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(For the introduction to this interview, click here.  For Part 1, click here.  For Part 2, click here. For Part 3, click here.)

Click to Listen (4 1/2 minutes)

MT: This is Maura Thomas from Thanks for coming back to hear part four of my interview with Dr. John Dovidio, psychology professor at Yale University.  You can see the previous posts by clicking the link at the top of this page and prior pages.

…That’s actually a really great perspective.  I talk to a lot of people who are becoming a little bit overwhelmed with the idea that,  “There is just too much and I can’t catch up.”  I run into people every day who are deciding, in fact, they even put it in these terms — “I’m trying to decide what my limit is.  And…you know, ok I did email, and now I’ve done Facebook, but I’m not going to do Twitter!  That’s just where I’m drawing the line, and anything else that comes out, I’m just all done.” (laughing)

JD: (laughing) Mmm hmmm.

MT: There certainly is an age component to this.  But it’s really interesting to hear you talk about how humans have overcome this throughout history and how we’re actually really good at it.  Perhaps people should take heart in that idea.

JD: We’ve overcome worse!

MT: Sure. Sure.

JD: (laughing) We could overcome quite a bit!

MT: (laughing) Right.

JD: But, at the same time, I think you’re also right by saying — and the people you quoted are right by saying — you’ve got to be cautious, realizing that whatever benefits might be coming with the software and hardware development that we see in communication, we have to always understand that there is probably something that’s going to be lost, because we just have a limited amount of time, we have a limited capacity for attention, and we have a limited capacity for being able to think and make decisions. Those are the bounds of being human, just like any other animal.  And so how do we actually teach people to use a lot of these media in a way that works to their benefit, so that they don’t become overwhelmed or develop those habits so strongly that they’re hard to reverse?

You won’t remember this, and I really don’t remember it personally, but when television came in, that changed everything, right?  People said, “Well, television is taking away from human relations. People are no longer talking to one another They are no longer looking face-to-face.  What they’re doing is they’re sitting side-by-side, and the quality of their relationships is going to go down. TV is going to be the end of everything because people are going to become sedentary, they’re going to become passive, they’re going to need more stimulation.  And they’re going to lose sight between what’s real and what’s everyday life.”  And to some extent that was true, but then people adjusted to it, and now we look at TV and we see that as, “How benign and passive.”

MT: That was part four of my interview with Dr. John Dovidio, psychology professor at Yale University. I hope you’ll come back tomorrow for the fifth and final portion of the interview where I’ll ask Dr. Dovidio about the value of reflection and quiet moments. Also, if you’re interested in reading up on the current research, please visit the Research and Resources page of this website. This is Maura Thomas from Thanks for visiting!

(Click here for the conclusion of the interview.)

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