Yes, it does:
In several experiments, researchers found that light levels influence selfish behavior. People who were placed in a dimly lit room were significantly more likely to cheat than people placed in a well-lit room. Likewise, people who were asked to wear sunglasses were less generous in a sharing game than people who were asked to wear clear glasses. This pattern appears to be the result of an increased sense of anonymity in lower light levels, even though light levels did not confer any actual increase in anonymity.
Zhong, C. et al., “A Good Lamp is the Best Police: Darkness Increases Dishonesty and Self-Interested Behavior,” Psychological Science (forthcoming).
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The authors examined how an applicant’s handshake influences hiring recommendations formed during the employment interview. A sample of 98 undergraduate students provided personality measures and participated in mock interviews during which the students received ratings of employment suitability. Five trained raters independently evaluated the quality of the handshake for each participant. Quality of handshake was related to interviewer hiring recommendations. Path analysis supported the handshake as mediating the effect of applicant extraversion on interviewer hiring recommendations, even after controlling for differences in candidate physical appearance and dress. Although women received lower ratings for the handshake, they did not on average receive lower assessments of employment suitability. Exploratory analysis suggested that the relationship between a firm handshake and interview ratings may be stronger for women than for men.
from Journal of Applied Psychology – Vol 94, Iss 6
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Observers were able to accurately judge some aspects of a stranger’s personality from looking at photographs, according to a study in the current issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (PSBP), the official monthly journal of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Self-esteem, ratings of extraversion and religiosity were correctly judged from physical appearance.
Researchers asked participants to assess the personalities of strangers based first on a photograph posed to the researchers’ specifications and then on a photograph posed the way the subject chose. Those judgments were then compared with how the person and acquaintances rated that individual’s personality. They found that while both poses provided participants with accurate cues about personality, the spontaneous pose showed more insight, including about the subject’s agreeableness, emotional stability, openness, likability, and loneliness.
The study suggested that physical appearance alone can send signals about their true personality.
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“…people with expertise in football are better at predicting match outcomes when they spend time not consciously thinking about their predictions.”
Imagine you’ve just paid an expert good money for their verdict and they say to you: “Can you hang on a couple of minutes whilst I don’t think about this”. You’d be forgiven for thinking they’ve gone silly. They may have. But another possibility is that you’ve chosen a shrewd expert who’s totally up-to-speed with the latest decision-making research: Ap Dijksterhuis and his colleagues have just shown that people with expertise in football are better at predicting match outcomes when they spend time not consciously thinking about their predictions.
This may seem bizarre but it’s entirely consistent with Dijksterhuis’s Unconscious Thought Theory and with the folk wisdom that says it’s a good idea to sleep on a problem. According to Dijksterhuis’s theory, the subconscious is sometimes less prone to the biases that afflict the conscious mind, thus ensuring that an expert gives due weight to the most important factors.
This was borne out in a second experiment, much like the first, in which students predicted the outcomes of World Cup football matches. Again, distracted experts made the most accurate predictions. This time, however, the researchers also asked participants to estimate the teams’ world rankings – apparently this is the most reliable predictor for the outcomes of World Cup matches. For experts who spent time consciously considering their match predictions, there was no correlation between their knowledge of team rankings and their prediction accuracy. By contrast, for the experts who spent time not thinking about their predictions, there was a correlation between their ranking knowledge and predictive accuracy. Not consciously thinking about the problem at hand seemed to ensure that experts paid due attention to the most important factor affecting match outcomes.
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Ever since reading The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228 I’ve been interested in Navy SEAL training, particularly the psychological aspects.
In his blog at Psychology Today, Bakari Akil covers a History channel documentary The Brain and what it revealed about the four techniques the Navy used to increase passing rates in the elite SEAL program:
“With goal setting the recruits were taught to setin extremely short chunks. For instance, one former Navy Seal discussed how he set goals such as making it to lunch, then dinner.”
“With mental rehearsal they were taught to visualize themselves succeeding in their activities and going through the motions.”
“As far as self talk is concerned, the experts in The Brain documentary made the claim that we say 300 to 1000 words to ourselves a minute. By instructing the recruits to speak positively to themselves they could learn how to “override fears” resulting from the amygdala, a primal part of the brain that helps us deal with anxiety.”
“And finally, with arousal control the recruits were taught how to breathe to help mitigate the crippling emotions and fears that some of their tasks encouraged.”
How successful were these techniques?
This very simple four step process increased their passing rates from 25 percent to 33 percent, which is excellent in a rigorous program as theirs. It demonstrates that achieving success doesn’t always have to be a complex process. A few minor additions and tweaks may be all that is needed.
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