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Magic mushrooms can 'reset' depressed brain
A hallucinogen found in magic mushrooms can "reset" the brains of people with untreatable depression, raising hopes of a future treatment, scans suggest.
drugs  articles  brain  psychology 
yesterday by mikael
The Evolution of Trust
A great illustration of game theory.
psychology  mathematics 
yesterday by nwlinks
Quillette -- Jung and the Trumpian Shadow by Alexander Blum
'...Jung would suggest that the politically correct are ignoring the very real severity in their own nature: “Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is…if it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected.” ... -- Conservatives, particularly in the intellectual tradition of Alexander Solzhenitsyn and other anti-Communists, believe that the angelic heights of humankind are forever tied to their immutable and hellish depths. Every inch striving toward a perfect world is met with an inch striving toward absolute hell. This is an idea proposed by Jung, who said: “The fact is that if one tries beyond one’s capacity to be perfect, the shadow descends into hell and becomes the devil.” -- This has consequential implications for the political world. If we strive to be utopians, and erase all forms of inequality, sweep away all profanity, heal the wounds of racism and take ourselves off the cross of sin, our own lesser nature will double-back against us, and refuse our motions every step of the way. In this way, the utopian unknowingly digs his own grave. This was certainly the case with Communism throughout the 20th century. But this fallibility of human perfection continues, seemingly forever. -- In an essay titled “Feminism and the problem of supertoxic masculinity,” political scientist Justin Murphy makes an unconventional argument. In encouraging men to be passive, polite, and non-offensive through social pressure, most men will conform to that feminist standard out of a genuine unwillingness to be abrasive or do harm. But a small number of men who cannot be shamed, in a world filled with men who refuse to check them, will begin to dominate and rise through social hierarchies due to the simple fact that nobody knows how to stop those few men who embody the intolerable shadow the masses have repressed away. Murphy writes: "The problem is that when the baseline of masculine dominance expression is held below its organic tendency, defined simply as what men would do in the absence of cultural campaigns to defang it, this increases the potential payoff to those who dare exercise it, as there are more resources to dominate precisely to the degree that other men are not contesting them." -- ... In pretending that Donald Trump has nothing to do with us, that he is an aberration, a break from the ‘norms’ of polite politics, the Democrats distanced themselves from reality. In fact, hyper-masculine and hyper-aggressive attitudes have a great deal to do with the gene pool. The Left may cringe at the notion, but many leftists would do well to acknowledge their own shadow. Where does the recent explosion of commentary in favor of ‘punching Nazis’ and forcibly censoring speech come from? The thrill and the rush of violence, aggression and anger is simply more relatable than the sanitized gloss of politically correct culture. That is why antifa is so popular on the left. That is why Donald Trump is so beloved on the right. -- In seeking a society of pure mercy, without trolling, without insults, without any inequality, violence, or biased behavior of any kind, progressives inadvertently created their worst nightmare. They tried to suppress the collective shadow of humankind through moral policing and public shaming, and instead only begat a growing animosity directed at the cathedral of their false dogmas.'
ideology  politics  illiberalism  politicalcorrectness  psychology  shadow  denial  projection  poisoncontainer  scapegoating  shamingtactics  backlash  * 
yesterday by adamcrowe
How Stores Like Amazon Trick Customers Into Buying More and Paying More - The Atlantic - The Atlantic
How Stores Trick You Into Buying More Things

