Technology to Blame for Lack of Deep Connection?

It’s interesting to hear that technology is to blame on the inability of people to form deep meaningful relationships.

In a Western society, people tend to complain that social relationships are superficial, only concerned with surface phenomena.

And some might like to blame technology for this disconnect in human relationships.

After all, technology in the western world is increasingly becoming woven into the social fabric of our everyday lives.

Though technology may be at fault in some part, I think the fault lies at the given society’s culture.

Because individualist cultures always placed emphasised on the unit and not the collective.

Studies show that American children (i.e. individualist culture) take turns to play with a toy whereas Russian children (i.e. collectivist culture) share the toy with their siblings of friends.

And this attitude stems from the teachings of our mothers.

So this deep-rooted inability to connect, I think, is down to the individualist vs collectivist culture conundrum, at least in part.

And technology only exacerbates this problem.

P.S. Thanks for reading and feel free to subscribe to my email list.

Advertisements

What Kind of Job Fits You?

It’s important to find a job that suits your personality makeup.

Here are some of things you should be looking out for when on the hunt for a job:

Are you smart enough?

In the hierarchy of competence, the higher you go up it, the demand on intelligence increases.

If you’re not smart enough to handle your position, you will struggle.

You will be a small fish in a big pond and you will not manage that well.

You will be miserable and make the lives of others around you miserable because of the stresses of your day-to-day and by not being able to properly cope, you’ll carry these stress into your personal life.

As Jordan Peterson puts it:

“Unless you don’t want to fail, don’t put yourself in over your head.”

How agreeable are you?

If you’re agreeable, you’d do better in a cooperative environment rather than a competitive one.

Are you creative?

Do you need to be told what to do at every juncture or can you proactively come up with creative solutions to problems?

How conscientious are you?

Do you enjoy firing on all cylinders when having to deliver on something or do you prefer lazily chipping away at whatever task is at hand?

Are you neurotic?

If you’re neurotic, you’d be better off avoiding high stress environments to maintain optimal mental well being.

How’s your stress tolerance?

Do you do well under pressure?

Are you able to master your emotions well in times of crisis?

Do you have adaptive coping mechanisms to cope with prolonged stress?

Do you have good stress-relieving habits when recovering from work?

How to maximise your chance of success

To maximise your chances of success and maintaining optimal well being, you have to figure out where you are on the scale in your intelligence-personality profile.

Once you’ve figured that out, you can aim to go for a job where you’ll be a big fish in a small pond.

Granted, you don’t want to be the smartest guy in the room because that would mean that you’ve outgrown that particular environment and the longer you stay there, the longer your growth will be stunted.

In other words, surround yourself with people smarter than you if you want to grow because you will learn a lot from them.

Of course you’d want to avoid being the dumbest person in your immediate environment because, though you’d be in a position to potentially learn a ton, that would still be a tough and stressful environment to be in.

P.S. Thanks for reading and feel free to subscribe to my email list.

Growing With the Seasons

Life is lived in phases and your personality shifts with the seasons.

During the Spring and Summer seasons, you might find that you go out more and socialise more often, or that you exercise a lot more, and that you travel quite a bit.

During the Autumn and Winter months, you might notice that you tend to read more and immerse yourself in other, more introverted activities.

The changing seasons bring out different aspects of your personality and it would be wise to appreciate and honour these changes.

Now that we’re in the thick of Autumn, many people may be going into monk mode or nerd mode, delving into more introverted activities.

And that’s absolutely fine, in fact I’m going through something similar myself.

Think of Autumn and Winter as a time where you gather energy for the future Spring and Summer months where you will expend this energy.

And with the blossoming of trees with the beginning of spring, you too will blossom.

Here’s a video by Elliot Hulse that captures this idea:

Periods of immersion and periods of maintenance

As your personality and energy level shift through the seasons, you’ll also be alternating between periods of immersion and periods of maintenance.

In the Summer, you’ll be expending energy on outdoor-type activities such as exercise, social gatherings, travelling. It’s likely that these areas of life will be the areas you’ll be devoting significant attention to, that you’ll be immersed in. This is a period of immersion.

With total immersion to focus on your own tangible goals comes a certain short term sacrifice. After all, you’re investing your time and attention and focus into one area while decreasing all of the above in a different area.

