Assistant Professor of Psychology Matthew Gingo says he has always enjoyed “people watching” and trying to make sense of what they do. He’s particularly interested in understanding the ways in which people lie and deceive each other. The First-Year Seminar (FYS) he offered last fall for aspiring leaders—from potential senators to football coaches—gave him and his students the perfect opportunity to explore the use of deceptive tactics and to determine how to see through to the truth of what matters. The title in and of itself was enough to intrigue the Quarterly to want to know more—“Cognition in the Wild: The Psychology of Bullsh*t, and Other Deceptive Tactics for Future Senators and CEOs.”
Tell us about what you explored in your FYS.
The course was designed around the idea that with all the information and misinformation that we are inundated with on a daily basis, we need to become discerning consumers of information. And that with the right approach, we could see through the cloud of B.S. that seems to hover over some of our most important issues. We focused on examining deception in a systematic and psychological way. Who lies to whom about what? Why do we lie? What are the telltale signs? When do we think deception is warranted, and why? The students in the class were really motivated, which meant that we got to consider those questions from a number of perspectives—from Kant and Bok, to the most current empirical articles on micro-expressions and cultural subversion. It was pretty cool. [Read more...]