How do consumers decide what to buy? The truth is that stores know you better than you do—both online and offline. The Atlantic writer Derek Thompson reveals how retailers consistently manipulate customers into shelling out more money than a given item is worth. In this video, Thompson details three major psychological biases that retailers exploit and offers lessons on how to counteract each one.
Psychology  shopping  ecommerce  atlantic 
yesterday by jorgebarba
The Spectator -- If economists want to be trusted again, they should learn to tell jokes by Rory Sutherland
'...Writing recently at, one of the founding fathers of evolutionary psychology, John Tooby, answered a question which had long baffled me. Why do people on the left get more agitated about transgender bathroom access or hate speech than they do about modern slavery? Tooby explains: ‘Morally wrong-footing rivals is one point of ideology, and once everyone agrees on something (slavery is wrong) it ceases to be a significant moral issue because it no longer shows local rivals in a bad light. Many argue that there are more slaves in the world today than in the 19th century. Yet because one’s political rivals cannot be delegitimised by being on the wrong side of slavery, few care to be active abolitionists any more, compared to being, say, speech police.’ I might also add that many of the practitioners of modern slavery might be a bit foreign–looking, and so in criticising them you run the risk of violating some leftist tribal shibboleth.'
ideology  psychology  narcissism  illiberalism  RorySutherland 
yesterday by adamcrowe
FightMediocrity - YouTube - YouTube
FightMediocrity is a channel dedicated to fighting mediocrity through big ideas. I pick some of my favorite books in self-improvement and self-help that I ha...
psychology  books 
yesterday by geetarista
The Spectator -- Why aspirin should be reassuringly expensive by Rory Sutherland
'...The psychologist Nicholas Humphrey argues that placebos work by prompting the body to invest more of its limited resources in recovery. He believes that evolution has parsimoniously calibrated our immune system for a harsher environment than the current one, so we need to hack our unconscious into believing the conditions for recovery are especially propitious for our immune system to work at full tilt. The ministrations of doctors (witch or NHS), exotic potions (homeopathic or antibiotic), or the caring presence of relatives and friends can all create this benign illusion. -- Yet policymakers hate the idea of any solution which involves such unconscious processes. If you suggested the NHS invested in more elaborate drugs packaging, they’d have conniptions. Too little is spent on researching the placebo effect in proportion to its importance. Why is this? -- Most of our leaders today, in business or government, have been trained to see efficiency as the highest virtue. In this they have been led by economists, who understand nothing except efficiency — and for whom efficiency is an end in itself. -- Yet the human unconscious has evolved in the opposite direction. We instinctively respond to things which are inefficient. Effective placebos have to be rare, costly, foul-tasting or ideally all three. In manners, in art, in friendship (in advertising, too) we are drawn to the unnecessary, the effortful or the extravagant. Hence most of the efforts of business and government go towards creating organisations we just don’t like very much.'
economics  psychology  placebo  expectancy  RorySutherland 
yesterday by adamcrowe
BBC - Capital - Ikigai: A Japanese concept to improve work and life
(Credit: Getty Images)
Ikigai: A Japanese concept to improve work and life
With no direct English translation, it’s a term that embodies the idea of happiness in living. Yukari Mitsuhashi explains.
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By Yukari Mitsuhashi
7 August 2017
For Japanese workers in big cities, a typical work day begins with a state called sushi-zume, a term which likens commuters squeezed into a crowded train car to tightly packed grains of rice in sushi.
Essentially, ikigai is the reason why you get up in the morning
The stress doesn’t stop there. The country’s notorious work culture ensures most people put in long hours at the office, governed by strict hierarchical rules. Overwork is not uncommon and the last trains home on weekdays around midnight are filled with people in suits. How do they manage?
The secret may have to do with what Japanese call ikigai. There is no direct English translation, but it’s a term that embodies the idea of happiness in living. Essentially, ikigai is the reason why you get up in the morning.
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To those in the West who are more familiar with the concept of ikigai, it’s often associated with a Venn diagram with four overlapping qualities: what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for.
(Credit: Alamy)
Rush hour crowds in a state of sushi-zume at Shinjuku station in Tokyo (Credit: Alamy)
For Japanese however, the idea is slightly different. One’s ikigai may have nothing to do with income. In fact, in a survey of 2,000 Japanese men and women conducted by Central Research Services in 2010, just 31% of recipients considered work as their ikigai. Someone’s value in life can be work – but is certainly not limited to that.
A closer look
In a 2001 research paper on ikigai, co-author Akihiro Hasegawa, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at Toyo Eiwa University, placed the word ikigai as part of everyday Japanese language. It is composed of two words: iki, which means life and gai, whichdescribes value or worth.
According to Hasegawa, the origin of the word ikigai goes back to the Heian period (794 to 1185). “Gai comes from the word kai (“shell” in Japanese) which were deemed highly valuable, and from there ikigai derived as a word that means value in living.”
There are other words that use kai: yarigai or hatarakigai which mean the value of doing and the value of working. Ikigai can be thought of as a comprehensive concept that incorporates such values in life.
There are many books in Japan devoted to ikigai, but one in particular is considered definitive: Ikigai-ni-tsuite (About Ikigai), published in 1966.
The book’s author, psychiatrist Mieko Kamiya, explains that as a word, ikigai is similar to “happiness” but has a subtle difference in its nuance. Ikigai is what allows you to look forward to the future even if you’re miserable right now.
