When Guilt Is Good
In a world that is growing more divided and atomized, it may be guilt-not empathy- that can bring people together.
APRIL 2018 ISSUE
A FEW YEARS AGO, researchers in Germany set out to plumb the moral consciences of small children. They invited a series of 2-and 3-year olds to play with a marble track in a lab.
Close to the track—inauspiciously close—was a block tower that one of the adult experimenters claimed to have painstakingly constructed. Just before turning her back, she asked them not to damage it
Needless to say, the game was rigged. After a few runs, a marble would knock over part of the tower, at which point the experimenter responded with what the resulting journal article described as a "mildly sad" tone. "Oh no," she would say, then ask what had happened.
In some versions of the experiment, the child seemed to be to blame; in others, an adult who was helping with the experiment toppled the tower. The kids' reactions revealed a lot about how social-emotional development progresses during these key years. While many of the 2-year-olds seemed sympathetic to the researcher's plight, the 3-year-olds went beyond sympathy. When they believed that they'd caused the accident, they were more likely than the 2-year-olds to express regret and try to fix the tower. In other words, the 3-year-olds behavior varied depending on whether they felt responsible.
Their actions, according to Amrisha Vaish, the University of Virginia psychology researcher who led the study, demonstrate the beginnings of real guilt and real conscience." Vaish is one of a number of scholars studying how, when, and why guilt emerges in children. Unlike so-called basic emotions such as sadness, fear, and anger, guilt emerges a little later, in conjunction with a child's growing grasp of social and moral norms. Children aren't born knowing how to say "I' m sorry"; rather, they learn over time that such statements appease parents and friends--and their own consciences. This is why researchers generally regard so called moral guilt, in the right amount, to be a good thing: A child who claims responsibility for knocking over a tower and tries to rebuild it is engaging in behavior that's not only reparative but also prosocial.
In the popular imagination, of course, guilt still gets a bad rap. It evokes Freud's ideas and religious hang-ups. More important, guilt is deeply uncomfortable, it's the emotional equivalent of wearing a jacket weighted with stones. Who would inflict it upon a child? Yet this understanding is outdated. "There has been a kind of revival or a rethinking about what guilt is and what role guilt can serve," Vaish says, adding that this revival is part of a larger recognition that emotions aren't binary- feelings that may be advantageous in one context may be harmful in another. Jealousy and anger, for example, may have evolved to alert us to important inequalities. Too much happiness (think mania) can be destructive.
And guilt, by prompting us to think more deeply about our goodness, can encourage humans to atone for errors and fix relationships. Guilt, in other words, can help hold a cooperative species together. It is a kind of social glue.
Viewed in this light, guilt is an opportunity. Work by Tina Malti, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto, suggests that guilt may compensate for an emotional deficiency. In a number of studies, Malti and others have shown that guilt and sympathy (and its close cousin empathy) may represent different pathways to cooperation and sharing. Some kids who are low in sympathy may make up for that shortfall by experiencing more guilt, which can rein in their nastier impulses. And vice versa: High sympathy can substitute for low guilt.
In a 2014 study, for example, Malti and a colleague looked at 244 children, ages 4, 8, and 12. Using caregiver assessments and the children's self-observations, they rated each child s overall sympathy level and his or her tendency to feel negative emotions (like. guilt and sadness) after moral transgressions. Then the kids were handed stickers and chocolate coins, and given a chance to share them with an anonymous child. For the low-sympathy kids, how much they shared appeared to turn on how inclined they were to feel guilty. The guilt- prone ones shared more, even though they hadn't magically become more sympathetic to the other child s deprivation.
"That's good news," Malti says. "We can be prosocial because of our empathetic proclivity, or because we caused harm and we feel regret."