The way I see it though is that if you invest your time into, say, travel, you’re raising your value so that when you’re in the mood to start partying and hanging out with friends, you’ll have a suitcase full of memories and stories to tell.

On the flip side, activities like reading may be put on hold, and though you might not be reading consistently, you won’t totally give it up and will maintain that area of life every now and then.  This is a period of maintenance.

Whatever season it may be or whatever phase of life you may be in, enjoy the phase you are currently going through.

 P.S. Thanks for reading and feel free to subscribe to my email list.

Mood Follows Action – How to Fake it Until You Make It

Imagine you’re in a funk, going through a slump, having a lazy day.

And for the life of you you can’t be bothered to do anything.

Ultra-endurance Athlete and author of “Finding Ultra” Rich Roll highlights that the common default mental position is to let a slump pass and just wait until you feel better.

But what Rich advocates is to take action in spite of how you feel.

So how do you shift how you feel about a scenario?

1.Take action in contrast to that feeling.

Be cognisant of the temporary nature of your current emotional state and realise that it is merely a ‘feeling’.

It is merely a feeling that can be easily reverse-engineered into something else.

Mood follows action. By taking action in contrast to that feeling is how you shift how you feel about a scenario.

And your brain will rise to the occasion.

2. Show up, especially when you’re uninspired

Even when you’re not feeling productive and can’t be bothered to do any work or if you’re feeling unmotivated to go to the gym for a workout – just go.

Just show up.

As Woody Allen once famously put it:

“Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

Just by showing up, you’re putting yourself into a productive, motivated mood.

Because even if you go to the gym while uninspired, the context of the gym itself will inspire motivation in you.

This ties in with pre-game rituals, like putting on your gym clothes before going to the gym just to summon that motivation to go.

A prime example of this is Scott Adams, author of the Dilbert cartoon-strip, who puts on his gym clothes before leaving his house, getting inside his car, and driving off to the gym for his workout.

It gets him in the zone. I talk about these concepts in an earlier post.

3. Improve your posture, change your breathing

By improving your posture, you can actually breathe better.

How?

Simply because your lungs are no longer pressing onto your diaphragm once you straighten up.

Why is it important to breathe better?

Strongman and Youtuber Elliot Hulse puts it this way:

“Breathing is the stimulation, both energetically and physically, of the intelligence in your unconscious, in your body, in your viscera.”

Elliot says that when you posture yourself like someone who feels good about themselves, you drive specific stimulation into the nervous system, and the nervous system immediately relays this to the brain.

It is an immediate feedback loop between body and mind.

In fact, Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy has shown that if you strike a V-pose, you can increase your testosterone levels by 20% and decreases your stress hormone levels just in 2 minutes.

Posture and depression

If you’re feeling a bit down, your body will follow and start slouching.

Feeling down or depressed isn’t just a mental thing, it’s physical as well.

In other words, depression has an embodied element to it.

This is also why if you’re having a crappy day, you should find some reason to smile.

It actually does make you happier.

cartoon_charlie_brown-depressed

There is a lot of science behind this cartoon.

People who experience depression also exhibit characteristic postures and movement that are an integral feature of their depression experience. 

Examples of embodied components of depression include reduced walking speed, smaller amplitude of vertical movements of the upper body, and hunched postures that elicit feelings of depression. 

As professor of Psychology Graham Davey, P.h.D puts it:

“These embodiments are not just reflections of inner feelings, they comprise an integral part of the depression experience because attempts to directly modify these postural features of depression also relieve the experience of depression.” 

This is why exercise is good to combat depression, not only because it chemically alters your brain but also because it eliminates poor postures that contribute to the embodied depression experience. 

We are however we act

What we do influences what we think.

“[W]e are designed to become in reality however we act. We fake it until it becomes real. Our core personality doesn’t change, but we quickly adopt the mannerisms and skills associated with our new status and position.”

-Scott Adams, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

A mood is just a mood, forever fluid and changing.

Take charge by acting in spite of how you feel and you will make great strides to changing your mood.

P.S. Thanks for reading and feel free to subscribe to my email list.

Social Influence: An Essay (Part 2/2)

So far in part 1 of this essay, we have looked at majority influence of a group on an individual.

However, there are also everyday social influences that occur on an individual level between people.

