WTF Fun Fact 13537 – Apologies in the Workplace

In a study by the University of Arizona, researchers revealed that non-stereotypical apologies in the workplace can enhance communication. This study challenges conventional norms, emphasizing the power of breaking gender stereotypes in apologies to repair trust and foster collaboration.

Gender Stereotypes and Apologies in the Workplace

Sarah Doyle led a research team to explore the nuances of effective apologies in professional settings. Their focus? The impact of gender stereotypes on the perception of apologies. Traditional masculine language, characterized by assertiveness and confidence, and feminine language, known for its warmth and nurturing qualities, were used as benchmarks. Surprisingly, the research found that apologies that deviate from these gender norms were perceived as more effective.

Celebrity Apologies on Social Media

The research commenced with an analysis of celebrity apologies on Twitter. This platform, a hub for public statements, provided a rich dataset of 87 apology tweets from various celebrities. The response to these tweets revealed a pattern. Female celebrities who used masculine language in their apologies received higher engagement and more positive reactions.

The study extended beyond the virtual world into more relatable workplace scenarios. Researchers created situations involving accountants and nurses making mistakes and issuing apologies. Participants in these studies consistently found counter-stereotypical apologies more effective.

For women, using a counter-stereotypical apology increased the perceived effectiveness by an average of 9.7%, and for men, by 8.2%.

The Impact of Counter-Stereotypical Apologies

This research underscores the importance of moving beyond stereotypical patterns in our apologies. By adopting language and approaches that defy gender norms, individuals can enhance the impact of their apologies, leading to better outcomes in conflict resolution and trust-building.

The findings from the University of Arizona research team suggest that the way we construct apologies is as important as the frequency with which we offer them. This shift in focus from quantity to quality in apologies could pave the way for more effective communication strategies in diverse settings.

The study’s results have significant implications for professional environments, where effective communication is crucial. By encouraging individuals to break free from stereotypical language patterns in apologies, organizations can foster a more inclusive and collaborative atmosphere.

Rethinking the Construction of Apologies in the Workplace

As we move forward, this research encourages a deeper consideration of how we construct our apologies. The study highlights the potential for nuanced, thoughtful apologies to make a substantial difference in interpersonal relationships and professional settings.

The University of Arizona’s study on apology psychology offers a fresh perspective on effective communication. By challenging gender stereotypes in the language of apologies, individuals can enhance trust and collaboration in the workplace. This research not only adds a new dimension to our understanding of apologies but also opens avenues for future exploration in communication dynamics.

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Source: “Apology psychology: Breaking gender stereotypes leads to more effective communication” — ScienceDaily

WTF Fun Fact 13609 – Virtual Meetings and Mental State

In today’s digital age, the word “virtual meetings” frequently appears in our daily calendars. Yet, instead of feeling recharged after these virtual interactions, many of us experience an inexplicable sense of drowsiness.

New research from Aalto University reveals that the culprit behind this fatigue isn’t mental overload but rather mental underload and boredom.

Tackling Fatigue in Virtual Meetings: It’s Not Overload, It’s Underload!

Assistant Professor Niina Nurmi, who spearheaded the study, initially hypothesized that stress levels would surge during remote interactions. Surprisingly, the findings revealed quite the opposite. Nurmi noted, “especially those who were not engaged in their work quickly became drowsy during remote meetings.”

To uncover the heart of the matter, the research team meticulously tracked heart rate variability across virtual and in-person meetings. This analysis spanned nearly 400 meetings and involved 44 knowledge workers. Joining hands with the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, experts at Aalto deployed heart rate monitors to delve deep into the realms of stress and recovery.

Nurmi and her team didn’t just stop at numbers. By integrating physiological methods with ethnographic research, they followed each subject for two workdays. This holistic approach ensured that they captured every event with precise timestamps, ultimately pinpointing the root causes of physiological responses.

The Role of Engagement in Virtual Fatigue

The insights gained from the research were indeed eye-opening. Nurmi stated, “The format of a meeting had little effect on people who were highly engaged and enthusiastic about their work.” These individuals managed to maintain their energy and active participation, even in a virtual setup. Contrastingly, those with lower work engagement and lesser enthusiasm found virtual meetings quite draining.

One major revelation from the study was the profound impact of cognitive cues and sensory input. Engaging in face-to-face interactions naturally keeps our focus sharp. However, virtual meetings often lack these vital stimuli. Nurmi elucidated, “Especially when cameras are off, the participant is left under-stimulated and may start to compensate by multitasking.”

