Currently viewing the tag: "justification"

Revenge Of Return Of The Jedi

Why was it that every villain had to have his obligatory speech before he blew everything to smithereens? -Tina Folsom, Amaury’s Hellion (Scanguards Vampires #2)

Writing Prompt: Write a monologue for a villain who is about to blow everything to smithereens.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a time when you heard or saw someone justifying something bad they were about to do.

Art Prompt: Villain
Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell a story about your favorite movie or book villain.

Photo Credit: JD Hancock on Flickr

Cheat ! (Edit 1)

Creative people are more likely to cheat than less creative people, possibly because this talent increases their ability to rationalize their actions, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

“Greater creativity helps individuals solve difficult tasks across many domains, but creative sparks may lead individuals to take unethical routes when searching for solutions to problems and tasks,” said lead researcher Francesca Gino, PhD, of Harvard University. –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Write a scene about someone who cheats. What is the inner monologue that the person goes through to rationalize the cheating?

Journaling Prompt: Write about a time you cheated. How did you rationalize it to yourself?

Art Prompt: Cheat

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the epidemic of cheating in society today and give some suggestions for curbing it.

Photo Credit: Craig Sunter on Flickr

The diary of a psychopath, day 1 (#15/365)

Psychopaths used more conjunctions like “because,” “since” or “so that,” implying that the crime “had to be done” to obtain a particular goal. They used twice as many words relating to physical needs, such as food, sex or money, while non-psychopaths used more words about social needs, including family, religion and spirituality. Unveiling their predatory nature in their own description, the psychopaths often included details of what they had to eat on the day of their crime.

Past as prologue: Psychopaths were more likely to use the past tense, suggesting a detachment from their crimes, say the researchers. They tended to be less fluent in their speech, using more “ums” and “uhs.” The exact reason for this is not clear, but the researchers speculate that the psychopath is trying harder to make a positive impression, needing to use more mental effort to frame the story. –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Write a monologue by a psychopath explaining their crime using the language cues above.

Journaling Prompt: Write about something that you feel guilty about.

Art Prompt: Criminal

Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt: Write about the psychopaths that are around us in everyday life.

Photo Credit: Sebastian Anthony on Flickr

Shafia safely handing over the 'pot' to the member

Why are some places more prone to bribery and corruption than others? Part of the answer seems to be the level of collective feeling in a society, according to research by Pankaj Aggarwal, University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) professor of marketing in the Department of Management, and Nina Mazar, University of Toronto professor of marketing.

Aggarwal and Mazar discovered that people in more collectivist cultures — in which individuals see themselves as interdependent and as part of a larger society — are more likely to offer bribes than people from more individualistic cultures. Their work suggests that people in collectivist societies may feel less individually responsible for their actions, and therefore less guilty about offering a bribe…

Adjusted for wealth, the degree of collectivism in a country predicted just how likely a business person was to offer a bribe to a business partner.

It’s not that those business people saw bribes as acceptable — other surveys have shown that bribery is widely seen as morally repugnant across cultures… –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Create a situation in which your character must use bribery to achieve his or her goal.

Journaling Prompt: Have you ever resorted to bribery? If not money, perhaps you’ve used chocolate? Hmmm?

Art Prompt: Bribery
Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about how customs surrounding bribery affect culture.

Photo Credit: imtfi on Flickr



Thanks to Sue Ann Bowling for sharing this quotation!

“If you want to make your enemy into something you can hate, you first remove his humanity.” Mercedes Lackey, Storm Warning

Writing Prompt: Create some inner dialogue for a character who dehumanizes someone in order to rationalize hating them.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a time when you rationalized hating someone.

Art Prompt: Hatred

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about how people are taught to hate. Encourage them to challenge their own perceptions by humanizing the hated person/group.

Photo Credit: Furryscaly on Flickr

cliff diving

Are your friends a bad influence on you? 

The rewards outweigh the risks — when you’re in a group, anyway. A new USC study explains why people take stupid chances when all of their friends are watching that they would never take by themselves. According to the study, the human brain places more value on winning in a social setting than it does on winning when you’re alone.

