All posts tagged: psychology

A Million Smiles: From war torn wreckage to bustling metropolises, Mike Worsman searches for a smile

The Mills Longitudinal Study at UC Berkeley was a 50 year investigation of the wellbeing and social development of a group of women since graduating from the college. The initial study examined the smiles from photos of 20-something year old women in their college yearbook in order to measure any favourable outcomes in their lives many years later. Only the Duchenne Smile was considered as it sees the corners of the mouth and cheeks raised, and crow’s feet formed at our brow. Essentially the Duchenne Smile is our physiological expression of true happiness. What the study posited was that emotional tendencies are believed to shape personality and the life course of their influence on cognitive, behavioral and social processes. 30 years later, the study found that positive emotional expression in their college yearbook photos related to stable aspects of personality change in certain traits over time, observers’ judgement of the women’s personalities and their responses to those women, and life outcomes measured up to 30 years later. In fact, over time, those who expressed more …

The Creative Benefits of Walking

From an early age Rousseau developed a passion for walking; finding delight especially from the journeys guided by chance: peripatetic randomness, or what he calls, “the pleasures of going one knows not where.” Such walks allowed his mind to wander as he penned in his Reveries of the Solitary Walker, where we are introduced to 10 ‘walks’ from Rousseau’s autobiographical musings toward the end of his life. Through his walks, Rousseau delved deep into self-reflection and self-analysis, rejoicing in his freedom to “converse with [his] soul.” “There is something about walking that animates and activates my ideas; I can hardly think when I am still; my body must move if mind is to do the same,” wrote Rousseau. Fast forward to 2014 where French Philosopher Frederic Gros released his book A Philosophy of Walking and he also speaks of the mind-freeing quality of walking. “A long walk,” writes Gros, “allows us to commune with the sublime,” he penned. He notes the flaneur, coming from French meaning to stroll or to lounge, the casual saunter, roaming the many pathways of a city, observing, musing, …

The Virtues of Remembering The Mundane

One summer my family and I drove from Melbourne to Adelaide to make it in time for my graduation. It was a 600 kilometre drive — that’s about a 7 hour road trip sitting in a hot car, passing an endless stretch of arid land, counting the naked trees scorched by the unforgiving Australian sun. Then, the time spent seemed insignificant. The conversations, the pep-talks, the packed lunches and pit stops. It was all part of one mundane experience to get us from A to B. We no longer take these trips, and my father has now passed away but these insignificant moments I initially took for granted, mean the world to me. It’s a discovery in retrograde: the essential from the insignificant. A four-part study in Psychological Science led by Ting Zhang explored the tendency to underestimate just how curious and interested we will be for recounting mundane activities such as making breakfast, or a trip to the mall. The first of Zhang’s studies, for example, required participants to create time capsules, with such contents including: last social activity attended, a fragment from …

daydreaming

An Ode To Spacing Out

Today only 6 percent of studies note the functional benefits of mind wandering. But in the 1960s psychologist Jerome L. Singer launched research which demonstrated that daydreaming is crucial for a healthy, satisfying mental life. His research is a kind of ode to spacing out: his work focused on what he identified to be positive constructive daydreaming which he found consisted of playful imagery, and playful creative thought. It’s a refreshing, and somewhat relieving perspective to hear — considering that mind-wandering is a universal human experience. In fact, in the time that I wrote this piece, I’ve drifted into thought about the effects of walking, or completing tasks which require little mental focus, and the effects they have on continuing with tasks that require stronger cognitive focus. And bingo: researchers from Bar Ilan University in Israel found that daydreaming can actually boost task performance. But there’s an important distinction to made between positive constructive daydreaming (pad) and procrastination — or poor attentional control. PCD refers more to playful imagery and playful creative thoughts, whereas say, constantly shifting …

success failure

If You’re Failing, You’re Doing Ok

During one piano recital I was so nervous that as soon as my fingers hit the keys, I completely forgot how to play. I was just pushing at keys – at that moment I was blind, the music infront of me meant nothing, and my fingers were temporarily disconnected from my hand. I was lost. Nevertheless, I tried again. My second attempt didn’t fare well either. I tried again, and again, and finally I got to playing my piece. It would have been much easier, and much less embarrassing to have left. My parents, peers, and teachers were in the audience, waiting to hear what the many years of piano lessons had left me with. When I finished my piece, I bowed, and walked back to them musicians room. It was grim, but at one point my friend came up to me and said, “if that was me I would have just left, but you actually stayed there until you got it right.” After that my music teacher and piano teacher said the same thing. Had I …

job interview techniques

How Science Says You Can Ace a Job Interview

What kinds of techniques do you employ when in a job interview? From the clothes we wear, to how easy our names are to pronounce, there are many factors for success that are considered when being interviewed. But science says that our voice is something that we really need to pay attention to. New research has found that a person’s intellect, amiability and thoughtfulness is conveyed and perceived through their voice, rather than through text. The study entitled, The Sound of Intellect: Speech Reveals a Thoughtful Mind, Increasing a Job Candidate’s Appeal, by Juliana Schroeder and Nicholas Epley, conducted experiments where a group of MBS students composed both verbal and written elevator pitches to hypothetical employers. The results were unanimous across the experiments: from video to transcripts – evaluators – which included practicing recruiters – who listened to job pitches were consistently more interested in hiring the candidates than were evaluators who read identical transcriptions. Voice impressed evaluators so much so, that a more positive impression of candidates was formed, and were rated as more likeable. It was believed …

Outsiders and Creative Thinking | Warhol’s Children

In a 2012 study it was found that social rejection propels creativity for those with an independent self-concept. That is, people who place less of a premium on sharing more similarities with major social groups, rather than opting for a more individualistic approach. 3 studies were conducted. In the first, participants were rejected outright and informed they had to work on their tasks individually. They then indicated how they felt (pretty rejected). In the second rejection was primed by requiring students to circle pronouns (“I”, “my”) and vice versa for the interdependent version (“We”, “our”). Results showed that the participants who had an independent self-concept, and who were rejected, produced more creative responses for their test, more so than included participants. The final study showed how these variables influence idea generation by completing a space alien drawing — the more the drawing diverted from conventional structures (nose in the middle of the face etc), the more creative. Again, independent thinkers generated more creative drawings following rejection, than following inclusion. “Rejection relative to inclusion appears to …

The Empathy Deficit and Books: Why Reading Books Can Make Us Better People | Warhol’s Children

In 1909 psychologist Edward Titchener introduced the term empathy into the English language as the translation of the German term Einfühlung, meaning “feeling into”. At this time in the 19th century, however, the term pertained to the thinking of philosophical aesthetics. Romantic thinkers viewed empathy as one’s ability to “feel into” nature and art, proposing that it was a remedy for the scientific attitude of impassively dissecting nature into its elements. It was then the work of Professor Theodor Lipps which transformed empathy from a concept of philosophical aesthetics into a more psychological concept.