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Friday, January 23, 2009

All the Rage: Pentagon Grants SFSU Prof $1.9M to Analyze How Emotion Leads to Violence Among Ideologues

Posted By on Fri, Jan 23, 2009 at 8:45 AM

"See me, feel me, touch me, heal me."

In a move that required little reading between the lines, the Department of Defense yesterday announced a  $1.9 million Minerva Research Initiative Award for Professor David Matsumoto and his work on the role emotion plays in driving religious and ideological groups to violence.

That's right -- this is all about ... Dutch soccer hooliganism! The Pentagon wants to understand -- and quash -- rampant football violence in the Low Countries. Or maybe it's more directed at folks like this.

Potentially violent ideologues right here in the Bay Area may find themselves blessed with a bit o' cash from the Pentagon as well -- San Francisco State's Matsumoto will be knocking on the doors of "organizations such as religious or activist groups to take part in lab-based experiments measuring behaviors driven by specific emotions."

Matsumoto, our constant readers may recall, also recently published fascinating work regarding the facial expressions of blind and sighted athletes, in which he contended that our looks of joy, pain, and shock are genetically innate and not learned.
The professor's new study will last five years and comprise seven separate studies. Part I commences this year, and involves video analysis of speeches given by "high-profile leaders."

"We'll be analyzing the emotional language and metaphors used by leaders to refer to their own groups and outside groups," Matsumoto explained. "We are particularly interested in how the priming of emotions such as anger, contempt and disgust can propel group members to hostile actions against others."

Well, that is the $1.9 million question, isn't it?

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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