Japanese people believe that the sum of small joys in everyday life results in more fulfilling life as a whole
Hasegawa points out that in English, the word life means both lifetime and everyday life. So, ikigai translated as life’s purpose sounds very grand. “But in Japan we have jinsei, which means lifetime and seikatsu, which means everyday life,” he says. The concept of ikigai aligns more to seikatsu and, through his research, Hasegawa discovered that Japanese people believe that the sum of small joys in everyday life results in more fulfilling life as a whole.
A concept for longevity?
Japan has some of the longest-living citizens in the world – 87 years for women and 81 for men, according to the country’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. Could this concept of ikigai contribute to longevity?
Author Dan Buettner believes it does. He's the author of Blue Zones: Lessons on Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, and has travelled the globe exploring long-lived communities around the world, which he calls “blue zones”.
One such zone is Okinawa, a remote island with a remarkably high number of centenarians. While a unique diet likely has a lot to do with residents’ longevity, Buettner says ikigai also plays a part.
(Credit: Getty Images)
Pop idol grannies from KBG84 perform at a herb garden on Kohama Island, Okinawa Prefecture (Credit: Getty Images)
“Older people are celebrated, they feel obligated to pass on their wisdom to younger generations,” he says. This gives them a purpose in life outside of themselves, in service to their communities.
According to Buettner, the concept of ikigai is not exclusive to Okinawans: “there might not be a word for it but in all four blue zones such as Sardinia and Nicoya Peninsula, the same concept exists among people living long lives.”
Buettner suggests making three lists: your values, things you like to do, and things you are good at. The cross section of the three lists is your ikigai.
But, knowing your ikigai alone is not enough. Simply put, you need an outlet. Ikigai is “purpose in action,” he says.
For 92-year-old Tomi Menaka, her ikigai is to dance and sing with her peers in the KBG84 dance troupe, she told the Mainichi newspaper. For others, it might be work itself.
Take action
In a culture where the value of the team supercedes the individual, Japanese workers are driven by being useful to others, being thanked, and being esteemed by their colleagues, says Toshimitsu Sowa, CEO of HR consulting firm Jinzai Kenkyusho.
CEO of executive recruiting firm Probity Global Search Yuko Takato spends her days with highly qualified people who consider work as their ikigai and, according to Takato, they all have one thing in common: they are motivated and quick to take action.
“If you want to start a company but you are scared to dive into the unknown, go and see someone who is already doing something similar to what you have in mind.” By seeing your plans in action, Takato says, “it will give you confidence that you can do it too”.
(Credit: Getty Images)
Young salarymen (office workers) leave an office building in Tokyo (Credit: Getty Images)
Think smaller
That’s not to say that working harder and longer are key tenets of the ikigai philosophy – nearly a quarter of Japanese employees work more than 80 hours of overtime a month, and with tragic outcomes – the phenomenon of karoshi (death from overwork) claims more than 2,000 lives a year.
Ikigai is about feeling your work makes a difference in people’s lives
Rather, ikigai is about feeling your work makes a difference in people’s lives.
How people find meaning in their work is a topic of much interest to management experts. One research paper by Wharton management professor Adam Grant explained that what motivates employees is “doing work that affects the well-being of others” and to “see or meet the people affected by their work.”
In one experiment, cold callers at the University of Michigan who spent time with a recipient of the scholarship they were trying to raise money for brought in 171% more money when compared with those who were merely working the phone. The simple act of meeting a student beneficiary provided meaning to the fundraisers and boosted their performance.
This applies to life in general. Instead of trying to tackle world hunger, you can start small by helping someone around you, like a local volunteering group.
Diversify your ikigai
Retirement can bring a huge sense of loss and emptiness for those who find their ikigai in work. This can be especially true for athletes, who have relatively shorter careers.
(Credit: Getty Images)
Retirement caused champion hurdler Dai Tamesue to re-think the role work played in his life and identity (Credit: Getty Images)
Champion hurdler Dai Tamesue, who retired in 2012, said in a recent interview that the fundamental question he asked after he retired was: “what was it that I wanted to achieve by playing sports?”
“For me, what I wanted to achieve through competing in track and field was to change people’s perceptions”. After retiring, he started a company that supports sports-related business.
Tamesue’s story shows the malleable nature of ikigai and how it can be applied. When retirement comes, it is helpful to have a clear understanding of why you do what you do beyond collecting a payslip.
By being mindful of this concept, it might just help you live a more fulfilling life.
To comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Capital, please head over to our Facebook page or message us onTwitter.
If you liked this story, sign up for the weekly features newsletter called "If You Only Read 6 Things This Week". A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Culture, Capital and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday.
lifestyle-design  happiness  psychology  work  career  success 
yesterday by enochko
To Connect with Your Audience, Be Vulnerable | LinkedIn
To Connect with Your Audience, Be Vulnerable
Published on Published onOctober 15, 2017
Adam Grant
Adam Grant
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Author: GIVE AND TAKE, ORIGINALS, OPTION B; Wharton professor; NYT writer
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Earlier this week, I was sitting backstage when my heart started fluttering. That’s not supposed to happen anymore. I’ve given hundreds of speeches in the past few years. But this audience was seriously intimidating. I was supposed to give the opening talk after dinner at the TED staff retreat. These people curate great talks for a living.

