Does darkness increase dishonesty?:

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Eric Barker  -  
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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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Does obvious flattery work?

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Eric Barker  -  
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Absolutely:

Participants in the study were asked to evaluate the merits of a new department store opening in the area based on one of the store’s advertisements. In addition to describing the new store’s offerings, the ad lauded readers for their impeccable sense of style and eye for high fashion. While participants overwhelmingly categorized the pamphlet as flattery with the ulterior motive of pushing blouses, the experimenters were more interested in how their attitudes would be influenced at the implicit level. Might participants develop a non-conscious positive association with the department store, even after rejecting the ad as meaningless puffery? And if so, would this implicit reaction be a better predictor of decisions and behavior down the road? Will even the people who are wise to advertising tricks end up at the register, credit card in hand?

It turns out that implicit attitudes towards the store were more positive than explicit attitudes. They were also better predictors of reported likelihood of making future purchases, as well as likelihood of joining the store’s club. So it seems that while participants quickly dismissed these ads at the explicit level, the flattery was exerting an important effect outside their awareness.

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Are narcissists more charming?:

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Eric Barker  -  
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Initially, yes. Later on, nope:

On the basis of a realistic behavioral approach, the authors showed that narcissists are popular at zero acquaintance and aimed to explain why this is the case. In Study 1, a group of psychology freshmen (N = 73) judged each other on the basis of brief self-introductions using a large round-robin design (2,628 dyads). Three main findings were revealed: First, narcissism leads to popularity at first sight. Second, the aspects of narcissism that are most maladaptive in the long run (exploitativeness/entitlement) proved to be most attractive at zero acquaintance. Third, an examination of observable verbal and nonverbal behaviors as well as aspects of physical appearance provided an explanation for why narcissists are more popular at first sight. Results were confirmed using judgments of uninvolved perceivers under 3 different conditions for which the amount of available information was varied systematically: (a) full information (video and sound, Study 2), (b) nonverbal information only (video only, Study 3), or (c) physical information only (still photograph of clothing, Study 4). These findings have important implications for understanding the inter- and intrapersonal dynamics of narcissism.

Source: Why are narcissists so charming at first sight? Decoding the narcissism–popularity link at zero acquaintance. from Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Okay, they’re more charming, but are they more physically attractive?

And if we’re so charmed by them you may be wondering if the traits we prefer in potential mates are the traits we value in ourselves.

Speaking of being attracted to the wrong things, do women prefer men who are already attached?

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