Archive for the ‘psychology’ tag

#  The Origins of “Privilege” →

May 28th, 2014 at 12:01 // In Worth Knowing 

I’m not generally a fan of text interviews — you lose all brevity of well-composed prose and gain only portability of text — but I love this topic and found the conversational tone effective. Joshua Rathman interviews the woman who coined the term “privilege,” Peggy McIntosh, in the sociological context:

I came to this dawning realization: niceness has nothing to do with it. These are nice men. But they’re very good students of what they’ve been taught, which is that men make knowledge. And I realized this is why we were oppressive to work with—because, in parallel fashion, Ihad been taught that whites make knowledge.

This is when you came up with the forty-six examples of white privilege?

I asked myself, On a daily basis, what do I have that I didn’t earn? It was like a prayer. The first one I thought of was: I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.

#  What are some good habits? →

May 28th, 2014 at 9:05 // In Worth Considering 

I believe in habits, more than just about anything in life. A great little AskReddit thread about what habit to cultivate came about, and I recommend you give it a second. I’ve not investigated its veracity, but I particularly loves this list of “George Washington Carver’s 8 virtues”:

1st. Be clean both inside and out.

2nd. Neither look up to the rich or down on the poor.

3rd. Lose, if need be, without squealing.

4th. Win without bragging.

5th. Always be considerate of women, children, and older people.

6th. Be too brave to lie.

7th. Be too generous to cheat.

8th. Take your share of the world and let others take theirs.

#  Confidence and the Self →

May 23rd, 2014 at 12:14 // In Worth Reading 

David Brooks is an insightful political commentator, but half the reason that I follow his work closely is that he’s also got some interesting thoughts and insights about this thing called life. In this, he talks about the self in a way that reminded me the Buddhist “no-self” concept, but also about how to really be productive. This bit I thought especially insightful:

One of the hard things in life is learning to ask questions that you can actually answer. For example, if you are thinking about taking a job, it’s probably foolish to ask, “What future opportunities will this lead to?” You can’t know. It’s probably better to ask, “Will going to this workplace be rewarding day to day?” which is more concrete. If you are getting married, it’s probably foolish to ask an unknowable question like, “Will this person make me happy for 50 years?” It’s probably smarter to ask, “Is this person admirable enough that I want to live my life as an offering to them?” You can at least glimpse another’s habits here and now.

#  Youth Bias →

May 15th, 2014 at 16:33 // In Worth Considering 

A really interesting phenomenon I’d never considered but totally believe:

The way we think about the significance of public events has more to do with the timeline of our own lives than the historical impact of the event. Logically, the distribution of public events should be pretty constant throughout a person’s lifetime, but people tend to ascribe greater significance to events that occurred in their own adolescence or early adulthood.

#  Corporate Time Units →

May 14th, 2014 at 17:05 // In Worth Distraction 

A fun little list of how people in business (and life, really) might ask for your time and really intend their question:

“Just a sec” = 5 minutes

“Just a minute” = 10 minutes

“Pick your brain” = 17 minutes or, in rare cases, 90 seconds

“Quick chat” = 48 minutes

“No more than five minutes” = 1 hour

(via The Browser)

#  People Just Want to Date Themselves →

April 16th, 2014 at 17:45 // In Worth Considering 

I’ve always found this idea kind of tenuous, but hard to deny:

The data reveals a clear pattern: People are interested in people like themselves. Women on eHarmony favor men who are similar not just in obvious ways — age, attractiveness, education, income — but also in less apparent ones, such as creativity. Even when eHarmony includes a quirky data point — like how many pictures are included in a user’s profile — women are more likely to message men similar to themselves. In fact, of the 102 traits in the data set, there was not one for which women were more likely to contact men with opposite traits.1

Men were a little more open-minded. For 80 percent of traits, they were more willing to message those different from them. They still preferred mates who were similar in terms of height or attractiveness2, but they cared less about these traits — and they didn’t care much at all about other things women cared about, like similarity in education level or number of photos taken.3 They cared less about whether their match shared their ethnicity.4

While the author is kind of careful, she does have a bit of a corrupted data set — using data almost exclusively form a website whose whole business model is matching similar people — she at least acknowledges it. Still would like to see someone find a better way to study the topic, but the basic fact that most couples are more similar than different is hard to deny.

#  How to Become More Disciplined →

April 11th, 2014 at 14:59 // In Worth Reading 

I say it a lot, but I love a good Ask MetaFilter thread. This one is about self-discipline, something I’m pretty passionate about — you should read up on another site I maintain, Frozen Toothpaste, for more from me about it. Perhaps start at its Productivity category.

The whole comment thread as many gems, but the comment from “jdroth” really resonates with my experience:

For me, the key to discipline is intrinsic motivation. That is, pursuing activities that I’m naturally motivated to accomplish without any sort of outside pressure. “But wait!” you might be saying. “Then all I’d ever want to do is screw, play Flappy Bird, and eat ice cream.” Well, those things are nice, but turns out they don’t actually provide any sort of long-term fulfillment. Instead, pursuing intrinsic goals (that term again) that are challenging (but not too challenging) and meaningful make me (and other people) happier than hedonism.

#  Deceptively Busy →

April 11th, 2014 at 8:50 // In Worth Knowing 

Hanna Rosin brings up a topic I’ve got a keen interest in: how much modern (Yuppies or otherwise striving) Americans — such as myself — love claiming to be busy. The point that much of this is self-serving self-deception was (not shocking but) new to me:

“It’s very popular, the feeling that there are too many things going on, that people can’t get in control of their lives and the like,” Robinson says. “But when we look at peoples’ diaries there just doesn’t seem to be the evidence to back it up … It’s a paradox. When you tell people they have thirty or forty hours of free time every week, they don’t want to believe it.”

#  “Our Inability to Discern Between Confidence and Competence” →

March 27th, 2014 at 11:00 // In Worth Considering 

You don’t have to agree, but it’s a pretty plausible explanation for many things, include the leadership gap he’s talking about:

There are three popular explanations for the clear under-representation of women in management, namely: (1) they are not capable; (2) they are not interested; (3) they are both interested and capable but unable to break the glass-ceiling: an invisible career barrier, based on prejudiced stereotypes, that prevents women from accessing the ranks of power. Conservatives and chauvinists tend to endorse the first; liberals and feminists prefer the third; and those somewhere in the middle are usually drawn to the second. But what if they all missed the big picture?

In my view, the main reason for the uneven management sex ratio is our inability to discern between confidence and competence. That is, because we (people in general) commonly misinterpret displays of confidence as a sign of competence, we are fooled into believing that men are better leaders than women. In other words, when it comes to leadership, the only advantage that men have over women (e.g., from Argentina to Norway and the USA to Japan) is the fact that manifestations of hubris — often masked as charisma or charm — are commonly mistaken for leadership potential, and that these occur much more frequently in men than in women.

#  The Powerlessness of Positive Thinking →

March 26th, 2014 at 14:33 // In Worth Knowing 

Rhonda Byrne is a good columnist “whipping boy” — I’ve penned an attack myself — but this piece from Adam Alter rises above by actually offering scientific results in support of its attack. This I’d never heard of:

Mayer asked eighty-three German students to rate the extent to which they “experienced positive thoughts, images, or fantasies on the subject of transition into work life, graduating from university, looking for and finding a job.” Two years later, they approached the same students and asked about their post-college job experiences. Those who harbored positive fantasies put in fewer job applications, received fewer job offers, and ultimately earned lower salaries. The same was true in other contexts, too. Students who fantasized were less likely to ask their romantic crushes on a date and more likely to struggle academically.