I started thinking about what I could do to wow them. But then I remembered something I learned from Mohamed El-Erian, a brilliant economist and the undisputed king of humility among executives.

Mohamed was asked recently to give a speech about the global economy to a group of traders. Just before taking the stage, he was warned by the organizers that the group tended to have a short attention span, had already been drinking at a cocktail reception, and had even thrown bread rolls at one speaker in a prior conference.

When he stepped on stage, he did something unusual. He said “I’m scared.”

Then he told them why. “I’ve heard you wouldn’t be interested or engaged for long. You might be a rowdy audience. And since you threw rolls at a prior speaker, I’m ready to use the front table as a shield.”

Then he said he was ready to put them to sleep with 62 slides.

They laughed. He said he was just kidding and then started telling them not only what he would want to know about the economy if he were in their position, but also how they could think about the unusually world we are all living in.

They sat riveted for over half an hour. Then, after the 20-minute Q&A period, there were still many hands up.

Mohamed understood that the people who make the best impressions aren’t aiming to impress others. They’re focused on connecting with others. By acknowledging that he was scared, he made himself human and vulnerable. He showed that he cared about what the audience thought of him and understood their perspective.

Good communicators make themselves look smart. Great communicators make their audiences feel smart.

It took me a while to appreciate how central the audience's emotions are to communication. Last year, I was preparing to speak at TED when a question from a coach stopped me in my tracks: “What do you want the audience to feel?”

At first I was offended by the question. I don’t want the audience to feel. I want them to think. My favorite definition of persuasion comes from Chris Anderson: “the act of replacing someone’s worldview with something better.” I was hoping to reason with the audience’s worldview, not emote with it.

But looking back, I can’t think of a more important question about communication. On issues that people hold dear, to change what they believe, you have to change what they want to believe. That means I had to appeal to passion and reason (if you’re a disciple of Hume), pathos and logos (if you’re an Aristotelian), heart and mind (if you’re a speaker of plain English).

So I sat down begrudgingly (only later did I lament that I was emoting) to decide what I wanted my audience to feel. Inspired? No. I’m a teacher, not a preacher. Leave inspiration to gurus leading people on spirit walks across hot coals and then trying to inspire their second-degree burns to heal in a flash. Confident? Definitely not; too Stuart Smalley. Moved? Nope, not comfortable with anyone breaking down into tears.

Eventually I settled on three emotions: surprised, fascinated, and amused. It’s probably not a coincidence that these are my three favorite emotions to feel when I’m sitting in an audience—we all want to deliver the talks we most love to watch. Surprise appeals to me because we learn the most when our assumptions are challenged. It also resonates because I used to be a magician (though my wife is fond of reminding me of a Family Guy mantra: magicians are on the second-to-last rung of the hierarchy of entertainers, right between ventriloquists and mimes). Fascination matters because it means we’re not just awake but jazzed to learn more. As for amusement, laughter is as much fun to give as receive—and it’s also the most audible and visceral cue that the audience is on board.

The cardinal rule of humor at work is to make fun of yourself, not others. Self-deprecating requires vulnerability. So I started making a list of my favorite moments of vulnerability. The entrepreneur who included a slide in his pitch deck on the reasons not to invest. The job applicant who was underqualified for a position but landed it after her cover letter opened, “I’m probably not the candidate you’ve been envisioning.” And the American president who was accused in a debate by his opponent of being two-faced. As the story goes, Lincoln replied, “If I had another face, do you think I’d wear this one?”

I decided to surprise the audience in an amusing way by admitting one of my biggest mistakes: failing to invest in a company that’s now worth over $1 billion.

And this week, when I was nervous about my talk to the TED staff, I asked myself what Mohamed El-Erian would do. He wouldn’t be afraid of telling the audience that he’s afraid.

So I walked onstage and opened, “If there’s one thing more nerve-wracking than speaking at TED, it’s speaking to TED.”

The audience laughed. It broke the ice and put me at ease.

Considering what you want your audience to feel makes vulnerability less terrifying. It’s not about you. It’s about them.


Adam Grant is the New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take, Originals, and Option B with Sheryl Sandberg. He shares new insights each month in GRANTED, his free newsletter on work and psychology:
psychology  public-speaking  communication  influence  persuasion 
yesterday by enochko
Trying to Get Ahead? Plan in Reverse, Study Suggests – Association for Psychological Science
Trying to Get Ahead? Plan in Reverse, Study Suggests
Motivation research has found that we tend to be the most driven and enthusiastic about a project when we begin it and when we’re about to complete it. It is the pile of problems, work, and minor hassles in the middle of the two that turn determination wet-graham-cracker soft.

Researchers from the Peking University HSBC Business School, the Korea University Business School, and the University of Iowa collaborated to see if goal-planning methods affected motivation and pursuit of goals. Their research appears in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science. Over the course of five studies, they had groups of students plan their approach to general school work, unit tests, comprehensive exams, or important job interviews. Some of the participants planned their steps in chronological order. The other participants worked in reverse, planning the steps they would take just before their goal and working backward in time until they reached the step nearest in the future.

“Although extensive research has shown the benefits of planning, little attention has been paid to the ways people construct plans and their impacts on subsequent goal pursuit,” said Jooyoung Park, assistant professor in the Department of Management at Peking University HSBC Business School and first author on the paper.

Previous research has established that making specific plans and visualizing goals all spur goal-oriented actions and mindsets, but also that certain thought processes get in the way of goal progress. Feelings of distance to a goal, the number of goals in question, and ruminating on ideas rather than actions all slow goal-setters when moving forward.

For relatively simple goals, there was no difference between forward planning and backward planning. If a goal is short-term or requires only a couple of steps, the two are likely no different. But for complex tasks (like planning out how to study for a comprehensive exam), students preparing backward anticipated the necessary steps more clearly and followed the original plan to reach the set goal. They had higher expectations for reaching their goals and felt less pressed for time during progress toward them.

“This suggests that simply changing the way of constructing plans can produce different outcomes,” said Park.

The results held in both academic and career contexts. In addition, participants in some of the experiments came up with their own steps to reach a goal while other experiment instructions provided steps to them. In each case, the motivating effects appeared.

