field, (2) the need for an overarching, contextualized individual differences model, (3) towards longitudinal, contextual research designs to find the origins of cognitive style, (4) the search for the fundamental cognitive style dimensions in the myriad of cognitive style models, (5) an evolution from self-report questionnaires to multi-source, multi-method approaches, and (6) bridging the relevance gap by different approaches of knowledge creation and knowledge dissemination. On the basis of an overview of past and present cognitive style research, we purport to suggest an agenda for future research in the field of cognitive styles. Ideally, cognitive style research evolves towards a ‘pragmatic science’, which combines high theoretical rigour with high practical relevance.
    Keywords: cognitive styles, review, future research agenda
    Date: 2007–06–16
  2. By: Khalil, Elias
    Abstract: The mirror-neuron system (MNS) becomes instigated when the spectator empathizes with the principal’s intention. MNS also involves imitation, where empathy is irrelevant. While the former may attenuate the principal’s emotion, the latter paradoxically reinforces it. This paper proposes a solution of the contradictory attenuation/reinforcement functions of fellow-feeling by distinguishing two axes: “rationality axis” concerns whether the action is efficient or suboptimal; “intentionality axis” concerns whether the intention is “wellbeing” or “evil.” The solution shows how group solidarity differs from altruism and fairness; how revulsion differs from squeamishness; how malevolence differs from selfishness; and how racial hatred differs from racial segregation.
    Keywords: Adam Smith; David Hume; Fellow-Feeling; Desire; Paris Hilton; Animal Rights; Comprehension; Understanding (empathy); Imitation; Status Inequality; Elitism; Authority; Pity: Obsequiousness; Racial Segregation; Racial Hatred; Rationality; Intentionality; Propriety; Impropriety; Revulsion; Stigler’s Crankcase Oil Problem; Social Preferences; Altruism; Assabiya (group solidarity); Fairness; Theory of Evil (spite/malevolence)
    JEL: D69 D01
    Date: 2007–06–11

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