You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘self’ tag.
Mary Poppins used to say that a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down. She was right. Sugar can help all types of medicine go down, including the medicine for a bad temper. According to new research, a spoonful of sugar may be enough to cool a temper for a short time.
A recent study found that people who drank a lemonade sweetened with sugar acted less aggressively toward a stranger a few minutes later than did people who consumed lemonade with a sugar substitute. According to the study’s author, Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University, this phenomenon has to do with the amount of glucose in the bloodstream and brain.
“Avoiding aggressive impulses takes self control, and self control takes a lot of energy. Glucose provides that energy in the brain,” said Bushman. “Drinking sweetened lemonade helped provide the short-term energy needed to avoid lashing out at others.”
Interestingly, over several studies, Bushman and his colleagues found that people who show signs of diabetes or trouble metabolizing sugars in their bodies show more evidence of aggression and less willingness to forgive others. This is crucial because the number of Americans with diabetes has more than tripled (from 5.6 million to 18.1 million).
“Diabetes may not only harm yourself — it is bad for society,” Bushman said. “The healthy metabolism of glucose may contribute to a more peaceful society by providing people with a higher level of energy for self-control.”
“To our knowledge, this is the first study to find that boosting glucose levels can reduce actual aggressive behavior,” Bushman said.
“To be sure, consuming sugar should not be considered a panacea for curbing aggression. But the results do suggest that people who reportedly “snap” with aggression may need some way to boost their mental energy, so they can override their aggressive impulses.”
On a related note, two other studies in the same paper showed how problems metabolizing glucose was linked to violent crime rates. Those states with higher diabetes rates also tended to have higher rates of murder, assault, rape and robbery, even after controlling for poverty rates in each state.
“This suggests that diabetes did not predict violent crime simply because poverty contributes to both diabetes and violent crime,” said Bushman “There is a real correlation between diabetes and violence.” Another study found similar results on a worldwide scale.
A further study conducted by the same researchers found that people with higher levels of diabetic symptoms were less likely to forgive others for their transgressions.
“These studies are more evidence that diabetic symptoms may cause difficulty in how people relate to each other on a day-to-day basis,” Bushman said.
This research is similar to what I have previously reported in my article, Self Control, Radishes and Change. It is interesting to see that this study confirms the belief people only have so much patience and self control. The implications for mediation an negotiations are interesting.
First, many mediations will go on for many hours. I have heard some people even say that they believe starving a person during mediation will make them more amenable to agreeing to something. I think – and the research seems to confirm – that like a cold, you must feed patience; and apparently patience likes sugar.
Second, an afternoon snack of some sort might even help the parties to come to resolution.
As a negotiator, if you are entering long negotiations, you should make sure that you bring your own food. I have a chapter on this issue in my book, 112 Ways to Succeed In Any Negotiation or Mediation
This study also lends support to another previous study that found that people are more willing to agree to a request to pay money to a charity after eating than before. The glucose level is changing their perception. The same would also hold true in mediation and negotiations. People should be more willing to agree to a resolution after a meal. So maybe the best time to make the deal is right after lunch or dinner.
- C. Nathan DeWall, Timothy Deckman, Matthew T. Gailliot, Brad J. Bushman. Sweetened blood cools hot tempers: physiological self-control and aggression.Aggressive Behavior, 2010; DOI: 10.1002/ab.20366
One of the most common things that people say when trying to understand how an action might affect another person is to say, “put yourself in the other person’s shoes.” Recent research, however, demonstrates that putting yourself in another’s shoes may not be the best way to understand how that person views your actions.
According to psychologist, Jeremy Dean, we normally try to work out how we are viewed by others by thinking about how we view ourselves, then extrapolating from that. The problem with this approach, says Dean, is that to varying degrees we all suffer from an ‘egocentric bias:’ we think we’re at the center of the world and everything is about us. We shouldn’t be blamed for this — it’s a natural consequence of the fact that we’re locked inside our own heads.
However, other people aren’t limited by our own perceptions of ourselves. They see us from an outside perspective. So why is it that we are so incorrect in judging how others view us. According to Dean, part of the reason that we get it wrong so often is that that we follow the advice to put ourselves in others’ shoes in order to understand their perspective.
According to the new research by researchers Eyal and Epley (2010), it may be better to use abstract thinking to get a better view of the way others see you. In one experiment, the researchers split their participants into two groups to compare their ability to view themselves from the outside. Participants were trying to judge how attractive they were to another person. The first group adopted the standard tactic of putting themselves in the other person’s shoes, while the second group was asked to imagine they would be rated by the other person in several months’ time.
People trying to put themselves in the other person’s shoes were awful at the task.
But when participants thought about their future selves, a technique that encourages abstract thinking, their accuracy increased considerably, although not perfect.
The reality is that we cannot see the forest from the trees when it comes to perceptions of how others view ourselves, says Dean. But allowing ourselves to think in broad terms and abstractly lets us realize that there is a forest and not just trees; and in turn, we have a better understanding of the trees.
This technique of abstract thinking may be helpful in the mediation context. Specifically, when a person has a hard time of evaluating the matter from another perspective, it might be helpful to have them first think about abstract concepts. For example, asking a client to think about the value of lawsuits in society, or the value of juries in society, might just start that person towards thinking about how a jury might react to his or her case.
Eyal, T. & Epley, N. (2010). How to Seem Telepathic: Enabling Mind Reading by Matching Construal. Psychological Science. DOI: 10.1177/0956797610367754.