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This article takes a quick look at how we sometimes have a hard time gauging our own abilities. You’ll also learn about a debate of the nature of willpower as well as tips on anxiety, effects of caffeine, and why you should plan for happiness.
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Check the Blind Spots
Every person has mental blind spots. Psychologists refer to them as biases. Depending on your personality, experiences, and other factors, every person will have a unique set of biases.
Psychologists have known this for awhile. It’s nothing new. But it’s important because these biases affect our judgments and decisions each and every day.
Recently, though, scientists have been able to develop a tool by which these biases can be measured. In a new study they outlined 5 experiments. Two of them to validate the new method and the final 3 to see how bias affected peoples’ judgment.
The researchers found that a majority of us believe we are less biased than those around us. A kind of “yeah, that person is biased, but not me” type of syndrome. Out of 661 people in the research, only 1 said they were more biased than the average person. Just one. A very clear indication that we lack the ability to determine how biased we actually are.
The researchers go on to say:
“This susceptibility to the bias blind spot appears to be pervasive, and is unrelated to people’s intelligence, self-esteem, and actual ability to make unbiased judgments and decisions.”
Here’s another scary finding. They found that the people with the highest bias blind spots were the most likely to ignore advice from experts and peers. Making them less likely to be able to evaluate their own abilities.
So what causes these bias blind spots?
The researchers weren’t clear. They were curious what could cause the phenomenon, and tested factors such as intelligence, cognitive ability, decision making ability, self-esteem, and personality traits. All factors were seemingly unrelated to having the bias blind spots.
The Willpower Resource
Every day you are faced with decisions of temptation and control. You need to decided what priorities are going to matter that day, deal with frustration from a boss or coworker, or controlling a misbehaving child.
A very popular idea in psychology is that your level of control works much like a muscle. The more you use it, the less strength you will have. The theory – called “ego depletion” – gets a lot of attention in the media. It has been backed by numerous studies and reviews from scientific journals.
Recently, though, this paradigm is being challenged. Data from studies are finding that this theory has a few too many holes in it. A team from the University of Miami is seriously challenging its credibility.
The team has done their homework and come away with slightly different conclusions. They conducted their own review using a stricter view on what willpower is and what types of activities may cause a person to use it.
They also went in search of unpublished papers on willpower. Mostly because these studies may have found very little to no evidence that ego depletion exists, and hence they wouldn’t have been published in journals. A phenomenon in the research world known as publication bias. Their search turned up numerous studies that failed to show the depletion effect.
While this isn’t the end of the ego-depletion theory, it challenges a key idea on how people believe willpower functions.
Tips, tricks, and hacks for getting the most out of your brain.
New Zealand Fruit
A study from New Zealand has been studying how blackcurrants are affecting brain health. From what they’ve been finding, it can easily be labeled as another excellent berry in the brain food family.
The benefits? It potentially could help manage cognitive decline in older adults, help with brain disease such as Parkinson’s, and even battle depression.
The compounds in the berry also seemed to have increased performance in brain abilities. Among these are accuracy, attention, and mood. It even showed signs of reducing mental fatigue.
The study was one of the first of it’s kind in studying the effects of the berry on young, healthy adults.
Taking A Walk
Nature has recently shown to have regenerative effects for people. It can reduce stresses that have built up throughout the day and increased overall well being.
Scientists have recently found out the one of the reasons why a walk in nature is so good for us. The study from Stanford University found that taking a walk can help reduce rumination.
Ruminating – or constantly focusing on negative thoughts and feelings – can be one of the driving causes of depression and other health concerns. The authors found that the nature walkers had less brain activity associated with rumination when compared to those who strolled in city environments.
So if you find yourself unable to keep your mind from the horrible experiences of the day, a break up, or a bad test, go for a little walk in nature.
Planning for Happiness
Many of you have hectic schedules. Life can come at you pretty fast, and at times it can seem like it’s hard to fit in time for yourself.
For those of you who find yourself running around everyday, it seems that scheduling activities that you enjoy may be the best path to a happier life.
Trying to force happiness has been shown to backfire. Focusing on your level of happiness can actually cause one to feel less happy as well. But by thinking about the things you really enjoy – be it spending time with friends, gardening, or going on a hike – you can boost your levels of enjoyment. You are planning activities into your life that you may forget to do otherwise.
It’s a way to prioritize your own well being into your day. In fact, the researchers call this method “prioritizing positivity”.
So don’t forget to plan out time for yourself!
Doing Good Can Make You More Social
Research may have found a way for people who find social interaction stressful to be more outgoing. It may be as easy as lending a helping hand.
Other studies have shown that acts of kindness can increase happiness and may give you a more positive view of the world. The new study has extended these findings and show that acts of kindness over time reduce the anxiety that people experience when interacting with others.
The authors of the study believe that doing good may counteract the perceived negative expectations that people may have about social interaction.
I love my coffee. And now here’s another great reason you can love it more too.
A team of scientists from Brazil, Portugal, and the US has found that caffeine can help you manage stress. And it also might have the added benefit of preventing depression and memory loss.
What the team actually found was that caffeine didn’t make the biological systems work better, but that it put the brakes on a stress related chemical. We normally think of caffeine as enhancing our alertness and mood, not blocking the effects of stress.
While the experiments were run on mice, it’s the first study of it’s kind to establish a causal link between caffeine and reductions of stress.
In other terms, getting a shot of caffeine can help you better cope during your day.
Image: Sebastien Wiertz
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