Emotions, the church and the Oscars -- Berkeley goes to the movies

UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner, an expert on the science of emotions, consulted on the Pixar movie Inside Out, which took home the Oscar for best animated feature at Sunday’s Academy Awards.

Among other things, Keltner and his mentor, psychologist Paul Ekman, helped flesh out the animated personifications of joy, anger, fear, disgust and sadness. In a recent Berkeley News article, Keltner noted, for example, how emotions commonly viewed as negative, such as sadness or anger, serve an important function.

"In our culture we’re tough on sadness, but it’s a powerful trigger for seeking comfort and bonding,” Keltner said of his role in the making of the movie. "Meanwhile, anger is often about the sense of being treated unfairly, and can be a motivator for social change.”

Read " Oh Joy! Berkeley consults on Inside Out ” on Berkeley News.

Spotlight on the church

Meanwhile, the honors for best picture, as well as best original screenplay, went to Spotlight, about the Boston Globe investigation of sex abuse by Catholic priests in Massachusetts.

UC Berkeley anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes, a lifelong Roman Catholic, recently shared her thoughts on Spotlight (where it’s spot-on and where it’s misleading) as well as clerical sexual abuse in general, based on her research and observations in a number of countries over several decades.

"Celibacy is not reasonable,” she said, "for priests who live a secular life, surrounded by families and couples and privy to the confessional, where devout Catholics share their sins -- most of them bearing on needs and passions that come with being human.”

Read " Scheper-Hughes on her church’s sins (and Spotlight’s) ,” published on Berkeley News along with links to her writings on the church.

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