The Pitfalls of Multitasking in Virtual Meetings

While a moderate level of stimulation benefits the brain, multitasking during virtual meetings emerges as a significant concern. The reason? Our brains aren’t wired to handle multiple cognitively demanding tasks at once. Activities like walking, which are automatic, can indeed enhance concentration during virtual meetings. However, attempting to juggle multiple tasks that require cognitive attention can be detrimental.

Nurmi elaborated on this conundrum, emphasizing that if you’re splitting your focus between two demanding tasks, you might miss out on essential discussions in the meeting. Additionally, the relentless need to toggle between tasks exhausts the brain.

Rethinking Virtual Interactions

The digital transformation of workplaces has made virtual meetings an integral part of our professional lives. While they offer numerous benefits, it’s essential to understand the underpinnings of virtual meeting fatigue. As this study from Aalto University highlights, engagement plays a pivotal role in our virtual experiences. By fostering a culture of active participation and minimizing distractions, we can optimize these interactions for better productivity and well-being.

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Source: “Virtual meetings tire people because we’re doing them wrong” — ScienceDaily

WTF Fun Fact 13596 – Morality Judgment

A new study found that we tend to reserve our harshest morality judgment is reserved those within our social circle.

Morality Judgment within Groups

We often assume that we judge those close to us with a gentler touch. Yet, Cornell University’s latest findings suggest otherwise: we tend to be stricter with our own peers, especially when it comes to moral failings.

Morality, the invisible bond that keeps a community united, often sets the standards for judgment. Simone Tang, a significant contributor to the research, states that our ties within a group make us believe its members are more trustworthy. However, a breach in moral conduct by one of our own can potentially tarnish the entire group’s reputation. As a result, to safeguard the group’s integrity, we might end up being more critical of our own members.

The Dynamics of Ingroup vs. Outgroup

Members of the “ingroup” usually have something in common – be it political beliefs, organizational ties, or even nationality. On the flip side, the “outgroup” represents individuals from different backgrounds, nationalities, or institutions. Despite conventional wisdom suggesting favoritism towards ingroup members, the study points out that moral transgressions by ingroup members often invite stricter judgments.

Engaging 2,361 participants, a mix of university students and members of American online communities, the study unveiled intriguing patterns. Participants learned about inappropriate actions, either by an ingroup or an outgroup member. A clear distinction emerged when comparing reactions to moral violations like gender discrimination with non-moral ones like tardiness. Ingroup members committing moral violations faced tougher criticism, hinting at the value people place on preserving the moral fabric of their community.

Real-world Implications

Shedding light on larger societal issues, Tang highlights the implications of their findings in contemporary politics. The growing polarization might not just be an ‘us versus them’ scenario. Instead, as the research suggests, harsh judgments against opposing views may arise from viewing adversaries as part of the same larger group, say, fellow Americans. This perspective shift offers a fresh lens to understand the rising internal divisions within major societal groups.

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Source: “Familiarity breeds contempt for moral failings” — ScienceDaily

WTF Fun Fact 13590 – Choosing Ignorance

When faced with moral decisions, many people are choosing ignorance about the repercussions of their actions. Recent studies explore why individuals might select the path of willful ignorance, and the findings are illuminating.

The Study of Choosing Ignorance

What makes a person deliberately overlook the consequences of their actions? According to the American Psychological Association, 40% of individuals, when given the choice, will opt for ignorance. More intriguingly, they often do so to give themselves leeway to act selfishly.

As lead author Linh Vu, MS, from the University of Amsterdam, describes it: “Everyday scenarios frequently show people choosing ignorance. A classic instance is when customers disregard the ethically questionable origins of products they purchase.” The pressing question that Vu and her colleagues grappled with was the extent and implications of such intentional ignorance.

The findings stem from a meta-analysis of 22 individual studies, encompassing a whopping 6,531 participants. These studies either took place in a research lab setting or online. A majority of these research initiatives followed a design where participants received information about the ramifications of their decisions, while others had the discretion to know or not.

Consider this example: Participants had to select between a $5 reward and a $6 reward. Choosing the former meant an anonymous person (or charity) would receive the same amount. If they opted for the latter, the anonymous entity would get a mere dollar. Some participants could decide whether to know the consequences, while others were informed outright.

