Risky Domains

“Nice guys finish last.”

Most of us have either spoken or heard this phrase at some point? There seems to be cultural understanding that being the “bad boy” (i.e. being confrontational, acting impulsively, and taking physical risks) somehow earns attraction points, whereas being the “nice guy” doesn’t. Whether or not being a bad boy actually attracts women, research shows these behaviors are in fact associated with men’s mating motivation (i.e. desire for a mating partner). Unfortunately, there are a lot of obvious risks in these behaviors (e.g. starting a fight with the wrong guy).

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Keeping Enemies Close

“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer” ~ Sun-Tzu

Using one of the most appropriate opening quotes, Nicole Mead and Jon Maner published an artcile in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology trying to understand if and why group leaders prefer to be closer to their “enemies.” Most research indicates the human tendency is to avoid or attack perceieved threats, yet Sun-Tzu and observation indicates the opposite is true regarding ingroup threats. Why are group dynamics different?

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Anxious For (Bad?) Advice

Important decisions can be anxiety provoking. Therefore, it is somewhat unsurprising that Francesca Gino, Alison Brooks, and Maurice Schweitzer showed that people who feel anxiety — defined as “a state of distress and/or physiological arousal in reaction to stimuli including novel situations and the potential for undesirable outcomes” — are more likely to take advice from others. But what if the advice is bad?

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Two Heads Are Cockier Than One

Two heads are better than one. Anyone who has ever played a trivia game knows this. Working in groups allows people to combine the knowledge of each participant to improve decision-making and accuracy. In the literature, “research on quantitative judgement has shown that individuals often improve their decision making by integrating outside input into their judgments.” Therefore, effective collaboration is based on the acceptance of outside advice: but, are people always willing to listen?

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Adding Challenge to What You Love

Think of an activity you really love doing. It can be playing a game, putting together a puzzle, creating art — anything as long as it is something you want to do and it has a completion point or goal. Now that you have it in mind, do you prefer the activity to be:

  • Relatively easy, or
  • Relatively difficult

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Favoring The Subjective Like-Minded

If Oprah Winfrey were a tool, what would she be — a cocktail mixer, screwdriver, sledge-hammer, or toenail clipper?

No, this isn’t the set-up to a joke, but an example question used by Elizabeth Pinel and Anson Long in a study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Let’s say you were a participantand researchers are asking you a number of these nonsensical hypotheticals. Because you have no way of referencing existing knowledge for an answer, you are forced to rely on your in-the-moment subjective thought process. After a moment, you finally decide and enter your answer.

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Seeing Parts To Find New Purpose

Sitting in front of you on the table are two heavy steel rings, a candle, a matchstick, and a 2-inch cube of steel. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to fasten the two rings together. How do you solve this puzzle?

If you are like many people, your first thought would be something along the lines of, “candles are made of wax…wax melts with fire…matchsticks create fire; therefore, by melting the wax between the two rings, they would be sufficiently fastened.” Unfortunately, you would have the wrong answer.

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