The researchers offer a number of explanations for why backward planning proved effective. Previous work in the field of goal setting, planning and motivation has identified the imagination as a motivating tool. True retrospection is used to review events that have already happened, but using one’s imagination to think of future events as if they were in the past facilitates visualization of both the end goal and the steps required to get there. This ‘future retrospection’ tends to increase the anticipation of pleasure from achieving the goal and helps bring about goal-directed behaviors.

Backwards planning may have helped the students forecast success rather than failure. If one starts at the end goal, the assumption is that efforts were successful to get there, while moving from the present to the future doesn’t necessarily assume success, and forces the goal setter to think through obstacles that might prevent it from happening. Research has shown that envisioning the steps necessary to complete a goal reduces anxiety, increases confidence, and lead to more effortful actions. Further, goal setters feel closer to the end goal in terms of time when they envision success rather than failure.


Jooyoung, P., Lu, F., Hedgcock, W. (2017). Forward and Backward Planning and Goal Pursuit. Psychological Science. DOI:10.1177/0956797617715510
study  learning  productivity  success  psychology 
yesterday by enochko
Why working from home should be standard practice |
Why working from home should be standard practice
Sep 20, 2017 / Ari Surdoval
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And if your boss is on the fence, here’s a compelling case study — from economics professor Nicholas Bloom — to show her.

Quick — imagine a person working from home. If you pictured somebody in pajamas watching videos on their laptop, you’re not alone. “Many people think of working from home as shirking from home,” says Stanford University economics professor Nicholas Bloom (TEDxStanford Talk: Go ahead, tell your boss you are working from home).

But Bloom thought there had to be more to telecommuting than binge-watching Netflix. The professor — who co-directs the Productivity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship program at the US’s National Bureau of Economic Research — had worked from home at a previous job, and he recognized that it’s becoming more and more common around the world. In the US, the number of employees who telecommute has tripled over the past 30 years, although it’s still only 2.4 percent. “Out of the 150 million Americans who work, that means roughly 3.6 million Americans work from home,” says Bloom. However, in developing countries — where mobile technology and improving digital connectivity have coincided with congestion and skyrocketing rents in cities — between 10 and 20 percent of employees work remotely at least part of the time.

He found few unbiased studies on the subject. “Everything I saw was pro-working from home and put out by people who were for it from the outset. The people against it have stayed quiet,” Bloom says. Plus, it’s not an easy subject to investigate. “It requires close monitoring and enough participants to fill experimental and control groups, and the participants need to be willing to continue with the experiment for an extended period of time,” Bloom explains. Finally, researchers must find a company that is willing to experiment with their workers.

Fortunately, Bloom knew someone with access to the critical elements. In his graduate economics class was James Liang, cofounder and CEO of Ctrip, China’s largest travel agency, with a workforce of 16,000. “One day while James and I were talking, he mentioned Ctrip was interested in allowing its Shanghai employees to work from home,” Bloom says. Office space in the Chinese megacity was expensive, and the company was experiencing high attrition rates, in part due to workers getting priced out of living in the city center and having to endure long, difficult commutes. But without hard data to inform their decision, the company was reluctant to make dramatic changes to their telecommuting policy.

Bloom and Liang designed a randomized controlled trial to put remote work to the test. More than 500 employees in the company’s call center volunteered, and about half met the study qualifications, which included having a private room at home from which to work, having been at Ctrip for at least six months, and decent broadband access. Those with even-numbered birthdays were selected to telecommute four days per week; those with odd-numbered birthdays remained in the office as a control group.

Would employees be able to resist the three main pitfalls of being at home: the bed, the TV and the fridge? Adding to managers’ concern was the fact that call center workers are among the youngest in the company, and they might be especially prone to distraction without in-person supervision. The study lasted for nine months, and Bloom guessed the experiment would basically break even in terms of benefits and drawbacks.

When they reviewed the results, Ctrip management and Bloom were stunned. “It was unbelievable. Ctrip saved $1,900 per employee over the course of the study on office space, and we knew this would happen,” Bloom says. “But to our amazement, the work-from-home employees were far from goofing off — they increased productivity by 13.5 percent over those working in the office. That’s like getting an extra day’s work from each employee.” The people working from home also reported shorter breaks and fewer sick days and took less time off.

The gains went beyond productivity — attrition rates among the at-home group were 50 percent lower than those who worked in the office. In interviews with researchers, the remote employees also reported higher job satisfaction. Still, to the surprise of Ctrip management, more than half of the volunteer group changed their minds about working from home — they felt too much isolation. And for a number of them, being at home was not alone enough. “Some of the employees who lived with their parents were quite ready to get back to the office,” reports Bloom.

Bottom line: the study shows that companies have little to lose — and much to gain — by allowing employees to work from home. “My advice for companies who are curious is to examine different ways to do it,” Bloom says. Some options: it could be offered on a contingency basis when severe weather events are forecast, or for summer days when people’s children are out of school; it could be given on an individual, probationary basis; it could be part of a promotion; or it could be granted in lieu of a raise or a bonus. And if productivity falls, an employee can return to being in the office full-time.

