Why the Overconfident, Even After Being Exposed, Continue to Dominate

Overconfidence can be dangerous, leading entrepreneurs to risk too much in new ventures and CEOs to engage in too many acquisitions of other firms, yet overconfident people continue to occupy positions of power. A team led by Jessica A. Kennedy of The Wharton School suggests why: Overconfidence engenders high status even after overconfident individuals are exposed as being less competent than they say they are. In a series of experiments, overconfident people suffered no loss of status after groups received clear, objective data about participants’ true performance on a task.

Overconfidence

SOURCE: When overconfidence is revealed to others: Testing the status-enhancement theory of overconfidence

Why We Hate to Give the Same Gift to Multiple People

In an experiment, a majority of people with two gift options gave each of two recipients different gifts, even though one of the presents was clearly less appealing than the other and the giftees had no way of comparing them. People persist in giving different gifts to different recipients in an attempt to be thoughtful by treating each person as a unique individual, write Mary Steffel of the University of Cincinnati and Robyn A. LeBoeuf of the University of Florida. The effect was attenuated when givers were encouraged to focus more on what the recipients would really like.

xmas gift

SOURCE: Overindividuation in Gift Giving: Shopping for Multiple Recipients Leads Givers to Choose Unique but Less Preferred Gifts

Don’t Give Consumers Too Many Visual Choices

Online shoppers love seeing images of products, but when the number of choices is high, visuals become confusing and presentation of the options in text form helps consumers make better decisions, say Claudia Townsend of the University of Miami and Barbara E. Kahn of The Wharton School. A high number of visual options can also prompt consumers to give up trying to choose: Asked to select among 27 types of crackers, participants in an experiment were 5 times more likely to pick “none of the above” if the choices were presented visually rather than in words. Text prompts a slower, more systematic mental-processing style, the researchers say.

buying strategy

SOURCE: The “Visual Preference Heuristic”: The Influence of Visual versus Verbal Depiction on Assortment Processing, Perceived Variety, and Choice Overload

 

We Could Be Better at Giving Thanks

Since Thanksgiving just passed:

Although people say they want to be thanked more often at work, fewer than 50% of Americans polled for the John Templeton Foundation, a philanthropic organization, reported that they would be very likely to thank salespeople, their mail carriers, or cleaning crews, and just 15% express daily gratitude to friends or colleagues. 74% never or rarely express gratitude to their bosses—but 70% said they’d feel better about themselves if their bosses were more grateful.

ByANDREW O’CONNELL

When You Feel Powerful You Talk Too Much, and Your Subordinates Perform Poorly

In a computer-based simulation of a Mount Everest expedition, teams whose leaders had been induced to feel powerful (“Think about a time when you had power over someone”) achieved just 59% of their goals, in comparison with 76% by teams whose leaders hadn’t been induced to feel powerful, according Leigh Plunkett Tost of the University of Michigan, Francesca Gino of Harvard, and Richard P. Larrick of Duke. A feeling of power prompts leaders to verbally dominate, which gives the impression that they are less open to others’ ideas; this perception diminishes team performance. Organizations might be able to minimize this effect by maintaining an egalitarian culture, reminding leaders of subordinates’ importance, and encouraging employees to question the legitimacy of leaders who dominate social interactions, the researchers say.

SOURCE: When Power Makes Others Speechless: The Negative Impact of Leader Power on Team Performance

Chatting with the Cashier Will Improve Your Mood

consumer behavior

If you buy your coffee quickly at Starbucks without saying much of anything, you’ll probably arrive at the office sooner, but if you stop to chat with the cashier, you might get to work in a better mood. Research participants who smiled, made eye contact, and briefly conversed with the cashier subsequently reported greater satisfaction with the visit and were in better moods (4.31 versus 3.80 and 4.22 versus 3.60, respectively, on 1-to-5 scales) than those who avoided unnecessary conversation, say Gillian M. Sandstrom and Elizabeth W. Dunn of the University of British Columbia. Seemingly trivial interactions can confer a sense of belonging, an effect that people tend to overlook in their quest for efficiency, the researchers say.

SOURCE: Is Efficiency Overrated? Minimal Social Interactions Lead to Belonging and Positive Affect

Are Your Most Compliant Customers Those Who Are Emotionally Disorganized?

People who were momentarily alarmed at what they believed were parking tickets on their windshields were subsequently 1.65 times more likely to comply with a street vendor’s request to purchase aromatic Indian sticks. Similarly, people were more likely to answer a questionnaire if the surveyor first asked, “Haven’t you lost your wallet?” (nothing had happened to the wallets). These experiments, by Dariusz Dolinski and Katarzyna Szczucka of Warsaw School of Social Services and Humanities in Poland, demonstrate that the “emotional disorganization” following apprehension and relief makes people more likely to comply with a request.
Don’t Tidy Up Before You Do Your Creative Thinking

SOURCE: Emotional disrupt-then-reframe technique of social influence

Your Status Depends Partly on Your Upward or Downward Momentum

An individual who was said to have risen in status to become the fourth-ranked member of a 10-person team was viewed by research participants as having greater prestige (6.60 versus 5.24 on a 1-to-9 scale) than if he was said to have declined to become fourth-ranked, according to a team led by Nathan C. Pettit of New York University. In judging status, people appear to consider not only current position but also whether an individual has upward or downward “momentum,” the researchers say.

  An individual who was said to have risen in status to become the fourth-ranked member of a 10-person team was viewed by research participants as having greater prestige (6.60 versus 5.24 on a 1-to-9 scale) than if he was said to have declined to become fourth-ranked, according to a team led by Nathan C. Pettit of New York University. In judging status, people appear to consider not only current position but also whether an individual has upward or downward “momentum,” the researchers say.  SOURCE: Rising Stars and Sinking Ships: Consequences of Status Momentum

SOURCE: Rising Stars and Sinking Ships: Consequences of Status Momentum

Don’t Tidy Up Before You Do Your Creative Thinking

This is just great news for me!!!

Research participants in a room where papers were scattered on a table and the floor came up with 5 times more highly creative ideas for new uses of ping-pong balls than those in a room where papers and markers were neatly arranged, says a team led by Kathleen D. Vohs of the University of Minnesota. A disorderly environment seems to aid creativity by helping people break from tradition, order, and convention, the researchers say.

Don’t Tidy Up Before You Do Your Creative Thinking

SOURCE: Physical Order Produces Healthy Choices, Generosity, and Conventionality, Whereas Disorder Produces Creativity

What Do You Fail to Notice When You’re Hard at Work?

83% of two dozen radiologists who were searching for a lung nodule didn’t see the white outline of a standing gorilla that researchers had inserted into a computed tomography scan, even though it was 48 times the size of the average nodule, says a team led by Trafton Drew of Harvard Medical School. All of the participants reported seeing the gorilla when, after the experiment, they were shown the CT scan and asked if they noticed anything unusual about it. Past studies have demonstrated that people who are engaged in a task often fail to notice unrelated images and occurrences; the current finding suggests that this “inattentional blindness” affects even experts.

What Do You Fail to Notice When You’re Hard at Work?

SOURCE: The Invisible Gorilla Strikes Again: Sustained Inattentional Blindness in Expert Observers