Tag Archives: Psychology

Updates from Chicago Booth

Psychology can help set the stage for business success
Use the environment you create to help employees, and your company, succeed
By Linda E. Ginzel – Remember the traditional classrooms you’ve learned in throughout your life. What do they look like and have in common?

You’re probably picturing a large space with few distractions, desks facing the front of the room, and all eyes on the teacher. Most students are taking notes; the teacher attempts a joke and students attempt to laugh. The people in the room are a diverse set of individuals and yet they all behave exactly the same way. They are all engaging in classroom behavior.

The first educators to create this environment didn’t know it at the time, but they were thinking like social psychologists. In particular, they were following what would later be the advice of the father of the discipline, Kurt Lewin, who said that behavior is a function of a person and their environment.

Business executives and teachers have similar goals for obtaining certain desired behaviors from employees and pupils, but there is little they can do to change the people themselves. Under Lewin’s equation, that leaves the environment, which is something managers have at least some control over. If you want to change someone’s behavior, including your own, your best bet is to go to work changing the circumstances.

Social psychologists focus on the external circumstances that affect the behavior of individuals. They talk about creating strong environments that help to move people in the direction of their goals, which is what I teach my executive MBA students in classrooms much like the one described above.

So, how do you do it? Business executives decide who is on a given team, the roles they play, how they are compensated, and the resources at their disposal. Your own behavior is a big part of the situation. If you want to change the behavior of others, start with your own actions. As an example, think about how you give team members feedback since that will shape how they feel about coming to you with suggestions or questions in the future. more>


A Little Psychology Does Economics Some Good


Misbehaving, Author: Richard Thaler.

By Noah Smith – Behavioral econ didn’t just generate excitement; it also generated a sense of threat.

The threat was that of a paradigm shift. This term, coined by philosopher Thomas Kuhn [2, 3, 4, 5], refers to the dread moment when scientists learn that up is down, black is white and everything they thought they understood about the world is wrong.

Cognitive and social psychology are basically pre-paradigmatic sciences — they produce a huge amount of experimental results, but they don’t fit together into any coherent whole.

Psychology, therefore, will be able to furnish econ with a large grab bag of anomalies, but there’s a good chance it will never provide a grand unified theory that will render the rational maximization of classical economics entirely obsolete. more> http://tinyurl.com/p3coc5d

It Pays to Be Overconfident, Even When You Have No Idea What You’re Doing

By Matthew Hutson – It’s certainly easy to come up with examples of overconfidence getting us into trouble — the Iraq War, the financial meltdown, that guy who challenged a heavyweight boxing champion to a fight last week — but overconfidence may actually be beneficial.

Two factors that may buoy the status of the obviously overconfident against the weight of censure: greater confidence leads to greater peer-rated social skill and greater peer-rated task ability, regardless of actual ability.

The researchers suspect that confidence increases leadership-like behavior, such as talkativeness and active engagement, and also reduces anxiety, which allows for more fluid interaction, and that these behaviors may make one seem more socially skilled. more> http://tinyurl.com/kdxnb6p

America’s Mood Map


(Photo credit: RichardStep.com)

By Jeffrey Kluger and Chris Wilson – For a country that features the word United so prominently in its name, the U.S. is a pretty fractious place. We splinter along fault lines of income, education, religion, race, hyphenated origin, age and politics. Then too there’s temperament. We’re coarse or courtly, traditionalist or rebel, amped up or laid-back. And it’s no secret that a lot of that seems to be determined by €” or at least associated with €” where we live.

Using personality test data from over one million people, researchers have identified three distinct personality regions in the country. Here, each state is colored by the region it belongs to and shaded according to how strongly its personality matches that profile. more> http://tinyurl.com/p45p48t

Amusingly honest AT&T ad is viral hit

By Chris Matyszczyk – The office is the sort of place where you are reasonably aware that you are supposed to behave a certain way, so you spend at least half of your time trying to hide your true behavior.

In a remarkable fit of understanding, AT&T has decided to stand by your side and tell it like it truly is. [VIDEO] more> http://tinyurl.com/ch3ark7

The Science of Building Trust With Social Media

By Greg Ferenstein

People are willing to pass judgment, with or without good information. Where examples of one’s competence or reputation are lacking, people will construct whole profiles of another’s personality from what little information is available.

For instance, psychologists have found that when judging our own mistakes, we tend to blame the situation (traffic, a problem at work, an overbearing partner, etc.). When others make a mistake, we tend to blame their personality (they’re selfish, incompetent, uncaring, etc). Why? For ourselves, we have a full plate of information to link any series of situations to the cause of our misbehavior. For others, we see only the mistake itself; constructing a personality in explanation of that mistake is the shortest path from confusion to simplicity. http://tinyurl.com/yjd9g9z