How to easily increase your persistence in just one second:

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Eric Barker  -  
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Cross your arms:

Two experiments investigated the hypothesis that arm crossing serves as a proprioceptive cue for perseverance within achievement settings. Experiment 1 found that inducing participants to cross their arms led to greater persistence on an unsolvable anagram. Experiment 2 revealed that arm crossing led to better performance on solvable anagrams, and that this effect was mediated by greater persistence. No differences in comfort, instruction adherence, or mood were observed between the arms crossed and control conditions, and participants appeared to be unaware of the effect of arm crossing on their behavior. Implications of the findings are discussed in terms of the interplay between proprioceptive cues and contextual meaning.

Source: “The effect of arm crossing on persistence and performance” from European Journal of Social Psychology

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The secret to getting a job:

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Eric Barker  -  
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You have to network.

Yeah, you’ve heard that a million times already. I can show you what it really does and why it’s one of the most important things to focus on:

We assess the information spillovers generated by the exchange of job-related information within networks of fellow workers exploiting administrative records covering all employment relationships established in a specific local labor market over 20 years. We recover individual-specific networks of former colleagues for a sample of workers exogenously displaced by firm closures and relate their subsequent unemployment duration to the share of employed contacts at displacement date. Individual-specific networks and the longitudinal dimension of the data allow to account for most plausible sources of omitted variable bias. In particular, identification rests on within-closure within-neighborhood and within-skill comparisons conditional of a wide range of predictors for the displaced and his contacts’ employment status, such as lagged wages and labor market attachment. We find that contacts’ current employment rate has statistically significant effects on unemployment duration: a one standard deviation increase in the network employment rate reduces unemployment duration by about 8 percent; as a benchmark, a one standard deviation increase in own wage at displacement is associated with a 10 percent lower unemployment duration. These effects are magnified if contacts recently searched for a job and if their current employer is closer, both in space and in skills requirements, to the displaced. We find that stronger ties and lower competition for the available information also speed up re-employment. A number of specification checks and indirect tests suggests the estimated spillover effect of contacts’ current employment status is driven by information exchange rather than by other interaction mechanisms.

Source: “People I know: Job Search and Social Networks” from Centre for Economic Policy Research

You need to get networking NOW. It can take a while if your network is not already strong.

And unemployment isn’t just a short period of bad times — it can screw you up long after you get a job:

According to set-point theories of subjective well-being, people react to events but then return to baseline levels of happiness and satisfaction over time. We tested this idea by examining reaction and adaptation to unemployment in a 15-year longitudinal study of more than 24,000 individuals living in Germany. In accordance with set-point theories, individuals reacted strongly to unemployment and then shifted back toward their baseline levels of life satisfaction. However, on average, individuals did not completely return to their former levels of satisfaction, even after they became reemployed. Furthermore, contrary to expectations from adaptation theories, people who had experienced unemployment in the past did not react any less negatively to a new bout of unemployment than did people who had not been previously unemployed. These results suggest that although life satisfaction is moderately stable over time, life events can have a strong influence on long-term levels of subjective well-being.

Source: “Unemployment Alters the Set Point for Life Satisfaction” from Psychological Science

Are you doing everything you can? Probably not. Most people don’t work nearly as hard as they could at finding a job.

How do I know that? Because finding a job spikes when unemployment benefits run out:

Putting a limit on the duration of unemployment benefits tends to introduce a “spike” in the job finding rate shortly before benefits are exhausted. Current theories explain this spike from workers’ behavior. We present a theoretical model in which also the nature of the job matters. End-of-benefit spikes in job finding rates are related to optimizing behavior of unemployed workers who rationally assume that employers will accept delays in the starting date of a new job, especially if these jobs are permanent. We use a dataset on Slovenian unemployment spells to test this prediction and find supporting evidence. We conclude that the spike in the job finding rate suggests that workers exploit unemployment insurance benefits for subsidized leisure.

Source: “Why is there a spike in the job finding rate at benefit exhaustion?” from Centre for Economic Policy Research

Already have a job? You still need to be networking:

Previous research has reported effects of networking, defined as building, maintaining, and using relationships, on career success. However, empirical studies have relied exclusively on concurrent or retrospective designs that rest upon strong assumptions about the causal direction of this relation and depict a static snapshot of the relation at a given point in time. This study provides a dynamic perspective on the effects of networking on career success and reports results of a longitudinal study. Networking was assessed with 6 subscales that resulted from combining measures of the facets of (a) internal versus external networking and (b) building versus maintaining versus using contacts. Objective (salary) and subjective (career satisfaction) measures of career success were obtained for 3 consecutive years. Multilevel analyses showed that networking is related to concurrent salary and that it is related to the growth rate of salary over time. Networking is also related to concurrent career satisfaction. As satisfaction remained stable over time, no effects of networking on the growth of career satisfaction were found.

Source: “Effects of networking on career success: A longitudinal study.” from Journal of Applied Psychology

You really have to be resourceful. That word is key in my book. Resourceful. You can work “hard” and be headed in the totally wrong direction. You can work long hours and accomplish nothing.

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What can you accurately tell about a person just by looking at their face?

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A lot, actually:

Several studies have demonstrated some accuracy in personality attribution using only visual appearance. Using composite images of those scoring high and low on a particular trait, the current study shows that judges perform better than chance in guessing others’ personality, particularly for the traits conscientiousness and extraversion. This study also shows that attractiveness, masculinity and age may all provide cues to assess personality accurately and that accuracy is affected by the sex of both of those judging and being judged. Individuals do perform better than chance at guessing another’s personality from only facial information, providing some support for the popular belief that it is possible to assess accurately personality from faces.

Source: Using composite images to assess accuracy in personality attribution to faces” from British Journal of Psychology

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How can you improve learning while you sleep?

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Economists are fond of telling us that “people respond to incentives.” It seems that’s true even when we’re passed out on the couch:

Sleep is known to promote the consolidation of motor memories. In everyday life, typically more than 1 isolated motor skill is acquired at a time, and this possibly gives rise to interference during consolidation. Here, it is shown that reward expectancy determines the amount of sleep-dependent memory consolidation. Subjects were trained on 2 different sequences of a finger sequence motor task before 12-hr retention intervals of either nocturnal sleep or daytime wakefulness. After training was finished, reward expectancy was varied by announcing a monetary reward for performance improvement at retesting on either the first- or second-trained sequence. Before the retest, however, subjects were informed that reward would depend not on only 1 sequence but on the average performance for both sequences. Posttraining sleep enhanced overall finger sequence performance. The sleep-dependent gain in skill was significantly greater for the sequence that was associated with monetary reward after training, regardless of whether this sequence was the first or second to be trained. After wake retention intervals, no or only minor performance gains were observed. The data show that expectancy for a reward enhances offline learning of a skill during sleep.

Source: Anticipated reward enhances offline learning during sleep. from Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition –

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Does darkness increase dishonesty?:

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Yes, it does:

via boston.com

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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