Malti describes guilt as a self- directed emotion, elicited when you act in a way that's out of keeping with your conscience. Sympathy and empathy are other-directed. A child who isn't inclined to feel bad for a classmate whose toy car she stole might nevertheless feel uncomfortable with the idea of herself as a thief-and return the toy. Guilt can include sympathy, Malti says, but it doesn't have to. She's agnostic about which of the two paths children take, so long as they treat one another well.
This is a provocative idea at a moment when parents and educators have come to almost fetishize empathy-when a child's ability to put herself in another's shoes seems like the apex of goodness. Parents encourage children to consider how their peers feel when they don't share their toys, Preschool teachers instruct students to consider one another “friends“, implying that good behavior is predicated on affection. Elementary schools base anti-bullying curricula around altruistic concepts like love and kindness.
When it comes to helping kids manage relationships and tamp down aggression, “schools” and programs have almost exclusively focused on empathy promotion," Malti says. "I think it's incredibly important to nurture empathy but I think it's equally important to promote guilt.
IF you still find the idea of guilting your child unpalatable, keep in mind that we're talking about a very specific kind of guilt. This is not telling your child that her disobedience proves she's unworthy, or describing how painful it was to give birth to her. This is not pressuring your grown son or daughter to hurry up and have babies before you die. In short, this is not your grandmother's guilt-trip.
You don't want a child to feel bad about who she is (that's called shaming) or responsible for things outside her control (which can give rise to maladaptive or neurotic guilt; see the child who feels guilty for her parents' divorce). Malti points out that a child's age and disposition are also important considerations; some may be temperamentally guilt prone and require a lighter touch. The point is to encourage both goodness and resilience. We all make mistakes, and ideally we use them to propel ourselves toward better behavior.
Proper guilting connects the dots between your child's actions and an outcome without suggesting anything is wrong or bad about her-and focuses on how best to repair the harm she s caused In one fell swoop it inspires both guilt and empathy or what Martin
Hoffman, an emeritus professor at NYU known for his extensive work on empathy, has
termed empathy-based guilt. Indeed, you may already be guilting your child (in a healthy way!) without realizing it. As in: Look, your brother is crying because you just
threw his Beanie Boo in the toilet. Hopefully, the kid is moved to atone for her behavior.
and a parent might help her think through how to do that.
Work by Renee Patrick, a psychology professor at the University of Tampa, shows that it's important for parents to express themselves in a warm and loving way: a parent who seems chastising or rejecting can induce anxiety in a child, and do nothing to encourage healthy behavior. Patrick s work also shows that kids whose parents used a strategy intended to elicit "empathy based guilty" during their adolescence tended to see moral concepts like fairness and honesty as more central to their sense of themselves. (a related technique that' s been found effective in adolescents involves what Patrick calls "parental expression of disappointed expectations"--which is as harrowing as it sounds.)
Joan Grusec, a psychologist and researcher in parenting and children s development, and a colleague of Malti's at the University of Toronto, says it's important to make the what-you-can-do-about-it part a discussion between parent and child, instead of a sermon. Forcing a child to behave morally may prevent her from internalizing the lesson you're trying to impart. And, she says, such a conversation may work better "once everybody has simmered down, "rather than in the heat of a dispute. she points to research on what academics call reminiscence, which suggests that discussing a transgression after the fact may better help children understand what they did wrong.
Of course, knowing when to feel bad and what to do about it are things we could all benefit from. Malti's research may focus on kids, but guilt is a core human emotion-an inevitability for people of every age. And she believes that it has the potential to be especially helpful now, in a world that is growing more divided and atomized.
She argues that guilt may have the ability to bring us together, not despite but because of its focus on the self. The proposition is radical. What if the secret to treating one another better is thinking about ourselves not less, but more?
This article appears in the April 2018 print edition with the headline "How to Guilt-Trip Your Kids."
21. 【题干】Researchers think that guilt can be a good thing because it may help _______.
