The National Sadness of Sandy Hook

It’s been almost two years since 20-year-old Adam Lanza walked into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and gunned down 20 children and six adults, before killing himself. It was one of the deadliest shootings in U.S. history–the worst ever in an elementary school. In the wake of this unthinkable tragedy, Americans were enveloped in a national sadness.

The murders took place on December 14th. Psychological theory and common wisdom both say that the intensity of our emotions surrounding Sandy Hook should have diminished by now. But is this true? A team of Columbia University psychological scientists, headed up by Bruce Dore and Kevin Ochsner, are questioning this belief. They are proposing an alternative idea about emotions and psychological distance–one that could have policy implications for the Newtown community and the country.

The fact is, the underlying mechanics of emotional decay are not well understood. One widely held hypothesis is that all emotions diminish at the same rate. That is, if remoteness affects emotional intensity, it should affect sadness and anger and anxiety and so forth, all at the same rate. But what if emotions are not all alike? What if time and distance make us think about tragic events —> Read More Here


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