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    Start of the lecture series “Ist die Welt schlecht? Is the world bad?”  

    „Is the world bad?“ is the main question within the lecture series organized by Prof. Rolf van Dick with the contribution of friends and supporters of Goethe University and funded by the Grunelius Foundation. When we watch the news, read the newspaper or screen the social media, we are confronted with disasters, crises and terrorism. And this can easily lead to the impression that the world is getting worse and worse and that everything was better in the past. However, a lot has changed to the better over the past years. The aim of this lecture series is to put things into perspective and to look at the positive side and at the advancements that we have made in the past years.

    The start of the lecture series was made by Prof. William von Hippel, who visited the Goethe University from May 20th to 22nd. During his permanence in Frankfurt, he gave a talk about „The social leap“, from which he offered some ideas to answer the important question: „ Is the world bad?“. Prof. William von Hippel received his PhD in social psychology at the University of Michigan. He then was an assistant and associate professorship at Ohio State University. Currently, he is Professor of Psychology at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. His research interests include evolutionary psychology, executive functioning and social competences.


    During his stay, Prof. William von Hippel met up with PhD students, postdocs and professors from different departments of the Goethe University. For example, he discussed research questions with members of the Department of Psychology, had meetings with members of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration and exchanged ideas with members of the Department of Management and Microeconomics. Besides personal meetings, several small group meetings took place like a stimulating discussion with the interdisciplinary collaborative network “Resilience Factors in a diachronic and intercultural perspective” where researchers from archaeology, psychology and life sciences examine which factors enable individuals, smaller or larger collectives to cope with stressful situation in the past.

    The highlight of his visit at the Goethe University was his talk about “The social leap”. He began his talk from the evolution of our distant ancestors that encouraged a “social leap” from the rainforest to the savannah. Indeed, they prioritized teamwork over physical competences in their struggle for survival, creating a new form of social intelligence that shaped humanity’s way from the apex predator. He then built a bridge between our evolutionary history over the last 6 million years and some of the fundamental aspects of our lives today. For example, he highlighted how cooperation and kindness make us more effective killers, indicating that this can be seen both as a threat and as an opportunity. In addition, he theorized how for example with the aid of modern medicine and knowledge about the environment, the world got cleaner and safer and people became healthier and older. He concluded his inspiring talk with possible explanations about the reasons why people are not so much happier even though the world has progressively become better.

    Altogether, it was an interesting and inspiring visit and a great start for the lecture series which was made possible by the association of Goethe University’s friends and supporters and the Grunelius Foundation who supported this lecture series - without their financial support this event would not have been possible. Many contacts were made and collaborations were planned for further projects. Prof. William von Hippel concluded that he had enjoyed his stay in Frankfurt very much and that he would like to come back during his sabbatical next year.


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    Mikael Arevius from the Gapminder Foundation (perhaps better known for the book "Factfulness" by Hans Rosling et al.) will give a lecture "For a fact-based worldview" on the 4th of June, 2019 at 6:30 pm in Hörsaal 10 at the Westend Campus.

    Here is a short abstract for his talk:

    "The Swedish foundation Gapminder has been working over a decade to explain the world through making people understand and use statistics. Gapminder has been addressing the problem that most people don’t see the progress made in the world despite the statistics being open data. First, we explore what we don’t know to break through the misconceptions we have about the world and show how we often answer more wrong than random on simple global fact questions where the data exists as open data. Then we create visualizations, frameworks and narratives that help people see the unseen facts about the world. During my presentation, I will go through Gapminder's misconception study and showcase Gapminder's tools and frameworks. It is a crash course on the global facts most people have missed."

    Participation in the event and following reception is free of charge.

    For registration, please send an email to gastprofessur@psych.uni-frankfurt.de. Registration deadline is May 26th, 2019.

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    As part of the lecture series "Is the world bad?" will Prof. William von Hippel give a talk about "The social leap" on the 21st of June, 2019.

    The most fundamental aspects of our psychology were shaped by the „social leap“ our distant ancestors made from the rainforest to the savannah. In their struggle to survive on the open grassland, our ancestors prioritized cooperation and teamwork over physical prowess, creating a new form of social intelligence that set the stage for our rise to the top of the food chain. Their social solution to this existential crisis also put us on the pathway that eventually created the unprecedentedly safe and peaceful lives we enjoy today. In this talk, I trace our evolutionary history over the last six million years to show how events in our distant past guide our lives today, and how we can leverage an understanding of the past to build a better future.

    The lectures will take place at 6:30 p.m. in lecture hall 10 at the Hörsaalzentrum on campus Westend of the Goethe University Frankfurt. Further information on the lecture series and the lectures can be found here.

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    February 17th, 2019 Früher war alles besser?


    Früher war alles besser?!? Die hr Sendung "defacto" geht dieser Annahme auf den Grund - mit einen Beitrag von Prof. Rolf van Dick. Die Sendung finden sie hier.

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    Rolf van Dick published a chapter on "Artificial intelligence in the workplace". Here you can find the publication.

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    Sorry, this entry is only available in Deutsch.

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