One or two days a week is probably the ideal amount of time to work from home, suggests Bloom. “You don’t want to go much higher because you risk jeopardizing the cohesion of your team.” As companies compete to hire and retain the best employees, being able to offer the option to work from home can sweeten the deal. “The need to go into a workplace five days a week started because people had to go to a factory and make products,” he says. “But companies that still treat employees like that are increasingly finding themselves at a disadvantage.”

Ari Surdoval is a writer, editor and content strategist, and the founder of Spoonful Communications a boutique strategic communications and content creation agency. He lives in Nashville with his wife, two children and an ever-expanding pack of rescued animals.
business  management  HR  work  career  success  happiness  psychology  productivity 
yesterday by enochko
How to change a mind (yours or someone else's) - Ozan Varol
How to change a mind (yours or someone else’s)

If you had asked me this question–How do you change a mind?–two years ago, I would have given you a different answer.

As a former scientist, I would have cautioned you to rely on objective facts and statistics. Develop a strong case for your side, back it up with hard, cold, irrefutable data, and voila!

Drowning the other person with facts, I assumed, was the best way to prove that global warming is real, the war on drugs has failed, or the current business strategy adopted by your risk-averse boss with zero imagination is not working.

Since then, I’ve discovered a significant problem with this approach.

It doesn’t work.

The mind doesn’t follow the facts. Facts, as John Adams put it, are stubborn things, but our minds are even more stubborn. Doubt isn’t always resolved in the face of facts for even the most enlightened among us, however credible and convincing those facts might be.

As a result of the well-documented confirmation bias, we tend to undervalue evidence that contradicts our beliefs and overvalue evidence that confirms them. We filter out inconvenient truths and arguments on the opposing side. As a result, our opinions solidify, and it becomes increasingly harder to disrupt established patterns of thinking.

We believe in alternative facts if they support our pre-existing beliefs. Aggressively mediocre corporate executives remain in office because we interpret the evidence to confirm the accuracy of our initial hiring decision. Doctors continue to preach the ills of dietary fat despite emerging research to the contrary.

If you have any doubts about the power of the confirmation bias, think back to the last time you Googled a question. Did you meticulously read each link to get a broad objective picture? Or did you simply skim through the links looking for the page that confirms what you already believed was true? And let’s face it, you’ll always find that page, especially if you’re willing to click through to Page 12 on the Google search results.

If facts don’t work, how do you change a mind–whether it’s your own or your neighbor’s?

Give the mind an out

We’re reluctant to acknowledge mistakes. To avoid admitting we were wrong, we’ll twist ourselves into positions that even seasoned yogis can’t hold.

The key is to trick the mind by giving it an excuse. Convince your own mind (or your friend) that your prior decision or prior belief was the right one given what you knew, but now that the underlying facts have changed, so should the mind.

But instead of giving the mind an out, we often go for a punch to the gut. We belittle the other person (“I told you so”). We ostracize (“Basket of deplorables”). We ridicule (“What an idiot”).

Schadenfreude might be your favorite pastime, but it has the counterproductive effect of activating the other person’s defenses and solidifying their positions. The moment you belittle the mind for believing in something, you’ve lost the battle. At that point, the mind will dig in rather than give in. Once you’ve equated someone’s beliefs with idiocracy, changing that person’s mind will require nothing short of an admission that they are unintelligent. And that’s an admission that most minds aren’t willing to make.

Democrats in the United States are already falling into this trap. They’re not going to win the 2020 presidential elections by convincing Donald Trump supporters that they were wrong to vote for him last November or that they’re responsible for his failures in office. Instead, as author and psychology professor Robert Cialdini explains, Democrats must offer Trump supporters a way to get out of their prior commitment while saving face: “Well, of course you were in a position to make that decision in November because no one knew about X.”

Colombians adopted a similar strategy in the 1950s when the Rojas dictatorship collapsed. As I explain in my forthcoming book, although the Colombian military was complicit in the abuses of the Rojas regime, civilians deftly avoided pointing any fingers at the military. Instead, they managed to march the military back to the barracks with its dignity intact. They recognized that they would need the military’s cooperation both during the transition process and in its aftermath. So they offered an alternative narrative for public consumption that uncoupled the armed forces from the Rojas regime. In this narrative, which the military leaders found much easier to swallow, it was the “presidential family” and a few corrupt civilians close to Rojas—not military officers—who were responsible for the regime’s excesses. Were they to take a different approach, a military dictatorship—not democracy—may have resulted.

Your beliefs are not you.

In my early years in academia, I would tend to get defensive when someone challenged one of my arguments during a presentation. My heart rate would skyrocket, I would tense up, and my answer would reflect the disdain with which I viewed the antagonistic question (and the questioner).

I know I’m not alone here. We all tend to identify with our beliefs and arguments.

This is my business.

This is my article.

This is my idea.

But here’s the problem. When your beliefs are entwined with your identity, changing your mind means changing your identity. That’s a really hard sell.