A consistent finding across these studies? An astounding 40% actively chose ignorance. Furthermore, those who opted not to be informed were significantly less altruistic. There was a 15.6% greater likelihood of individuals showing generosity when they were cognizant of the results of their decisions.

Benevolence or Self-Image?

The research suggests that this inclination towards choosing ignorance could be linked to one’s desire to project a positive self-image. Willful ignorance permits individuals to retain this self-perception, even if they don’t act altruistically.

Study co-author Shaul Shalvi, a behavioral ethics professor at the University of Amsterdam, further shed light on this phenomenon. Individuals who sought to know the consequences were 7% more inclined to show generosity than those automatically provided with information. It indicates genuinely altruistic folks prefer to be in the know about their actions’ aftermath.

Shalvi points out, “A vast portion of altruistic tendencies we notice stems from societal expectations. While many willingly make ethical choices when informed of the outcomes, their motivation isn’t always altruistic. Societal pressure and the urge to perceive oneself positively play a significant role. Since righteous deeds often come with sacrifices, such as time, effort, or money, choosing ignorance becomes a convenient escape.”

However, one limitation to note: all studies under this meta-analysis were conducted in Western Europe or the US, or on platforms like Amazon Mechanical Turk. This hints at the need for more diverse research settings in the future. After all, understanding this behavior in its entirety requires a broader perspective and could provide clues on countering such deliberate oversight.

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Source: “‘I’d rather not know’: Why we choose ignorance” — ScienceDaily

WTF Fun Fact 13320 – The Fear of Other People’s Opinions

Allodoxaphobia is the name for fear of other people’s opinions. It’s a relatively uncommon phobia, but it can affect individuals of all ages and backgrounds. People with allodoxaphobia can experience intense anxiety and distress when confronted with opinions that differ from their own. They may also fear being asked to share their own opinions.

Fearing other people’s opinions

The word “Allodoxaphobia” comes from the Greek words “allo” (meaning “other”), “doxa” “meaning “opinion”), and “phobia” (meaning “fear”). Researchers typically associate this phobia with social anxiety rather than just rejecting other people’s opinions. In fact, it can have a significant negative impact on an individual’s personal and professional life (then again, so can rejecting other people’s opinions).

Symptoms of allodoxaphobia can vary widely and will depend on the severity of the phobia. Some allodoxaphobics have physical symptoms like sweating, shaking, and nausea. Others may have emotional symptoms like intense fear, panic, and avoidance of situations where opinions are likely to be expressed.

How does a person develop allodoxophobia?

The causes of allodoxaphobia are not fully understood. Like many phobias, it’s likely caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Some researchers suggest that individuals with a history of anxiety or other mental health conditions may be more likely to develop allodoxaphobia.

Treatment for allodoxaphobia typically involves therapy. But in severe cases, anti-anxiety medication may be in order, especially for someone with a severe phobia that they are trying to overcome through exposure therapy.

Therapists often recommend cognitive-behavioral therapy and different types of psychotherapy along with lifestyle changes like relaxation techniques.

Are we afraid of opinions that don’t match our own?

This phobia is very rare. People who get upset by competing opinions are not necessarily phobic.

People who have irrational reactions to conflicting opinions aren’t necessarily allodoxaphobic. Rather, they may simply lack emotional maturity, the vocabulary to explain their opinion (which can lead to frustration, or be concerned that their opinion will reveal a lack of knowledge on the topic that would embarrass them. These are not the same things as a phobia, which is a medical diagnosis.

However, anger or fear towards the opinions of others can be addressed through self-help techniques or with the help of a qualified mental health professional if they interfere with a person’s life.

In some cases, allodoxaphobia appears to be related to a fear of change or a fear of being wrong. These people may also feel a strong need for certainty and control, which can make it difficult for them to accept differing opinions or beliefs.

While it is normal and healthy to have personal opinions and beliefs, it’s important to remember that everyone has the right to their own thoughts and feelings. By learning to be open-minded and respectful of differing opinions allodoxaphobic people can overcome their fear of other people’s opinions and lead more fulfilling lives. But it can help all of us cope with everyday life in the 21st century.

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Source: “Allodoxaphobia (A complete guide)” — Optimist Minds

WTF Fun Fact 13265 – Loud Music in Restaurants

Have you ever noticed loud music in restaurants during prime dinner or drink hours or on popular nights for socializing? Well, there’s a reason for that. Loud music makes us eat and drink more and do it faster.

Why is there such loud music in restaurants?

