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Unveiling Human Behavior: Interesting Slices of Life

Dive into a world of intriguing human behavior with these captivating slices of life. Discover how different workdays impact creativity, the universal norm of kindness, the nuances of AI in conversation, the science behind champagne bubbles, and a fresh perspective on the classic “invisible gorilla experiment.” Explore the fascinating dynamics of our daily existence.

Good day, workers shine

Researchers surveyed more than 11,000 workers and found there are five “types” of workday. The day types were:

  • Toxic: Low in stimulation, freedom and support but high in obstacles such as time pressure and conservative attitudes.
  • Disengaged: Low in stimulation and obstacles.
  • Typical: Average levels of stimulation and obstacles.
  • Ideal: High in stimulation, low in obstacles, with moderate levels of time pressure.
  • Crisis: High in stimulation and obstacles, with “good conflict” involving grappling with key work problems.

Creative output was found to be significantly impacted by the type of day the worker experienced. While workers estimated their creative output was as high on Crisis as on Ideal days, in fact it was much higher on Ideal days. Management plays a major role in the type of day a worker experiences. Structuring work so that days are variable and Crisis and Toxic days are minimised will support creative ideation in the long term.

Source: Journal of Product Innovation Management

Universal kindness

For a new study, researchers analysed video recordings of everyday life from diverse countries including England, Italy, Poland, Russia, Ecuador, Ghana, Laos and Australia. Their focus was on instances where one person asked another for help or assistance either by asking directly or by struggling with a task. The tasks involved low-cost decisions about sharing an item or providing assistance. The data revealed that across all cultures people complied with requests for help 79 per cent of the time, rejected requests 10 per cent, and ignored them 11 per cent of the time. People helped without explanation, but if they refused to help then on 74 per cent of those occasions they gave an explanation. These figures held true whether interacting with family or non-family members. We are focusing a lot on the narcissistic, selfish behaviour in the world, but this study shows that small acts of kindness are a cross-cultural human norm.

Source: Scientific Reports

AI in conversation

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being used to develop smart-reply platforms that help you compose text when corresponding with someone. AI uses large language models to predict plausible next responses. These AI responses are more efficient and positive, but research shows that when people perceive that AI is being used to respond to them, they regard their partner as being less co-operative and they feel less connected with them., that’s one of the interesting slices of life.

Source: Scientific Reports

Champagne rising

Other interesting slices of life: if you drink champagne, beer or sparkling water, and if you are a keen observer, you might have noticed that the bubbles in these drinks behave differently. In champagne the bubbles rise rapidly to the top in single file and a straight line. In beer the bubbles can sometimes have this straight-line action, but mostly they veer away to the side, making for a more chaotic bubble appearance. In sparkling water the bubbles are always unstable in their action. Researchers believe that bubble behaviour comes down to the presence of protein-containing molecules called surfactants which do two things: they reduce the surface tension in bubbles and help them move through the wake flow left by other bubbles. In champagne these surfactants give flavour and are always present, while they are only occasionally present in beer depending on the beer style, and they are never present in sparkling water.

Source: Physical Review Fluids

Revisiting the gorilla

The famous “invisible gorilla experiment” involved subjects watching a video of people passing a basketball and counting how many times they passed it. During the video a person in a gorilla suit walked slowly into the video but observers frequently failed to see it. This is “inattentional blindness”, focusing on something and failing to see something else. In a new study, researchers repeated the experiment, with the exception that the “gorilla” moved sometimes either a little faster than the original experiment or a lot faster. The results showed that subjects were much more likely to notice the gorilla if it was moving substantially faster than it had in the original experiment. The researchers concluded that humans and other animals have a “sentinel” system that constantly monitors the environment for potential threats, and speed is an indication of a fast-moving predator. Hence, the slow-moving original gorilla may not have been noticed.

Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Article Featured in WellBeing 206

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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