You and I may look at the same person or object but see different things.

Here’s what happened….. I walked into the lobby elevator at my downtown office on Friday morning.  A man about my age entered right after me.   The elevator rose to the 8th floor, stopped, the door opened, and a young man lumbered in.  He was huge!  Football player big; blot out the sun, fill the door opening big.  I stared at his back (which was the size of both my daughters in down winter coats).  So did the older guy. The three of us continued up for several more floors and then the young man got out on the 12th floor (not a gym, maybe he just needed eyeglasses). The door slid closed behind him and the older man turned to me and said, “I’d hate to run into him on a football field.”  Startled, I responded honestly with the idea that had been circling my mind, “I was just thinking that I’d hate to have to feed him!”

Unconsciously Knowing When Someone Lies

Lying and ‘fake news’ dominates the internet, TV, and print. Therefore, it seems appropriate the look at some of the science of lies. Here’s the first…

Studies have found that we are not very good at detecting lies. We think we are, but we are wrong. In experimental conditions, we guess right about half the time –

Radiated Ratsnake, Copperhead Racer - Elaphe radiataoko_1oko_1same as flipping a coin.  I’m sure the odds go up when you know the person very well, but when you don’t, it’s guesswork on the conscious level. Anyway, back to the unconscious.

Researchers at Berkeley tried tapping into the unconscious with an experiment that went as follows:

  1. Subjects were shown videos – half were liars and half were truth tellers.
  2. Subjects guessed whether they were told the truth or a lie.
  3. They guessed correctly less than half the time

However, the subjects were then asked to do a work task which involved clumping words together, i.e. truth words such as honest or valid, and lie words such as dishonest. When they saw quick pictures of the truth tellers, they chose truth words.   When pictures of the liars were flashed, subjects gravitated toward the lie words. The researchers conclude that we unconsciously pick up cues. Maybe this is what people really mean when they talk about ‘my gut’ or ‘my instinct’. I’ve always been a believer in the unconscious; accessing it is the problem, but this is a nice study. A second experiment confirmed these findings.

So, I’ve been flashing pictures of my books as you read this. I’m sure you are headed directly to to stock up on all of them.

Source: L Brinke. Psychological Science

Mondays Need Beauty

Ice storm

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Evanston sidewalk
Evanston sidewalk

One Trick To Being More Creative

Have you ever played Pictionary? I think its a wonderful, hilarious game. Researchers used it in a recent study with surprising IMG_3171results. Subjects were instructed in the game, drawing a given word, i.e. ‘salute’. When they were engaged in the task, researchers watched their brain activity. When the subjects were producing pictures with higher levels of creativity, the area of the brain called the cerebellum lit up, showing its activation. The cerebellum, in the back of the brain, has never before been associated with creativity. The researchers believe that the quickly timed game forced people to be spontaneous rather than deliberate. Deliberate thinking lights up other parts of the brain, such as those in front, that are concerned with executive control.
Conclusions? Conscious monitoring and volitional control has a negative impact on creativity. Spontaneous improvisation has a positive impact on creativity. Today’s TIP – don’t think so hard when you want to be creative. Start with spontaneity. This fits with other research that has always suggested that people save the heavy thinking, editing, critiquing for later on. An interesting implication is that the creativity tests that businesses use are probably not helping hem to select creative candidates because those tests encourage people to be deliberate. Maybe interviewers ought to get a game of Pictionary for interviews in order to help them with hiring decisions.
Source: Saggar et al Scientific Reports 5 #10894 doi:10.1038
The book, the Writer’s Guide to Character Traits has been helping writers for years.
Character Traits

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IMG_1845Watkins Glen waterfall.

The Value Of Rediscovery

I loved this study. I’m going to try something like it with my family; maybe you will, too.IMG_0859

In 4 studies, the researchers examined “rediscovery” by asking 135 students to put the following into a time capsule:

  1. a recent conversation
  2. a description of their last social event
  3. an extract from a paper they wrote
  4. 3 favorite songs

They were also asked, “In 3 months time, how will you feel about these items?” What the researchers found was that people derived much more meaning than they expected from these mundane items. They underestimated how much today’s events would mean down the road. The lead researcher, Zhang who teaches at Harvard Business School noted that “What is now ordinary becomes more extraordinary in the future”. We don’t document the daily, ordinary events in our lives; they don’t have a ton of meaning at the time. This study reminds us NOT TO TAKE THE PRESENT FOR GRANTED.

source: Psychological Science. Zhang et al 2014

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A new painting

Mondays Need Beauty

Lulu visiting; no doubt she wants to borrow socks….IMG_2718

Mondays Need Beauty

Ancient petroglyphs in ArizonaIMG_2627