Inferring, Predicting Others’ Thoughts, Intentions, Behavior

Developing accurate inferences about others’ expectations and possible actions is essential for successful social interactions. The brain’s process to develop predictions about others’ thoughts and behaviors was investigated by University College London’s Demis Hassabis, with R. Nathan Spreng of Cornell University, Vrije Universiteit’s Andrei A. Rusu, Harvard’s Clifford A. Robbins and Daniel Schacter, and Raymond A. Mar of York […]

Coping or Complacency? Rationalization Instead of Behavior Change Is Learned Early

Rationalization was described by Freud biographer and psychoanalyst Ernest Jones as an unconscious maneuver to provide plausible explanations that manages unacceptable behavior, motives, or feelings. This tactic was observed among children as young as ages four to six, by Bar-Ilan University’s Avi Benozio and Gil Diesendruck. They suggested that these children had already learned to “reframe” disappointing circumstances […]

Group “Intelligence” Linked to Social Skills – and Number of Women Members

A group’s “general collective intelligence factor” is related to social and communication skills, not to the average or maximum individual intelligence of group members, found Carnegie Mellon’s Anita Williams Woolley, Christopher F. Chabris of Union College, with MIT colleagues Alex (“Sandy”) Pentland, Nada Hashmi, and Thomas W. Malone. Instead, group intelligence was most closely associated with: […]

Organizational Trust vs “Only the Paranoid Survive”

Organizational life can be punctuated by social uncertainty, leading to mistrust. Intel’s former Chairman, Andy Grove, explained his success in guiding the company through a critical flaw in its Pentium chip, which threatened Intel’s brand value, noting “Only the Paranoid Survive.” However, organizational paranoia’s counterpoint, trust, is associated with productivity, creative problem-solving, employee commitment and […]

Stress Increases Women’s Performance and Empathic Attunement, but not Men’s

Task performance, social interaction skills, and empathic attunement increase for women under stress, but not for men. Women seek social support (“become prosocial”), but men turn toward themselves and away from others when they experience stress, according to University of Vienna’s Livia Tomova and Claus Lamm with Bernadette von Dawans and Markus Heinrichs of University […]

Does Music Increase Risk-Taking, Ethical Lapses?

“What passion cannot Music raise and quell?” asked English poet, playwright, and critic John Dryden in A Song for St. Cecilia’s Day, 1687. More recently, researchers have identified that music can increase risk-taking and ethically questionable behaviors in experimental settings. Listening to preferred music was associated with increased risk-taking in a study of 23 adolescents […]

Work with Experts – But Don’t Compete – to Improve Performance

People can improve performance on tasks ranging across: Solving anagrams Playing video games Professional golf competition at the Masters Tournament when performing individually but alongside an outstanding performer, according to Stanford’s Francis Flynn and University of Texas, Austin’s Emily Amanatullah. They attributed performance enhancement to increased mental focus and physical effort, motivated by: “Social facilitation” […]

Emotional Awareness Enables Focus, Risk-taking Even When “Stressed”

Greater emotional understanding enables people to quell the “incidental emotion” of anxiety while they focus on decisions, according to Wharton’s Jeremy Yip and Stéphane Côté of University of Toronto. Incidental emotions that influence decision-making have been called “the affect heuristic” by University of Oregon’s Paul Slovic, Melissa Finucane of the East-West Center, Ohio State’s Ellen […]

Detecting Trustworthiness, Opening Your Mind?

-*Does mistrust increases willingness to consider new information, or “open-mindedness”? When people mistrust information, they are more likely to consider alternative information and interpretations,  according to Hebrew University’s Yaacov Schul and Ruth Mayo, with Eugene Burnstein of University of Michigan. Likewise, Ann-Christin Posten and Thomas Mussweiler of Universität zu Köln noted that “distrust frees your […]

Reading Literary Fiction Increases “Theory of Mind” Empathic Insight

Franz Kafka opined that people should read literature as “an axe to break the frozen sea inside us.” New School for Social Research’s Emanuele Castano and David Comer Kidd showed the effectiveness of Kafka’s recommendation:  Reading award-winning literary fiction increased emotional intelligence, social perception, and empathy, known as Theory of Mind (ToM) abilities. Theory of […]