When high-status people suffer a humbling loss, their performance tends to decline dramatically, because they’ve become dependent on their rank to maintain a positive view of themselves, say Jennifer Carson Marr of Georgia Institute of Technology and Stefan Thau of London Business School. For example, a study of Major League baseball players shows that in the 58% of salary arbitrations where players lost, the higher a player’s status, the greater the fall-off in performance the following year. If you’re a high-status person, sometimes the best way to cope with a work-related humiliation is to get a job with a new employer where you feel respected, say the researchers, whose study appears in the Academy of Management Journal.
SOURCE: High status is a liability when careers sputter, study finds
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It’s known that fantasizing about an ideal future makes individuals decrease their effort, but can the same effect be seen on the scale of a national population? After studying U.S. presidential inaugural addresses, a team led by A. Timur Sevincer of the University of Hamburg in Germany concluded that the answer is yes: Positive thinking about the future, as expressed in these speeches, predicted declines in GDP over the subsequent presidential term. Happy talk may prevent people from preparing for difficulties, the researchers say.
SOURCE: Positive Thinking About the Future in Newspaper Reports and Presidential Addresses Predicts Economic Downturn
Research participants who had played a 5-minute computer game using a Superman avatar were subsequently kinder to other people, and those who had played as the evil Voldemort were less kind, say Gunwoo Yoon and Patrick T. Vargas of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After the computer game, the participants were instructed to provide an unspecified amount of chocolate and hot chili sauce to other people who they believed would be required to eat it all (untrue); those who had been “Superman” provided about twice as much chocolate as chili sauce, while those who had been “Voldemort” did the reverse.
SOURCE: Know Thy Avatar: The Unintended Effect of Virtual-Self Representation on Behavior
In an experiment, people who sat by a messy desk that was scattered with papers felt more frustrated and weary and took nearly 10% longer to answer questions in a color-and-word-matching task, in comparison with those who were seated by a neatly arranged desk, say doctoral candidate Boyoun (Grace) Chae of the University of British Columbia and Rui (Juliet) Zhu of the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in China. A disorganized environment appears to threaten people’s sense of personal control, and the threat depletes their ability to regulate themselves, the researchers say.
SOURCE: Environmental Disorder Leads to Self-Regulatory Failure
When research participants were asked to publicly identify words shown on a screen, those whose vision had been blocked nevertheless sometimes disagreed with those who had been able to see the screen–in fact, they disagreed at least 27% of the time, says a team led by Bert H. Hodges of Gordon College and the University of Connecticut. Why did they intentionally make statements that everyone knew to be wrong? Out of a desire to honestly communicate their own ignorance, the researchers say. The findings demonstrate that human interactions aren’t always guided by simplistic parameters such as accuracy or even conformity; sometimes, people make surprising choices in order to convey such internal values as truthfulness.
SOURCE: Speaking From Ignorance: Not Agreeing With Others We Believe Are Correct
Do people in bad relationships escape to the relative sanctity of the office and devote more time to work, as has been hypothesized? Just the opposite, says a team led by Dana Unger of the University of Mannheim in Germany. People put more time in at work when their intimate relationships are going well, cutting back in order to invest in their relationships when things aren’t smooth at home, the researchers found in a diary study of 154 dual-earner couples. A healthy relationship at home gives people emotional, cognitive, and physical vigor, which allows them to put in more hours at work.
Shoppers on a popular web portal were about 46% more likely to go to a “To Purchase” page when the daily temperature averaged 25 degrees Celsius (77 Fahrenheit) than when it averaged 20 degrees (68F), say Yonat Zwebner of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Leonard Lee of Columbia, and Jacob Goldenberg of the Interdisciplinary Center in Israel. The researchers also found that people in a warm room were willing to pay more than those in a cool room for 9 of 11 consumer items shown to them, and other participants were willing to pay 36% more for items when holding warm, versus cool, therapeutic pads. Exposure to physical warmth activates the concept of emotional warmth, eliciting positive reactions and increasing product valuation, the researchers say.
SOURCE: The Temperature Premium: Warm Temperatures Increase Product Valuation