Books to change the way you look at the world. Part 1.
In this post I am going to sum up why you should read a books which will change the way you interact with the world psychologically. That’s right – PsychologyItBetter is having a go at “sort-of” book reviewing! If I enjoy writing it, and you all read it, there are a bunch more to follow! We start with the classic ‘7 Habits Of High;y Effective People’ by Stephen Covey.
Work long hours? Entrepreneur? ‘Sleep is an inconvenience?’ type attitude? Maybe the number of hours you are putting in are holding you back. Hard work is important, but what is the psychology of long hours and what is the psychological effect of a 24/7 lifestyle?
This last couple of weeks has been rather busy. I have a few deadlines and a lot of psychology research and teaching tasks coming up – some for things I really enjoy, others I have found really hard to settle down to. Many of these jobs have deadlines looming – what is the psychology underpinning this, and how can we make them work for us? Are they intrinsically helpful or not?
At this time of year students return to university. This is an exciting time as you get to catch up with last year’s student and see what they been up to over the summer. Of course, we also welcome a new cohort of students to the University and, for many of them, help them get used to a new way of life. For some of these new faces, the transition between their old lifestyle and becoming a student is easy. For others it is more difficult. What causes these differences and what does the study of psychology tell us about situations where our identities don’t really fit together, or are just plain incompatible? Read on to find out.
Do we think better in groups? Groupthink and group polarisation psychology in action.
Way back in my first post on cognitive biases I mentioned that a couple of the projects I am working on are quite high pressured, and involve a small, tight knit team. I love working in a small group, and currently our little band is on a roll, producing lots of good research and making some great contacts. For these particular projects, the team is made up of four people, each bringing their own strengths and differing areas of expertise. This sounds like a dream come true right? I’m very lucky, but also quite aware that our small, slightly insulated group brings its own risks, Indeed, the combination of a high pressure environment, a small team and high (in academic terms anyway!) stakes are all characteristics of situations which a psychologist named Janis1 suggest can encourage a phenomena called Groupthink.
I have been thinking a lot this week about luck and circumstance. We sometimes feel we are generally lucky, sometimes unlucky and sometimes don’t consider the role luck plays in our lives as much as we should. Generally, we’re really bad at working out what is our own doing and what is down to the situation we are in, and even worse at estimating what will happen in the future. But what insights can the study of psychology offer?
Procrastination, as we all know, is a productivity killer. I have a list of jobs (sometimes written down, and sometimes in my head) I need to do on a day to day basis. Some jobs – particularly ones I am worried about, or where a poor outcome has dire consequences- seem to sit on that list for a long time. This often makes them more difficult when I finally get to them! Why do we do this to ourselves? What is the psychology which underpins it, and how can we avoid getting bogged down in procrastination?
Implementation intentions and behavioural follow-through
Like many people (I suspect!) I am sometimes not so good at following though on my goals. Here are a bunch of things which this week I fully intended to do, but failed epically to achieve. Note this is the abridged version – the full list runs to 3 volumes.
Buy light bulbs for the kitchen
Call an old friend I ran into on the train last week (Hello J!)
Write down when my annual leave is on our kitchen calendar
Call a work colleague to discuss a new project
Write up some work related expense forms
For many of these things I actively thought about doing them several times a day (as well as whilst cooking crazily calorie laden food in a near pitch-black kitchen).I’m not alone here – these sort of goals only seem to account for around 30% of the variance in our behaviour. Now, I am a reasonably well motivated guy, so why the apparent multiple lack of follow through? Part of the is probably due to the way I formulate my intentions.
Lack of sleep can affect us in many ways, but did you know in some ways it is the equivalent of being drunk?
I love my children, but boy, do they keep me up at night. I reckon over the last three years, 98% of my nights have involved being woken up multiple times, often for stretches of 30 minutes plus. The other 2% of the time I am away at conferences. Things were just settling down with our last one (by settle down, I mean just up once a night) when we had the next one. I think my partner has it even worse at the moment with our four month old!