Meditating Monks On Pongour Falls, Vietnam by Photograph by Dang Ngo (prints available here: http://www.dangngo.com/)
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
The Danxia landform, southwest China.
Tadpoles swim through a jungle of lily stalks in Cedar Lake, Vancouver Island, Canada. Credit to Eiko Jones and National Geographic.
The enduring legacy of ancient human ingenuity.
The amount of things to see and do in the world can be overwhelming at times. Even within my hometown of Miami, Florida, USA, there is still much left for me to explore. Then there’s the state of Florida and all its varied offerings, then the entirety of the US and all its cultural and geographic diversity, and then the wider world of over 200 other countries and territories.
Even the smallest cities have so much to take in and see, let alone entire countries, continents, and the world. I’m lucky to even be able to learn about these places, given how much is out there. Every photo, article, video, or personal account only whets my appetite for more personal exploration. If only traveling and studying was a paying job.
In any case, this wanderlust will certainly spur me to get to work on pursuing my career in diplomacy and international public administration, the closest I’ll come to making the world a part of my everyday life.
What seems to be an impenetrable and immutable industry actually isn’t. Granted that changing mindsets might be hard — and you might have to strip down to your bra and panties for the occasion — but character, confidence and fortitude always shine through.
In a series of studies, Epley and Whitchurch showed that we see ourselves as better looking than we actually are. The researchers took pictures of study participants and, using a computerized procedure, produced more attractive and less attractive versions of those pictures. Participants were told that they would be presented with a series of images including their original picture and images modified from that picture. They were then asked to identify the unmodified picture. They tended to select an attractively enhanced one.
Epley and Whitchurch showed that people display this bias for themselves but not for strangers. The same morphing procedure was applied to a picture of a stranger, whom the study participant met three weeks earlier during an unrelated study. Participants tended to select the unmodified picture of the stranger.
People tend to say that an attractively enhanced picture is their own, but Epley and Whitchurch wanted to be sure that people truly believe what they say. People recognize objects more quickly when those objects match their mental representations. Therefore, if people truly believe that an attractively enhanced picture is their own, they should recognize that picture more quickly, which is exactly what the researchers found.
Inflated perceptions of one’s physical appearance is a manifestation of a general phenomenon psychologists call “self-enhancement.” Researchers have shown that people overestimate the likelihood that they would engage in a desirable behavior, but are remarkably accurate when predicting the behavior of a stranger. For example, people overestimate the amount of money they would donate to charity while accurately predicting others’ donations. Similarly, people overestimate their likelihood to vote in an upcoming presidential election, while accurately predicting others’ likelihood to vote.
Lake Tekapo, New Zealand.
Abandoned fishing hut in Germany.
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