A.regulate a child's basic emotions
B.improve a child's intellectual ability
C.foster a child's moral development
D.intensify a child's positive feelings
【解析】根据题干“researchers”,“guilt”,“a good thing”关键词定位到第一段最后一句，除此之外，提干中还有关键词“because”, 判定该题属于细节题中考查因果逻辑关系的题目，需要在原文中精准回文定位;原文中第一段最后一段明确出现了“This is why researchers generally regard so-called moral guilt...a good thing.”根据代词向前文指代的原则，题干中所问的原因就在上一句，由“Children aren't born knowing how to say 'I'm sorry', rather, they learn over time that such statements appease parents and friends----and their own conscience”，其中的“such statements appease parents and friends----and their own conscience”(该品质能够使父母/朋友和孩子自己都感觉更舒适)，such statements指代的即为“say sorry”或文章主题词guilt, 纵观四个选型，只有C选项foster a child's moral development(提高孩子的道德发展)可以实现同义替换，故为正确答案。其余选项A.regulate a child's basic emotions (管理孩子基本情绪)中的regulate原文未提及， B.improve a child's intellectual ability(改善孩子的智力)中intellectual ability原文未提及，而D.intensify a child's positive feelings(加强孩子的积极感觉)在原文中未提及，故排除。
22. 【题干】According to Paragraph 2, many people still consider guilt to be _______.
【解析】根据题干可知这是一个典型的细节题。根据题干关键信息 “paragraph 2, “ many people still consider guild to be”定位到第二段，最终锁定对本段第二句话的理解，尤其关键的是对第二句话中破折号的理解，“it is deeply uncomfortable—it's the emotional equivalent of wearing a jacket weighted with stones. ” (这种感觉非常不舒服，就像穿着一件石头做的夹克一样), 对比所给四个选项，只有 B 项“burdensome”(负担沉重的，繁重的)与原文表述一致，故为最佳答案。 A项“deceptive” (欺骗的) C项“addictive”(上瘾的)以及D项“inexcusable” (不可原谅的)均与原文表述不一致，故排除。
23. 【题干】Vaish holds that the rethinking about guilt comes from an awareness that _______.
A.emotions are context-independent
B.emotions are socially constructive
C.emotional stability can benefit health
D.an emotion can play opposing roles
【解析】根据题干可知这是一个典型的细节题。根据题干关键信息“Vaish holds that …awareness that.” 定位本文的第二段“There has been a kind of revival or a rethinking …can serve.”但是这句话是他的观点句，也就是题干信息所在句，本句没有答案，因此，根据线性思维，下文他又继续补充到“adding that this revival is a psychology researcher…..in another ”(这种复兴是更大的认识的一部分，即情绪不是二元情感，在一个情境中有利的情绪在另一个情境中可能是有害的)，对比四个选项，只有D“an emotion can play opposing roles”(情绪可以起到相反的作用)为最佳答案。A项“emotions are context-independent”(情绪与语境无关)与原文表述相反。B 项“emotions are socially constructive”(从社会角度讲，情绪具有积极性)在文中没有提及。C项“emotional stability can benefit health”(情绪稳定有益与身体健康)在文中没有提及，故排除。
24. 【题干】Malti and others have shown that cooperation and sharing _______.
A.may help correct emotional deficiencies
B.can result from either sympathy or guilt
C.can bring about emotional satisfaction
D.may be the outcome of impulsive acts
【解析】根据题干可知这是一道人物观点题。根据题干关键词“Malti and others have shown 与cooperation and sharing.”回文定位到第四段第三句：“Malti and others have shown that guilt and sympathy may represent different pathways to cooperation and sharing.” (马尔蒂和其他人已经表明，内疚和同情可能代表了合作和分享的不同途径。) 对比四个选项，只有B项 can result from either sympathy or guilt(要么归因于同情，要么归因于内疚)与原文表述一致，故为正确选项。A项may help correct emotional deficiencies(可能有助于改正情感缺陷)与第四段第二句话… that guilt may compensate for an emotional deficiency(内疚可能会弥补情感缺陷)不符。C项can bring about emotional satisfaction(能够带来情感上的满足)并未提及。D项may be the outcome of impulsive acts (可能是冲动行为的结果) 与第四段第三句…which can rein in their nastier impulses(这可以控制他们更糟糕的冲动)因果倒置，故排除。
25. 【题干】The word “transgressions” (Line 4, Para. 5) is closest in meaning to _______.