Restaurants often play music that is louder and faster-paced during peak hours, such as Friday and Saturday nights. This is done to create a sense of energy and excitement, which can lead diners to eat faster and order more food and drinks.

Studies have shown that loud music can increase consumption by up to 25%.

One study from France (cited below, from EurekAlert) showed how it works:

“Researchers discretely visited two bars for three Saturday evenings in a medium-size city located in the west of France. The study subjects, 40 males 18 to 25 years of age, were unaware that they were being observed; only those who ordered a glass of draft beer (25 cl. or 8 oz.) were included. With permission from the bar owners, observers would randomly manipulate the sound levels (either 72 dB, considered normal, or 88 dB, considered high) of the music in the bar (Top 40 songs) before choosing a participant. After the observed participant left the bar, sound levels were again randomly selected and a new participant was chosen.

Results showed that high sound levels led to increased drinking, within a decreased amount of time.”

Creating ambiance

Restaurants use a variety of strategies to create a certain ambiance and atmosphere for their customers. Music is one of the most effective tools they have. While music can certainly enhance the dining experience by creating a mood or setting a tone, it can also have a subconscious impact on how much and how quickly we eat.

For example, one study found that diners who were exposed to loud, fast-paced music ate their meals more quickly. They also drank more than those who listened to slower, softer music or no music at all. Another study found that diners who were exposed to music with a tempo of 130 beats per minute (the same tempo as many popular dance songs) consumed more food and drinks. People consumed less when they listened to music with a slower tempo.

This effect is not just limited to music. Other environmental factors such as lighting, decor, and the color of the plates and walls can influence our eating habits. People tend to eat less when they are in a relaxing environment with dim light and muted colors.

So next time you’re dining out on a busy night, be aware of the music. It might be influencing your eating habits more than you realize!

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Source: “Loud music can make you drink more, in less time, in a bar” — EurekAlert

WTF Fun Fact 13232 – Belief in Conspiracy Theories

According to psychological research, conspiracy theorists tend to score higher on measures of paranoia, distrust, and cynicism. They are more likely to have a suspicious and skeptical view of the world which can make them more likely to see hidden motives and conspiracies in events and the actions of others. The belief in conspiracy theories is multifaceted.

What research helps explain some people’s belief in conspiracy theories?

There are several psychological factors that contribute to why some people believe in conspiracy theories. One is the need for a sense of control and predictability. Conspiracy theories may offer a sense of control and predictability in a complex and uncertain world. By attributing events to a hidden, powerful force, people can feel like they understand why things are happening and that they have some control over their fate.

A variety of cognitive biases, such as the tendency to seek out information that confirms their existing beliefs and ignore information that contradicts them help influence people’s beliefs and reasoning. This can lead to a reinforcement of conspiracy beliefs and resistance to accepting evidence-based explanations.

People may be more likely to believe in conspiracy theories if they have a low level of trust in mainstream institutions. These usually include the government and media. Believers may view these institutions as untrustworthy or corrupt. This forces them to turn to alternative sources of information that support their beliefs.

Conspiracy theories can provide a sense of uniqueness and identity, particularly for individuals who feel marginalized or disconnected from mainstream society. Believing in a conspiracy theory can make people feel special and part of a group with shared beliefs.

People are more likely to believe in conspiracy theories when other believers are part of their social circle. Social influence can be a powerful motivator too. Most people are often more likely to adopt beliefs and attitudes that are prevalent within their social network.

A complex context

Research on the belief in conspiracy theories suggests that there’s more to it than just a lack of critical thinking or an overactive imagination. Instead, people’s belief in conspiracy theories may be rooted in deeper psychological processes and motivations.

According to psychological research, conspiracy theorists tend to score higher on measures of paranoia, distrust, and cynicism. They are more likely to have a suspicious and skeptical view of the world. This can make them more likely to see hidden motives and conspiracies in events and the actions of others.

Additionally, research has shown that conspiracy theorists tend to have a unique information-processing style, characterized by a tendency to selectively attend to and remember information that supports their beliefs, and to ignore or discount information that contradicts their beliefs. This can lead to a reinforcement of conspiracy beliefs and a resistance to accepting evidence-based explanations.

The cultural context for conspiracy theories

In a research article from Frontiers in Psychology (cited below) was conducted in three countries. Researchers assessed participants based on their levels of paranoia, conspiracy mentality, and mistrust of different institutions (e.g. government, media, science).