A possible solution, and one that I’ve adopted in my own life, is to put a healthy separation between you and the products of you. I changed my vocabulary to reflect this mental shift. At conferences, instead of saying, “In this paper, I argue . . .,” I began to say “This paper argues . . .”

This subtle verbal tweak tricked my mind into thinking that my arguments and me were not one and the same. Obviously, I was the one who came up with these arguments, but once they were out of my body, they took a life of their own. They became separate, abstract objects that I could view with some objectivity.

It was no longer personal. It was simply a hypothesis proven wrong.

Build up your empathy muscle

Playing Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth on repeat to a room of Detroit auto workers won’t change their mind on global warming if they’re convinced your agenda will put them out of a job.

Humans operate on different frequencies. If someone disagrees with you, it’s not because they’re wrong, and you’re right. It’s because they believe something that you don’t believe.

The challenge is to figure out what that thing is and adjust your frequency. If employment is the primary concern of the Detroit auto worker, showing him images of endangered penguins (as adorable as they may be) or Antarctica’s melting glaciers will get you nowhere. Instead, show him how renewable energy will provide job security to his grandchildren. Now, you’ve got his attention.

Get out of your echo chamber.

We live in a perpetual echo chamber. We friend people like us on Facebook. We follow people like us on Twitter. We read the news outlets that are on the same political frequency as us.

This means our opinions aren’t being stress tested nearly as frequently as they should.

Make a point to befriend people who disagree with you. Expose yourself to environments where your opinions can be challenged, as uncomfortable and awkward as that might be.

Marc Andreessen has a saying that I love: “Strong beliefs, loosely held.” Strongly believe in an idea, but be willing to change your opinion if the facts show otherwise.

Ask yourself, “What fact would change one of my strongly held opinions?” If the answer is “no fact would change my opinion,” you’re in trouble. A person who is unwilling to change his or her mind even with an underlying change in the facts is, by definition, a fundamentalist.

In the end, it takes courage and determination to see the truth instead of the convenient.

But it’s well worth the effort.
psychology  change-management  behaviour  politics 
yesterday by enochko
A Stanford psychologist on the art of avoiding assholes - Vox
A Stanford psychologist on the art of avoiding assholes
"Not giving a shit takes the wind out of an asshole's sails."
Updated by Sean Sep 26, 2017, 12:40pm EDT


Javier Zarracina/Vox
The world is full of assholes. Wherever you live, whatever you do, odds are you’re surrounded by assholes. The question is, what to do about it?

Robert Sutton, a psychology professor at Stanford University, has stepped up to answer this eternal question. He’s the author of a new book, The Asshole Survival Guide, which is basically what it sounds like: a guide for surviving the assholes in your life.

In 2010, Sutton published The No Asshole Rule, which focused on dealing with assholes at an organizational level. In the new book, he offers a blueprint for managing assholes at the interpersonal level. If you’ve got an asshole boss, an asshole friend, or an asshole colleague, this book might be for you.

Asshole survival, Sutton says, is a craft, not a science, meaning one can be good or bad at it. His book is about getting better at it.

I sat down with him recently to talk about his strategies for dealing with assholes, what he means when he says we have to take responsibility for the assholes in our lives, and why he says self-awareness is key to recognizing that the asshole in your life may be you.

“You have to know yourself, be honest about yourself, and rely on people around you to tell you when you’re being an asshole,” he told me. “And when they are kind enough to tell you, listen.”

Our full conversation, lightly edited for clarity, follows.

Sean Illing
How does a Stanford professor come to spend so much of his time thinking about assholes?

Robert Sutton
Well, there’s some intellectual logic to it. I’ve done a lot of research on the expression of emotion in organizational life, including how to deal with assholes. I wasn’t using that word at the time, but that’s basically what I was doing. I even did some ethnographic work as a telephone bill collector, where I was dealing with assholes all day long. I was also part of an academic department that had a no-asshole rule — seriously. And we actually enforced it.

Sean Illing
Wait, what? What does a “no asshole” policy in an academic department look like?

Robert Sutton
We would talk about this explicitly when we were making hiring decisions. Stanford’s a pretty passive-aggressive place, so it wasn’t really in your face. But if someone was acting like a jerk, we would gently shun them and make life difficult for them. The idea was to avoid hiring assholes if it all possible, and if one squeezed through the cracks, we would deal with him or her collectively.

Sean Illing
Before we can talk about surviving assholes, we need a proper definition of assholery. Can you give me one?

Robert Sutton
There are a lot of academic definitions, but here’s how I define it: An asshole is someone who leaves us feeling demeaned, de-energized, disrespected, and/or oppressed. In other words, someone who makes you feel like dirt.

Sean Illing
So an asshole is someone who doesn’t care about other people?

Robert Sutton
I would make a distinction between temporary and certified assholes, because all of us under the wrong conditions can be temporary assholes. I'm talking about somebody who is consistently this way, who consistently treats other people this way. I think it’s more complicated than simply saying an asshole is someone who doesn’t care about other people. In fact, some of them really do care — they want to make you feel hurt and upset, they take pleasure in it.

