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Which one convinces you more? If I told you that 90% of the time people lose their medical malpractice actions or that 9 out of 10 people lose their medical malpractice actions.
Many of you are saying, there is a no difference. 90% and 9/10 are the same thing. This is where you are wrong 90% of the time.
The human brain is hardwired to make short circuit decisions all the time. There is automatic programming that occurs in making decisions. Otherwise, we would be mired in making decisions.
A new study has discovered that people would prefer large numbers over smaller numbers. The study found that people prefer to receive shipped items in 31 days rather than the same period of one month. In fact, the subjects were willing to pay more money to receive something in 31 days instead of a month.
In one of the tests, the researchers used two different scales, either 1-10 or 1-1,000, to describe television quality and the success rate of a medical procedure; they also fed the subjects warranty lengths in either months or years. Even when the length of time was the same—seven versus nine years, or 94 versus 108 months—the subjects tended to prefer the bigger number. The same thing happened for medical procedures, where an equivalent effectiveness was preferred when it was rated on a thousand-point scale. (QUOTED FROM The “unit effect” makes 31 days seem better than a month).
This concept is also known as the Unit Effect Bias. In other words, people prefer higher numbers rather than lower numbers even though the actual unit is still the same. For example, 1 liter versus 1000 milliliters; 1 month versus 30 days; quarter of a million versus 250,000.
This concept is something that attorneys and mediators should consider when discussing settlement options. Perhaps the settlement terms of payment; maybe the amount of the settlement — 100,000 versus 6 figures; or 2 weeks versus 14 days.
The reality is that in negotiations it is important to understand that our brain may work in many irrational ways.
In every mediation, one of the first questions that arises is not what is the bottom line or what do we need to do to settle the case. Instead, one of the first questions asked by attorneys in mediation is “where is the coffee?” Well recent research has shown that caffeine and sugar in combination can improve the efficiency of brain activity.
According to the Josep M. Serra Grabulosa, one of the main researchers, “our main finding is that the combination of the two substances improves cognitive performance in terms of sustained attention and working memory by increasing the efficiency of the areas of the brain responsible for these two functions.”
I feel that innately I must have always have known this concept because I have from day one of mediation provided plenty of coffee and sugary snacks at my mediations. Indeed, I am a firm believer in making sure that food is always available at mediation.
Food can also help on several other levels. First, food can be for some a comfort. When dealing with tough issues, sugary, pleasant, meaningless treats can provide the comfort to the participants. Anecdotally, I find that in tough mediations where there are a lot of difficult issues, the snacks usually go faster than in easier less complex mediations.
Second, the snacks can help to avoid low sugar mania – when people make bad decisions because they are hungry or low on energy.
Finally, some studies have shown that people are more willing to listen to your ideas or accept a sales pitch after they have eaten. I have dedicated a chapter to this issue in my book, 112 Ways to Succeed In Any Negotiation or Mediation.
So next time you see that coffee and donut in a mediation, you know that you are only helping your cognitive skills by taking them.
By Steven G. Mehta
A new study suggests that our mood literally changes the way our visual system filters our perceptual experience. In other words, seeing the world through rose-colored glasses is not just a metaphor. It also reiterates that people in bad moods will have tunnel vision.
The researchers used MRI’s to investigate the internal working process of the brain. According to the researcher Adam Anderson, a U of Toronto professor of psychology “Good and bad moods literally change the way our visual cortex operates and how we see,” In other words, when we are in a good mood we take in more visual images.
Subjects were first placed in a good or bad mood. Then the subjects were then shown an image, featuring a face surrounded by other images, such as a house. Subjects were asked to identify the gender of the person’s face. When in a bad mood, the subjects did not process the images of places in the surrounding background.
However, when viewing the same images in a good mood, they actually took in more information — they saw the central image of the face as well as the surrounding pictures of houses.
Applying the Research
If possible, I will always try to keep the mood light in a mediation. Although I didn’t have the scientific basis to do so, I now know that the good mood can help the person to visualize more information. This research also leads me to believe that if a good mood can help visual recognition, it can also help to recognize and accept other information that is not just visual – suggestions from the mediator.
Moreover, other research has found that people in good moods are more receptive to suggestions of change than when in bad moods. As such, keeping the participants in good moods can only help with the negotiation and mediation process.
Further, as a negotiator, if you sense that the mood is going darker, perhaps it is not the best time to announce a new concept or term. The mood will likely prevent the person from properly evaluating your new proposal. The bad mood may may keep others too narrowly focused; preventing them from integrating information outside of their direct focus.
Taylor W. Schmitz, Eve De Rosa, and Adam K. Anderson. Opposing Influences of Affective State Valence on Visual Cortical Encoding. Journal of Neuroscience, 2009; 29 (22): 7199 DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5387-08.2009
University of Toronto (2009, June 6). People Who Wear Rose-colored Glasses See More, Study Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 5, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090603103807.htm