The results revealed that different forms of mistrust are associated with paranoid beliefs and conspiracy mentality. Paranoid beliefs associate more strongly with mistrust of government and interpersonal relationships, while conspiracy mentality associates more strongly with mistrust of media and science.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Paranoid beliefs and conspiracy mentality are associated with different forms of mistrust: A three-nation study” — Frontiers in Psychology

WTF Fun Fact 13183 – The Gruen Transfer

We’ve all fallen victim to the Gruen Transfer. In fact, stores, casinos, and malls are built around this theory in order to make us fall victim to it. The payoff is more spending on our part.

What is the Gruen Transfer?

Have you ever gone to a store and just started wandering around? Plenty of us can run in and out for what we need, but it’s hard to not start wandering occasionally, just to see if there’s anything else we might need or want. And that’s the whole point.

Marketers and designers specifically build floor plans and displays that disorient us and lure us in. It’s all designed to give us a general desire to keep shopping and looking at things. If you just go to Target for fun, you’re WAY deep into the Gruen Transfer.

According to Gizmodo (cited below): “The Gruen transfer is the idea that the shopping experience itself was worth doing, and that paying money for something not on any specific agenda was the agenda.”

Of course, it’s all about getting you to consume more things.

Who was Victor Gruen?

The Gruen Transfer “mind trick” is named after architect Victor Gruen. But he’s probably rolling over in his grave since he hated the idea of disorienting consumers. His goal was to put items people needed in the same general location for convenience.

What his goal WASN’T was to confuse people and make them feel disoriented. In fact, Gizmodo’s article on the Gruen Effect (cited below) brings this to the fore, noting that “Gruen wasn’t a fan of the transfer at all. He railed against confusing, maddening stores that baffled consumers. In fact, his whole idea of a mall was based on efficiency on a very wide scale.”

“And, because there were only so many ways to design efficiently, many stores would be standardized. But Gruen wanted something more. Shopping places, he thought, should feature gardens, benches, cafes, and courtyards. It should be an experience. Then things like malls wouldn’t just be commercial zones, but would serve as public gathering places, where everyone, from every level of society, could mingle. He wanted to entice people, and get people to interact with each other, not confuse them.”

Making the transfer

Nevertheess, his name became associated with what the marketers and other designers did with his ideas. It became applicable within a store as well – such as a grocery store. Confusion reigns so you can see more things you might want to buy. The same is true of casinos. It’s easy for people to become disoriented, spend more time there, and part with more money.

Gruen just wanted public space for all. Now those places are ones where you can’t go to socialize anymore. You can only be there if you plan to shop.

As Gizmodo notes: “And so the guy who wanted to provide a public space, where everyone could get their shopping done so they could socialize, ended up inventing a system in which socialization equals shopping.”  WTF fun facts

Source: “The cruel irony of the Gruen Transfer” — Gizmodo

WTF Fun Fact 13180 – Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia

Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words. And someone clearly had a sense of humor when they created it to be one of the longest words in the English dictionary.

What is hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia?

Well, for starters, the tongue-twister isn’t officially recognized by the American Psychological Association’s DSM 5 (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is used to make diagnoses) as an actual phobia. It’s more of a curiosity and an excuse to show off your language skills.

One can also refer to the fear of long words as “sesquipedalophobia.”

But before you think it’s ridiculous, note that psychologists do categorize hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia as a social phobia.

According to the DSM-5, criteria for social phobias require a patient to have the following:

  • a fear or anxiety about social situations where a person may be examined, like meeting new people or having a conversation
  • the fear or anxiety is disproportionate to the social situation
  • the fear or anxiety is persistent, and the social situation is excessively avoided
  • the fear, anxiety, or avoidance causes clinical distress

What causes such a unique phobia?

According to Healthline (cited below), social phobias like this can be associated with a negative event that was scary or traumatic at the time, a family history of phobias or other mental health issues, a person’s environment (especially if they see someone else develop a similar phobia), and changes in brain function. It’s certainly not something to make light of or ignore.

However, people may not seek treatment for fear of stigma, even from doctors. They’re more likely to take jobs or lead lifestyles that don’t require them to use long words. And there’s no official “limit” of word length that qualifies someone for this phobia.

The good news is that there are treatments and coping mechanisms one can explore with a professional to help someone afflicted with hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia, whether it’s helping them manage anxiety symptoms or overcome their fear altogether with training.

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Source: “What is hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia?” — Healthline