“These findings suggest that the brain is equipped with the ability to detect and encode social signals, make social signals salient, and then, use these signals to optimize future behavior,” Coricelli said.
As Coricelli explained, in private environments, losing can more easily be life-threatening. With no social support network in place, a bad gamble can spell doom.

In group environments, on the other hand, rewards tend to be winner-takes-all. Nowhere is this more clear than in sexual competition, where — to borrow a phrase from racing legend Dale Earnhardt, Sr. — second place is just first loser.

“Among animals, there are strong incentives for wanting to be at the top of the social ranking,” Coricelli said. “Animals in the dominant position use their status to secure privileged access to resources, such as food and mates.” –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Write a scene that demonstrates the subtle peer pressure of making decisions in a group.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a time that you made a risky decision that was influenced by the presence of a group of friends.

Art Prompt: Risky decisions

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell a story about a time when you made a risky decision.

Photo Credit: Dana on Flickr

stock trader

What kind of person chooses to harm others. Sure, psychopaths do. People with anger issues, yep. But who would have guessed this one?

“Various studies have suggested that a certain kind of psychological profile gravitates toward the fast-paced, high-pressure environment of the trading floor — and that this profile probably has more than a little in common with psychopathic personality, a clinical condition marked by gregariousness, impulsiveness, dishonesty and lack of empathy.

“A recent study from the University of St. Gallen, in Switzerland, goes one step further. The research, led by forensics expert Pascal Scherrer and prison administrator Thomas Noll, finds that professional stock traders actually outperform diagnosed psychopaths when it comes to competitive and risk-taking behavior.

“According to Der Spiegel, Scherrer and Noll had a group of 28 stockbrokers participate in various simulations and intelligence tests, and then compared their results to a group of psychopaths.
“They found that the traders showed a higher degree of competitiveness than the psychopaths — and that the traders were surprisingly willing to cause harm to their competitors if they thought it would bring them an advantage.” –Huffington Post

Writing Prompt: Write about a character who is not evil, but chooses to harm another person. What are the circumstances and emotions involved?

Journaling Prompt: Write about a time you made a choice knowing that it would hurt another person.

Art Prompt: Stock broker

Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt: Write about the effect of competitive jobs on people’s ethics.

Photo Credit: Mike Baird on Flickr


lost girl

Everyone has flaws. Most of us have mental flaws: thoughts that niggle at us and hold us back from acting on our dreams. Any good hero must face their flaws and overcome them in order to engage the reader in their journey. Villains, too, have mental flaws. Here is a secret about one way to write these flaws:

An assumed constraint is a belief, based on past experience, that limits current and future experiences… Indicators that an assumed constraint may be holding you hostage are negative internal dialogue, excuses, and blaming statements. -Ken Blanchard, Leading at a Higher Level, Revised and Expanded Edition: Blanchard on Leadership and Creating High Performing Organizations
Writing Prompt: Make a list of your protagonist’s assumed constraints. How are each of these shown by his actions and dialogue? How are they driving your story?
Journaling Prompt: Write about one of your assumed constraints and how you would like to challenge it.

Art Prompt: Excuses

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about assumed constraints and how they can overcome them.

Photo Credit: Helga Weber on Flickr

one laptop per child

People are very complicated, rather than all bad or all good. Even a “good” character may base their behavior on whether they think others will see the consequences of their actions.

…people tend to make decisions on the basis of their self-image. If they believe themselves to be “fair” or “generous,” for example, they avoid actions that are clearly egoistic in nature, so as to avoid contradicting their own self-image. However, if… they are able to ignore the consequences for other people, they find it easier to maintain a positive self-image, even if they their behaviour is selfish. “If the consequences are clearly visible, many participants decide to act fairly,” reports Astrid Matthey: “However, if it is possible to ignore the consequences, it is clearly more difficult to opt for a ‘generous’ decision, and many change their behaviour and select the egoistic alternative.” –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Explore how your characters justify their actions and why. 

Journaling Prompt: How do other people observing you affect your decisions?

Art Prompt: Self-image
Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Talk about motivation in decision making and how appearances affect what we choose to do.

Photo Credit: One Laptop per Child on Flickr