Most importantly however, these techniques are deliberate forms of social influence, whereas the aforementioned in part 1 were implicit forms.

These everyday influences include: the door in the face technique (e.g. Cialdini et al, 1975), the foot in the door technique (e.g. Dickerson et al 1992), and lowballing (e.g. Cialdini, 1974).

Door-in-the-face

When we consider the door-in-the-face technique, Cialdini et al (1975) illustrated its social influence qualities.

In this experiment, the researchers approached university students with a huge request of whether they would like to chaperone a group of juvenile delinquents to a zoo.

83% denied the offer. However, when the students were asked if they would like to sign up as counselors for minimum of 2 years – no one agreed.

When presented with the follow up ‘zoo offer’, 50% agreed.

This is an example of offering a huge request that will inevitably be declined but will lead to an acceptance of a much smaller request.

Foot-in-the-door

Another form of deliberate social influence is the foot-in-the-door technique, which requires individuals to express a small initial commitment that would influence them to partake in a larger commitment.

Dickerson et al. (1992) showed the effects of this influence in their experiment. In this study, the aim was to investigate if students could be influenced to conserve water in dormitory showers.

The researchers used this technique by approaching students on campus in a US university to sign a poster on conserving water. Those that did, were asked to be surveyed (a survey which was designed to make them think deeply about their water usage).

Then, there shower times were monitored. It was found that those that had committed to both poster signing and survey had shorter showers by 3.5 minutes across all over students.

This study shows how a small request can lead to a larger commitment and is an effective form of deliberate social influence.

Lowballing

A final influence technique is that of lowballing.

Cialdini (1974) demonstrated this technique in a university setting where he asked first year psychology students to volunteer for a study on cognitive and that it would commence at 7am.

24% agreeds to this. In another group, the same proposition was made, but the time wasn’t given. 56% agreed.

However, when the time was then presented to them (that the experiment is at 7am) and were told they could still back out – 95% of the students still appeared for that experiment.

P.S. Thanks for reading and feel free to subscribe to my email list.

 

Social Influence: An Essay (Part 1/2)

In this essay, the definition of social influence will be looked at along with the forms of such influence (incidental and deliberate). Focus will be placed on why people conform (e.g. Deutsch and Gerard, 1955).

Everyday examples of deliberate social influence will be presented in the form of compliance techniques namely the door in the face (e.g. Cialdini et al 1975), foot-in-the-door (e.g. Dickerson et al 1992), and low-balling (Cialdini, 1974).

Then, the various social influences dictated by particular group dynamics will be discussed.

These types of group dynamics can be divided into scenarios where individual psychology is influenced by the group (e.g. majority influences) and scenarios where groups are influenced by individual psychology (e.g. minority influences.)

In the latter case, we can further categorise the influences into group identification (either by cooperation or competition, Tajfel, 1970, or even prejudice, Macrae, 1994)) and majority influence such as conformity (e.g. Sherif, 1936; Asch, 1951) and obedience.

What is social influence?

Social influence pertains to the change of beliefs, attitudes, and values of a person being influenced. This influence is either deliberate (i.e. explicit feedback regarding how to behave) or incidental (i.e. implicit).

The latter type of influence can occur as a function of social norms. Social norms provide insight into why we conform, for example.

These norms inform others of the shared expectations of what a particular group believes desirable behavior is and it is these norms.

Social norms – two types of influence relating to norms

According to Deutsch and Gerard (1955), there are two types of influence relating to the social norms. These norms either serve an informational or normative purpose.

Informational influence is to reduce uncertainty, which leads us to accept information from others as evidence of reality (e.g. Sherif, 1936). Human beings have a desire for a definite answer, which is opposed to ambiguity and confusion.

They strive for cognitive closure (Kruglanski and Webster, 1996) which is characterized by urgency (e.g. attaining cognitive closure as quickly as possible) and permanency (this closure is maintained long-term).

Normative influence reflects the inherent need for social approval. Conformity occurs in order to build strong social relationships with group members.

Transmission of norms

Sherif (1936) conducted an experiment using the autokinetic effect to investigate the effect of conformity to a perceived group norm.

The autokinetic effect is an optical illusion where a fixed pinpoint of light in a completely dark room appears to move due to the eye movements of participants.

