Jean Nicol

I'll do it tomorrow

One of the most bizarre psychological traits is the tendency to ignore a looming task or problem, beyond the point at which it could be dealt with easily.

Thursday, 6 April, 2006, 12:00am

Tickling the wrong funny bone

There has been a sudden jolt in an otherwise slow-motion smashing together of Europe's cultural tectonic plates. It started with the publishing, then reprinting, of cartoons satirising Islam and the Prophet Mohammed. Hotheads of every hue fanned the fire.

11 Feb 2006 - 12:00am

When love crosses borders

Mainland brides are not exactly flooding over the border to marry Hong Kong men. This newspaper reported recently that about 150 of them arrive each year. In the opposite direction, according to anecdotal evidence, the trend is older successful Hong Kong women. They are looking for their socio-economic equals outside the relatively small pool of potential husbands in Hong Kong.

8 Oct 2005 - 12:00am

A valid excuse for murder?

Aside from its more obvious tabloid appeal, the Kissel trial also raised issues at the point where criminal law meets psychology. That is, how do judges, jurors and prosecutors assess the emotional state of an alleged murderer at the time of the crime, and exactly what can and ought to be acceptable as a partial excuse?

10 Sep 2005 - 12:00am

Price of breaking the glass ceiling

Hong Kong's glass ceiling for women is set higher than in the rest of Asia - so say articles on the topic. But in the rest of the world, sexual discrimination is still rampant, particularly at the top. A recent study indicated that, in Europe, the higher up the corporate or political pecking order, the bigger the salary gap, averaging about 20 per cent.

21 May 2005 - 12:00am

Death and the depths of emotion

One odd thing about the highly 'psychologised' westerner is that he or she continues to be so influenced by Freud, while psychology professors can go through their entire career without giving him a passing thought. Take the standard western way to grieve, for example.

23 Apr 2005 - 12:00am

Clash of inner cultures

Being bicultural - that is, having internalised two 'living' sets of cultural norms - is not so rare these days, especially in places like Hong Kong. Expatriates, or even people working for a foreign company at home, can experience a mild version of the phenomenon. Others, often youngsters, fully absorb two cultures, language fluency and all.

14 Aug 2004 - 12:00am

Be creative - go against the flow

What makes a city a world city? One element everyone agrees on is creativity - including creative leadership. This is a hot topic these days and a pet interest of Robert Sternberg, president of the American Psychological Association.

2 Apr 2004 - 12:00am

Love's labours lost

Falling in love, western style, is one of the strongest feelings a person is likely to experience in his or her lifetime. Women are generally considered its chief custodians - or victims, depending on your politics. No longer. Romance has been pronounced dead by the chick-lit industry. Now, a glut of self-help guides is working on the post-mortem examination.

13 Feb 2004 - 12:00am

Are men smarter than women?

Intelligence is a subject close to every ambitious parent's heart. IQ testing tends to stir passionate responses among just about everyone, not least because studies regularly show differences between the sexes.

19 Dec 2003 - 12:00am

Getting the message too well

In affluent, consumerist societies such as Hong Kong, the average citizen is bombarded daily with attempts to sway him or her through advertising, public messages and appeals.

4 Jul 2003 - 12:00am

Depressed, or is your spleen melancholic?

An Asian worker 'falls ill' in the midst of a stressful period at work, perhaps a pivotal time involving negotiation and repeated conflict. To her western colleague, this can look fake, as if the worker is simply pretending to be sick to avoid coping with a difficult situation. From a psychological perspective, this typical Chinese pattern of reaction is thought of as 'somatising' emotions.

13 Jun 2003 - 12:00am

The pitfalls of the retirement myth

Can two people who have held down jobs and made it through the ups and downs of a lifelong marriage enjoy a blissful retirement together? Probably not. Hence the retired-couple cliche, with its undercurrent of boredom and blame.

23 May 2003 - 12:00am

Shopping for a new identity?

Hong Kong's favourite leisure activities are shopping, eating out and going to the cinema. So one would assume that consumerism is now a self-defining activity here, as it is in the United States. Is that why an economic downturn, which threatens purchasing power, can cause a mass identity crisis?

7 Mar 2003 - 12:00am

Understanding the need for war could help prevent it

Why is war so popular? All past civilisations have had wars, irrespective of their particular cultural assumptions and norms, so many people deduce that it must be an inevitable part of the human condition. It is convenient, of course, to think so because it helps to short-circuit guilt.

24 Jan 2003 - 12:00am