Business history is dotted with stories of opportunities lost because people within companies were unsuccessful in pitching their ideas. And those neglected opportunities were consequential. Competitors seized market share that could have been kept and increased if the good idea had been adopted. Take the minivan. Who came up with that idea — Chrysler? No. Ford engineers came up with that idea — they called it the van-wagon — but they couldn’t convince management that customers would buy it. In fact, one executive who endorsed it, Hal Sperlich, was fired and went on to lead the effort at Chrysler, which then dominated the minivan world for many years. Ford lost out. … -John A. Daly, Advocacy: Championing Ideas and Influencing Others
In this world, there are winners and losers — and, for your own safety, it is best to fear the winners. A new study found that winners — those who outperformed others on a competitive task — acted more aggressively against the people they beat than the losers did against the victors.
“It seems that people have a tendency to stomp down on those they have defeated, to really rub it in,” said Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University.
“Losers, on the other hand, don’t really act any more aggressively than normal against those who defeated them.” -Science Daily
- People who perceive their car as a reflection of their self-identity are more likely to behave aggressively on the road and break the law.
- People with compulsive tendencies are more likely to drive aggressively with disregard for potential consequences.
- Increased materialism, or the importance of one’s possessions, is linked to increased aggressive driving tendencies.
- Young people who are in the early stages of forming their self-identity might feel the need to show off their car and driving skills more than others. They may also be overconfident and underestimate the risks involved in reckless driving.
- Those who admit to aggressive driving also admit to engaging in more incidents of breaking the law.
- A sense of being under time and pressure leads to more aggressive driving.
“We often hear that people who feel envious of their colleagues try to bring them down by spreading negative rumours, withholding useful information, or secretly sabotaging their work,” says Prof. Aquino, who conducted the study with colleagues from the University of Minnesota, Clemson University in South Carolina and Georgia State University.
However, Aquino says envy is only the fuel for sabotage. “The match is not struck unless employees experience what psychologists call ‘moral disengagement’ — a way of thinking that allows people to rationalize or justify harming others.”
The researchers explain that moral disengagement is most likely to occur when an envious co-worker feels disconnected from others in the workplace. -Science Daily
The rewards outweigh the risks — when you’re in a group, anyway. A new USC study explains why people take stupid chances when all of their friends are watching that they would never take by themselves. According to the study, the human brain places more value on winning in a social setting than it does on winning when you’re alone.
“These findings suggest that the brain is equipped with the ability to detect and encode social signals, make social signals salient, and then, use these signals to optimize future behavior,” Coricelli said.
As Coricelli explained, in private environments, losing can more easily be life-threatening. With no social support network in place, a bad gamble can spell doom.
In group environments, on the other hand, rewards tend to be winner-takes-all. Nowhere is this more clear than in sexual competition, where — to borrow a phrase from racing legend Dale Earnhardt, Sr. — second place is just first loser.
“Among animals, there are strong incentives for wanting to be at the top of the social ranking,” Coricelli said. “Animals in the dominant position use their status to secure privileged access to resources, such as food and mates.” -Science Daily
“I detest most of the members of my family. They are for the most part thieves, misers, bullies, and incompetents. I ran the company for thirty-five years—almost all the time in the midst of relentless bickering. They were my worst enemies, far worse than competing companies or the government”. -Stieg Larrsen, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
“Various studies have suggested that a certain kind of psychological profile gravitates toward the fast-paced, high-pressure environment of the trading floor — and that this profile probably has more than a little in common with psychopathic personality, a clinical condition marked by gregariousness, impulsiveness, dishonesty and lack of empathy.
“A recent study from the University of St. Gallen, in Switzerland, goes one step further. The research, led by forensics expert Pascal Scherrer and prison administrator Thomas Noll, finds that professional stock traders actually outperform diagnosed psychopaths when it comes to competitive and risk-taking behavior.
“According to Der Spiegel, Scherrer and Noll had a group of 28 stockbrokers participate in various simulations and intelligence tests, and then compared their results to a group of psychopaths.
“They found that the traders showed a higher degree of competitiveness than the psychopaths — and that the traders were surprisingly willing to cause harm to their competitors if they thought it would bring them an advantage.” -Huffington Post
“Later, we sat in the sand as the other kids my age played a game of beach volleyball. My father must have seen an opening of some kind, because to my great embarrassment he stood up between matches and asked if I could join in. I tried to refuse, but there was no way to do so without seeming like even more of a loser. I was a decent athlete—I’d played lacrosse and hockey in Baltimore—but did not understand the most basic mechanics involved in keeping a ball up in the air with my forearms.
“While the other kids set and dug and belly flopped for shots, I stood in the corner of the court, praying that the ball would miraculously avoid my jurisdiction. Finally someone spiked the ball right at me, and I did something tragic. I caught it. I glanced at my father, still clutching the thing to my stomach. His eyes were squinched up, fixed somewhere near my feet, as if he couldn’t stand to look me in the face. It took me a second to realize he was staring at my legs.
“At the time, my father’s shame was overshadowed by the disgrace I felt in front of my teammates. Now, though, when I’m watering the plants or jogging around the reservoir near my house, I’ll think of my father’s face that day and feel the punch of that ball in my stomach. I’ll fantasize about all the things I might have done, like clock him in the teeth. Perhaps—at least I tell myself this, I insist on it, because the memory still hurts me deeply—he was really making the face at himself.” -Eric Puchner, Schemes of My Father
For years, psychologists have observed that people routinely overestimate their abilities, said study leader Dominic Johnson, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
Some experts have suggested that overconfidence can be a good thing, perhaps by boosting ambition, resolve, and other traits, creating self-fulfilling prophecies.
But positive self-delusion can also lead to faulty assessments, unrealistic expectations, and hazardous decisions, according to the study—making it a mystery why overconfidence remains a key human trait despite thousands of years of natural selection, which typically weeds out harmful traits over generations.
Now, new computer simulations show that a false sense of optimism, whether when deciding to go to war or investing in a new stock, can often improve your chances of winning. -Christine Dell’Amore, National Geographic News
Photo Credit: Mustafa Khayat on Flickr
For men, significant predictors of infidelity are personality variables, including propensity for sexual excitation (becoming easily aroused by many triggers and situations) and concern about sexual performance failure.
The latter finding might seem counterintuitive, Milhausen said, but other studies have also found this connection. “People might seek out high-risk situations to help them become aroused, or they might choose to have sex with a partner outside of their regular relationship because they feel they have an ‘out’ if the encounter doesn’t go well — they don’t have to see them again.”
For women, relationship happiness is paramount. Women who are dissatisfied with their relationship are more than twice as likely to cheat; those who feel they are sexually incompatible with their partners are nearly three times as likely.
“All kinds of things predict infidelity,” Milhausen said. “What this study says is that when you put all of those things together, for men, personality characteristics are so strong they bounce everything else out of the model. For women, in the face of all other variables, it’s still the relationship that is the most important predictor.” -Science Daily
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