Author Archives: Laura Akers, Ph.D.

About Laura Akers, Ph.D.

I'm a research psychologist at Oregon Research Institute, and I'm writing a book about meta-narratives, the powerful collective stories we share about who we are and where we're headed. My interests include beliefs and worldviews, ethics, motivation, and relationships, both among humans and between humans and the natural world.

On men understanding women, or, why Harry Potter’s gender mattered

Boys don’t read books written by women, said Joanne Rowling’s publisher, and they didn’t want her first name on the book, hence the “J.K.” by which we all know her. It’s good for her that she pictured Harry as a … Continue reading

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“Bright Eyes” and La Dolce Vita

Although I finished my PhD years ago, I have the good fortune to continue to be welcome at the weekly lab meetings for my advisor, Gerard Saucier, where he talks with his grad students about the many interesting things he’s … Continue reading

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The remarkable story of Little and Little (2021)

This morning I read a delightful academic paper, with an even more delightful backstory. The lead author, Sabine Little, is a professor at the University of Sheffield, specializing in “Languages Education,” especially multilingualism. Her native language is German. So when … Continue reading

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How China’s ruling story helped kill 2.6 million people, and counting

So far, more than 2,640,000 people around the world have died from COVID-19. Thanks to the vaccines, maybe the death toll won’t climb much higher, and maybe life will soon return to normal. But is there anything China could have … Continue reading

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A thousand years of grievance? Here???

When I write about speeches that get people really riled up – as part of our research team’s ongoing study of genocide – one of my favorite examples is Slobodan Milošević’s Gazimestan speech. About a million Serbs showed up to … Continue reading

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The WWE model of American politics

Way back in the day, my Grandpa Ben was a big fan of Portland Wrestling. A quiet man otherwise, he’d cheer on Dutch Savage and boo Bull Ramos. I was maybe 10, and I didn’t see the appeal. Looking back, … Continue reading

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Hacking your mood with a Strawberry Letter

A couple of weeks ago, I popped into the First National Taphouse to pick up the dinner we’d ordered, and on their sound system was a song I hadn’t heard, or thought about, in years. It was the Brothers Johnson, … Continue reading

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Fairness and the “R” word

Last week I shared my concern that efforts to hold the United States accountable for what our society has done to handicap some population groups could lead to some very negative side-effects. That is, our discussions of collective responsibility could … Continue reading

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One freedom may be the biggest threat to democracy

Today I want to talk about a perverse incentive that some Americans may have for preferring a more authoritarian government – it can give them a certain type of freedom that we don’t have in a democracy, the freedom to … Continue reading

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The hidden danger of stories – and a friendly alternative

Audiences loved the 2019 Downton Abbey movie, but some reviewers found fault. The New York Times review noted there was “barely enough plot to go around.” The critic for RogerEbert.com frames it more positively: It’s a movie about seeing people … Continue reading

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