Currently viewing the tag: "ego"

Rome visit, June 2008 - 57

“There are two ways you can make an error as a man,” says Perilloux. “Either you think, ‘Oh, wow, that woman’s really interested in me’ — and it turns out she’s not. There’s some cost to that,” such as embarrassment or a blow to your reputation. The other error: “She’s interested, and he totally misses out. He misses out on a mating opportunity. That’s a huge cost in terms of reproductive success.” The researchers theorize that the kind of guy who went for it, even at the risk of being rebuffed, scored more often — and passed on his overperceiving tendency to his genetic heirs. The casual sex seekers “face slightly different adaptive problems,” says Perilloux. “They are limited mainly by the number of consenting sex partners — so overestimation is even more important.” Only the actually attractive men probably had no need for misperception.

The research contains some messages for daters of both sexes, says Perilloux: Women should know the risks and “be as communicative and clear as possible.” Men: “Know that the more attracted you are, the more likely you are to be wrong about her interest.” Again, that may not be as bad as it sounds, she says — “if warning them will prevent heartache later on.” –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Write a scene or story about speed dating from the point of view of a man.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a dating experience where you misread the intentions of your date.

Art Prompt: Speed Dating
Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell a humorous story about a date you went on.

Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon on Flickr

Urban Life

“Simply put, my newfound theory states: The minute a person comes to the erroneous conclusion that he or she controls anything at all in this life, the Universe immediately gets even with the bloody idiot.” -Marilyn Brant, According To Jane

Writing Prompt: Write a scene where your character decides he or she is in control. Then let chaos reign.

Journaling Prompt: How has the Universe shown you that you are not in control?

Art Prompt: The Illusion of Control

Photo Credit: h.koppdelaney on Flickr


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That nice looking black car in the front is an Enzo Ferrari. It will run you a cool mil (American $) to walk off the lot with one. Take two; they’re small. Oh, and don’t forget to order a yacht while you’re here.

…you can’t outearn dumb spending. Just ask all the millionaire celebrities, professional athletes, and lottery winners who end up broke. Let me repeat for emphasis: You can’t outearn dumb spending. -Gregory Karp, The 1-2-3 Money Plan: The Three Most Important Steps to Saving and Spending Smart

Writing Prompt: Create a character sketch for your protagonist showing how he or she makes financial decisions.

Journaling Prompt: How do your emotions affect your spending habits?

Art Prompt: Luxury
Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Give your audience the basic information for setting up a budget in order to avoid emotional spending.

Photo Credit: Damian Morys Foto on Flickr

figurative spires inquire

Of course everyone agrees with me. I’m always right. Right?

We like to think that others agree with us. It’s called “social projection,” and it helps us validate our beliefs and ourselves. Psychologists have found that we tend to think people who are similar to us in one explicit way — say, religion or lifestyle — will act and believe as we do, and vote as we do. Meanwhile, we exaggerate differences between ourselves and those who are explicitly unlike us.

But what about people whose affiliation is unknown — who can’t easily be placed in either the “in-group” or the “out-group”? A new study finds that we think the silent are also our side. –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Write a scene between two characters who have just met. Include their internal monologue
about the assumptions they are making about the other person.

Journaling Prompt: Write about how you feel when you find out that someone who you thought agreed with you actually disagrees.

Art Prompt: Mind Reading

Photo Credit: DerrickT on Flickr

cliff diving

Are your friends a bad influence on you? 

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

Writing Prompt: Write a scene that demonstrates the subtle peer pressure of making decisions in a group.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a time that you made a risky decision that was influenced by the presence of a group of friends.

Art Prompt: Risky decisions

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell a story about a time when you made a risky decision.

Photo Credit: Dana on Flickr


The combination of family and big business is a fertile setting for conflict and secrecy.

“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

Writing Prompt: Create a scene between family members engaged in a struggle for power.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a time when members of your family were engaged in a power struggle.

Art Prompt: Family power struggle

Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt: Write about an historical power struggle that destroyed a family and what lessons we can learn from it.

Photo Credit: Orange County Archives on Flickr


kids playing volleyball on the beach

It gets ugly when a parent starts living through their kid. Here’s a scene from real life.

“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

Writing Prompt: Write about a parent living vicariously through their child.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a time when your parent lived vicariously through you OR when you lived vicariously through your child OR when you observed a parent living vicariously through their child.

Art Prompt: Vicarious

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell a touching story about living vicariously.

Photo Credit:  Guernsey Sports on Flickr


woman looks at sky

The pros and cons of narcissism is fascinating as we watch our culture gets more and more narcissistic. I’ve included just a snippet of the information. If you are writing characters, you’ll want to read the entire article and follow the links in it for more information.

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

Writing Prompt: What is your character overconfident about? How does that benefit her? How does that cause her to make risky decisions?

Journaling Prompt: Write about a time when you were overconfident and how that affected your decision-making.

Art Prompt: Overconfidence

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the benefits of overconfidence

Photo Credit: Mustafa Khayat on Flickr

lost girl

Everyone has flaws. Most of us have mental flaws: thoughts that niggle at us and hold us back from acting on our dreams. Any good hero must face their flaws and overcome them in order to engage the reader in their journey. Villains, too, have mental flaws. Here is a secret about one way to write these flaws:

An assumed constraint is a belief, based on past experience, that limits current and future experiences… Indicators that an assumed constraint may be holding you hostage are negative internal dialogue, excuses, and blaming statements. -Ken Blanchard, Leading at a Higher Level, Revised and Expanded Edition: Blanchard on Leadership and Creating High Performing Organizations
Writing Prompt: Make a list of your protagonist’s assumed constraints. How are each of these shown by his actions and dialogue? How are they driving your story?
Journaling Prompt: Write about one of your assumed constraints and how you would like to challenge it.

Art Prompt: Excuses

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about assumed constraints and how they can overcome them.

Photo Credit: Helga Weber on Flickr

one laptop per child

People are very complicated, rather than all bad or all good. Even a “good” character may base their behavior on whether they think others will see the consequences of their actions.

…people tend to make decisions on the basis of their self-image. If they believe themselves to be “fair” or “generous,” for example, they avoid actions that are clearly egoistic in nature, so as to avoid contradicting their own self-image. However, if… they are able to ignore the consequences for other people, they find it easier to maintain a positive self-image, even if they their behaviour is selfish. “If the consequences are clearly visible, many participants decide to act fairly,” reports Astrid Matthey: “However, if it is possible to ignore the consequences, it is clearly more difficult to opt for a ‘generous’ decision, and many change their behaviour and select the egoistic alternative.” –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Explore how your characters justify their actions and why. 

Journaling Prompt: How do other people observing you affect your decisions?

Art Prompt: Self-image
Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Talk about motivation in decision making and how appearances affect what we choose to do.

Photo Credit: One Laptop per Child on Flickr