Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Teasing and Bullying: Distinctions with a Difference

Writing for the New York Times Magazine, Cal-Berkeley psychology professor Dacher Keltner reminds us that teasing is not the same thing as bullying or harassment. The failure to distinguish teasing from more negative behaviors, and the resulting rejection of teasing as an appropriate social interaction, is emotionally and socially impoverishing for both children and adults. Regarding the former group, Dr. Keltner concludes:

In seeking to protect our children from bullying and aggression, we risk depriving them of a most remarkable form of social exchange. In teasing, we learn to use our voices, bodies and faces, and to read those of others — the raw materials of emotional intelligence and the moral imagination. We learn the wisdom of laughing at ourselves, and not taking the self too seriously. We learn boundaries between danger and safety, right and wrong, friend and foe, male and female, what is serious and what is not. We transform the many conflicts of social living into entertaining dramas. No kidding.

The loss of the ability to tease in constructive ways is also detrimental to adults, including romantic couples. He writes:

In seeking to protect our children from bullying and aggression, we risk depriving them of a most remarkable form of social exchange. In teasing, we learn to use our voices, bodies and faces, and to read those of others — the raw materials of emotional intelligence and the moral imagination. We learn the wisdom of laughing at ourselves, and not taking the self too seriously. We learn boundaries between danger and safety, right and wrong, friend and foe, male and female, what is serious and what is not. We transform the many conflicts of social living into entertaining dramas. No kidding.

The article is very much worth reading.

Hat Tip: Ann Althouse

2 Comments:

Blogger Lanette said...

It's important to understand the difference, and our jesting has a huge influence on the health of our relationship.

10:07 PM  
Anonymous Ani Mazmanyan said...

Thank you for reviewing Dr. Dacher Keltner's recent article published in the New York Times ("In Defense of Teasing")! Dr. Kelter is the Executive Editor of Greater Good, a quarterly magazine. Articles from the latest issue of Greater Good magazine are now online at our redesigned website, www.greatergoodmag.org! Please take a look!

This issue features a series of essays on trust--always a critical issue in an election year, especially in the midst of an economic crisis. Though trust is essential to families, friendships, governments, businesses, and even the global economy, it has been declining for years. This issue of Greater Good explores why trust is so important, and how we can rebuild it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Who do you trust?

In the lead essay, "America's Trust Fall," sociologist Pamela Paxton and Greater Good Senior Editor Jeremy Adam Smith explain why Americans have lost trust in their institutions and each other, why this is such a problem, and how they can learn to trust again.

Other contributors provide a variety of takes on trust, including:

TRUST IN SCIENCE. An interview with psychologist and author Steven
Pinker on why Americans trust scientists, and why that trust is in jeopardy.

TRUST IN POLITICS. First impressions of candidates can decisively shape
political elections, reports Anna J. Abramson. What does that say about
democracy?

THE BIOLOGY OF TRUST. Trust is not irrational or illusory, explains
Michael Kosfeld. It's a biologically-based part of human nature.

PARENT-CHILD TRUST. World-renowned psychologist Paul Ekman and his
daughter Eve discuss how parents can raise kids who are both trusting
and trustworthy.

BETRAYALS OF TRUST. Romantic betrayal is traumatizing, says psychologist Joshua Coleman. But here's how couples can learn to trust again.

Also in the issue: Daniel Goleman on social-emotional learning,
fostering forgiveness in Sierra Leone, the emotions behind global warming, and more!

You can find a full Table of Contents, as well as a form to subscribe to Greater Good, at http://www.greatergoodmag.org. You can also hear senior editor Jeremy Adam Smith discussing Greater Good's new trust issue on the public radio program Forum, which aired on NPR-member station KQED the day before Election Day. Listen at http://www.kqed.org/epArchive/R811031000


Forward to a Friend!
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Circulation Assistant

2:59 PM  

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