【解析】根据题干要求定位到第五段第二句话“Using caregiver assessments and the children's self-observations, she rated each child's overall sympathy level and his or her tendency to feel negative emotions after moral transgressions.”且位于主句的“transgressions”的前面出现to feel negative emotions，情感属于消极贬义。对比四个选项，D项wrongdoings坏事，不道德的行为，属于贬义词，与其情感色彩一致，故为正确选项。A项teachings教导，属于褒义词。B项discussions讨论，属于中性词。C项restrictions 限制;约束，属于中性词，故排除。
Using Forests to Fight Climate Change
Forests give us shade, quiet and one of the harder challenges in the fight against climate change. Even as we humans count on forests to soak up a good share of the carbon dioxide we produce, we are threatening their ability to do so. The climate change we are hastening could one day leave us with forests that emit more carbon than they absorb.
Thankfully, there is a way out of this trap-but it involves striking a subtle balance, Helping forests flourish as valuable "carbon sinks" long into the future may require reducing their capacity to sequester carbon now. California is leading the way, as it does on so many climate efforts, in figuring out the details.
The state's proposed Forest Carbon Plan aims to double efforts to thin out young trees and clear brush in parts of the forest, including by controlled burning. This temporarily lowers carbon-carrying capacity. But the remaining trees draw a greater share of the available moisture, so they grow and thrive, restoring the forest's capacity to pull carbon from the air. Healthy trees are also better able to fend off bark beetles. The landscape is rendered less combustible. Even in the event of a fire, fewer trees are consumed.
The need for such planning is increasingly urgent. Already, since 2010, drought and beetles have killed more than 100 million trees in California, most of them in 2016 alone, and wildfires have scorched hundreds of thousands of acres.
California's plan envisions treating 35,000 acres of forest a year by 2020, and 60,000 by 2030 financed from the proceeds of the state's emissions-permit auctions. That's only a small share of the total acreage that could benefit, an estimated half a million acres in all, so it will be important to prioritize areas at greatest risk of fire or drought.
The strategy also aims to ensure that carbon in woody material removed from the forests is locked away in the form of solid lumber burned as biofuel in vehicles that would otherwise run on fossil fuels. Or used in compost or animal feed. New research on transportation biofuels is under way, and the state plans to encourage lumber production close to forest lands. In future the state proposes to take an inventory of its forests' carbon-storing capacity every five years.
State governments are well accustomed to managing forests, including those owned by the U.S. Forest Service, but traditionally they're focused on wildlife, watersheds and opportunities for recreation. Only recently have they come to see the vital part forests will have to play in storing carbon. California's plan, which is expected to be finalized by the governor early next year, should serve as a model.
To contact the senior editor responsible for Bloomberg View's editorials: David Shipley email@example.com
26. 【题干】By saying “one of the harder challenges ,”the author implies that_________.
A.global climate change may get out of control
B.people may misunderstand global warming
C.extreme weather conditions may arise
D.forests may become a potential threat
【解析】根据题干信息词定位到首段。第一句引出文章话题“在人类对抗气候变化中，森林给我们带来了一个更为艰巨的挑战。”第二句指出人类正在威胁到森林吸收二氧化碳的能力。第三句“The climate change we are hastening could one day leave us with forest that emit more carbon than they absorb.”为本段的主题句，指出我们人类所造成的气候变化问题最终会使得森林排放更多的二氧化碳，而不是吸收。即森林可能会威胁气候的恶化和人类的生存。故选择D项“森林可能会变为一个潜在威胁。”。
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