Sean Illing
How many people looking for asshole survival strategies fail to notice they’re part of the asshole contingent?

Robert Sutton
A great question. The reason that I have this definition of assholes as somebody who makes you feel demeaned, de-energized, and so on is that you've got to take responsibility for the assholes in your life. Some people really are so thin-skinned that they think everyone is offending them when it's nothing personal. Then the other problem, which you're also implying, is because assholeness is so contagious, that if you're the kind of person where everywhere you go, the people objectively treat you like dirt and treat you worse than others, odds are you're doing something to prompt that punishment.

You can see this with Donald Trump. I don’t want to talk about him too much, but I think that’s part of what’s going on with him. If you insult virtually everybody, they're going to throw the shit back at you.

Sean Illing
Well, I’m not going to call the president an asshole here, but I will say that he’s checking all the asshole boxes you’ve set forth in this book.

Robert Sutton
Yeah, I won't call him one either, but I agree with your assessment.

Sean Illing
What’s the surest way for someone to recognize that they’re being an asshole? I assume that most of us are occasionally assholes but prefer not to be.

Robert Sutton
Absolutely. There's some evidence in the book about how few people will say that they're assholes compared to how many people will say they're oppressed by assholes. There's a huge disparity. The main thing this research on self-awareness says is that the worst person to ask about someone’s assholeness is the asshole himself, and the best people to ask are the people around him or her who know that person at least fairly well. Bottom line: Assholes need someone in their life to tell them they’re being an asshole.

Sean Illing
Being an asshole isn’t a great relationship-building strategy, but it does seem to correlate with professional success. I’m thinking of a famous asshole like Steve Jobs. Why is that?

Robert Sutton
Yes, if you are in a situation where it's an “I win, you lose” kind of game in the organization, then you don't need any cooperation from your competitors, and leaving people feeling like dirt might be worthwhile.

But there are two problems with that. One of them is that in most situations, you actually need collaboration. And we have plenty of research that shows that people who are givers rather than takers tend to do better in the long term. If you're playing a short-term game, then yeah, being an asshole might pay dividends — but I’m fairly convinced that doesn’t work in most situations.

Sean Illing
And, to be fair, there are examples of assholes in business being upended by their own assholery. I’m thinking of Uber’s former CEO Travis Kalanick.

Robert Sutton
Right. There are typically costs for being an asshole in the professional world. When you’re climbing the corporate ladder, for example, you might be destroying the organization around you by driving out the best people, undermining their productivity, creativity, and so on.

Sean Illing
Let’s get to the meat and potatoes of the book, which is about how to deal with assholes. So tell me, what’s your best asshole neutralization strategy?

Robert Sutton
First, it depends on how much power you have. And second, on how much time you’ve got. Those are the two questions that you have to answer before you can decide what to do. Assuming that you don't have Dirty Harry power or you’re not the CEO and can’t simply fire people you don’t like, I think you have to do two things in terms of strategy.

To begin with, you've got to build your case. You’ve also got to build a coalition. One of my mottos is that you have to know your assholes. We already talked about temporary versus certified assholes, but another distinction that's really important is that some people, and you mentioned this at the outset, some people are clueless assholes and don't realize they're jerks, but maybe they mean well.

In that situation, you can have backstage conversations, gently informing them that they’ve crossed a line. This is simple persuasive work. But if it’s somebody who is one of those Machiavellian assholes who is treating you like shit because they believe that’s how to get ahead, in that case you’ve got to get the hell out of there if you can.

Sean Illing
Let’s make this more concrete. Say you’re someone who’s struggling against an asshole boss. Obviously, there’s a power asymmetry, so it’s not as simple as telling him or her they’re an asshole. I imagine this is a common situation for many readers interested in this book. What’s your advice?

Robert Sutton
The first question is, can you quit or transfer to another department? If you’re stuck under a certified asshole, that means you’re suffering. And if that’s the case, you should get out — it’s that simple.

The second question is, if you must endure, are you going to fight or are you just going to take it? If you’re going to fight, you need a plan and a posse, you need to collect your evidence, and then you have to take your chances. In any case, I tell people to try to have as little contact as possible with assholes, and I offer strategies for doing that in the book.

One of the simplest — but admittedly hardest — things you can do is simply learn not to give a shit. Not giving a shit takes the wind out of an asshole’s sails. When an asshole’s being nasty to you, ignore him. Think about when you’ll get home later that night and the fact that that asshole won’t be there and won’t matter. Think about how a year from now that asshole won’t be in your life, but he’ll still be the asshole he always was.

Sean Illing
What if you’ve got an asshole as a peer or a colleague? Does that call for a different strategy?

Robert Sutton
Your chances of getting rid of them are higher because you have more power. But there’s a simpler way… [more]
psychology  career  work  management  social-skills 
yesterday by enochko
Your Brain Limits You to Just Five BFF
The number of people we can have meaningful contact with is limited by the size of our brains. Now this group seems to be subdivided into layers, say anthropologists.
psychology  science  friends 
yesterday by mikael

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