In this experiment, participants watched the light alone and estimated verbally how much this light appeared to move. After a number of trials, the participants had developed their own frame of reference with which they adhere to in their estimations.

Later, the experiment continued in groups of 3-4 where participants took turns in estimating how much the point of light moved. They used each other’s frame of reference, with all estimates being roughly the same.

A group norm had formed to which participants had conformed to once it was established.

Interestingly, when the participants were asked to repeat the task alone it was found that social influence of conformity still compelled the participants to based their estimations of the previously established group norm.

Hence, Sherif’s experiment shows how conformity can occur as a function of informational influence (Deutsch and Gerard, 1955) whereby people use the information of others as evidence of reality.

This is done in order to reduce uncertainty as we as humans strive for cognitive closure (Kruglanski and Webster, 1996).

This is due to uncertainty causing discomfort and confusion and humans will strive to reduce this uncertainty by achieving cognitive closure urgently (i.e. as quickly as possible) and permanently (i.e. for extended periods of time).

Conformity as majority influence on a minority in an ambiguous situation

What is the other reason that people conform?

Deutsch and Gerard (1955) suggest that normative influence (i.e. inherent need for social approval) is another reason. This influence compels us to conform due to an inherent need for social approval and group affiliation.

Conformity occurs as a function of building strong social relationships.

Asch (1951) conducted an experiment where majority influence was a factor in inducing normative influence in the form of conformity among individual participants.

In this experiment, 8 participants were gathered to enter a room, of which 7 were confederates. All participants were presented with two white cards.

On one there were three lines differing in length (a, b, and, c) and on the other there was one line which had to be compared with the lines on the card.

Out of 18 trials in the experiment, the confederates were asked to unanimously make a decision in 12 trials.

Over the critical trials, it was found that 75% of individuals agreed at least once and 32% conformed half of the times. This experiment showed the effect of majority influence over a minority.

Majority influence:
group affiliation and cooperation

However, studies have found that social influence occurs due to mere group affiliation and cooperation.

Tajfel (1970) conducted an experiment in which a group of boys that had previously known each other took part in a series of tasks.

The experiment required them to come into the lab and take part on an experiment on visual perception. One of the tasks required them to estimate how many dots there were on a computer screen.

Then, the participants were divided into groups depending on the performance in the visual task. They were segregated into two groups: under- and over-estimators.

Later, the boys assigned real money rewards to the participants with only knowing their group allocation (there was no real name, just a code).

Even though the group allocation was entirely arbitrary, the boys showed inter-group discrimination and in-group favouritism in their rewards.

That is, they gave less and gave more to out-group and in-group participants, respectively.

Majority influence: prejudice

The aforementioned experiment by Tajfel (1970) touches upon an important issue in everyday life and a majority social influence that occupies a curious position in the literature on social influence, namely prejudice.

Prejudice has been exhibited towards the outgroup in Tajfel’s study.

Macrae (1994) conducted a study on prejudice towards out-group as social influence.

In this experiment, participants were presented with an essay task to write about skinheads (this term was chosen for its political incorrectness).

Group 1 was asked to suppress their prejudices whereas group 2 was given no such instructions.

It was found that group 1 expressed fewer prejudicial views in their essays than group 2.

This showed that there was an obedience effect that had caused their suppression.

Interestingly, when the participants were asked to repeat the essay (without instruction), group 1 had experienced a rebound effect and had become significantly more prejudiced.

This study showed that it can be difficult to suppress a prejudicial idea and the attempt may lead to more prejudice.

Stay tuned for part 2 of 2…

P.S. Thanks for reading and feel free to subscribe to my email list.

 

Three Ways to Improve Your Sleep

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, author of The Ultramind Solution, here are his tips on how to improve your sleep:

  1. Avoid stimulants like caffeine, sugar, alcohol, nicotine before bed.
  2. Try to go to bed at the same time everyday, ideally before midnight.
  3. Don’t watch TV or use your phone or laptop two hours before sleep.

Melatonin is a sleep hormone which is excreted by the pituitary gland when it is dark.

This hormone makes you sleepy, especially when you’re chilling in a dimly lit room.

However, if you watch TV or use your phone or laptop, you’re stopping the natural melatonin secretion from happening.

P.S. Thanks for reading and feel free to subscribe to my email list.