Rituals for loneliness, deciphering fake news and more insights into the latest psychology
Looking for ways to relieve your loneliness? Interested in how to decipher fake news from real? We explore all this and more psychological insights in our latest Life Lines.
Rituals relieve loneliness
In the wake of COVID-19 the experience of a sense of loneliness is becoming more widespread. Researchers have noted that people who experience chronic loneliness often feel that their lives lack meaning. However, we also know that rituals create meaning. While ritual commonly occurs in cultural or religious settings to reinforce shared values, it can also be personal and idiosyncratic. For the new research, subjects were surveyed to establish their levels of loneliness. They were then asked either to perform some of their daily tasks in a ritualised way, or just to continue their tasks as normal. Ritualising daily tasks involved dunking your tea bag in a particular way or opening a biscuit to lick the cream before eating the biscuit. People who performed these rituals felt less lonely and felt their life had more meaning after the action. It really is the little things that can make a difference.
Source: University of California, Riverside
EQ identifies “fake news”
One of the real demons of the information age is “fake news”. In a new study, subjects were given tests to determine their levels of emotional intelligence (EQ or emotional quotient). They were then presented with real and fabricated news stories on issues including health, crime, wealth inequality and the environment. The fake items featured emotive language, brief information and lack of attribution of sources. The subjects were asked to decide which items were real and which were fake. The results showed that those with high EQs were more likely to correctly identify fake news and that there was also a correlation between correct identification and education level. It is possible to be trained to improve your EQ levels. With the veracity of news so pivotal to both our social and political milieu at the moment, some EQ building would go a long way.
Source: PLOS One
When “team building” backfires
If you dread “team-building” events at work, then relax, you are not alone. Trust exercises, Zoom gatherings, sharings and even drinks after work are all things management use to promote bonds between workers. However, researchers from the University of Sydney have found that while some degree of openness and vulnerability is necessary to make effective connection with work colleagues, people often do not like the contrived way that this is done. They found that team-building exercises which focus on sharing of personal attitudes and intervening in relationships can be considered heavy-handed and intrusive. According to the researchers, many people do not welcome their management’s interest in their lives beyond their direct work performance. The researchers recommended an approach that involves people being able to opt out of team-building discreetly so that the choice is not visible to management and restricting the activities to pairs of individuals who choose to be involved.
Source: Social Networks
Reflecting builds resilience
Research shows that while some people are naturally resilient in the face of stressful events, others are less robust and can develop stress-related illnesses. So how can you develop resilience? Researchers have found that self-efficacy, the belief that you have the ability to influence things, is the key to resilience. Self-efficacious people have more activation in parts of the brain involved in emotional regulation. This study involved people who were distressed by a negative emotional memory. Half were asked to recall a positive event or beautiful experience, while half were asked to remember a self-efficacious event such as passing an exam or doing a successful presentation. Those who recalled their own self-efficacy found it easier to see a negative situation in a new light and perceived the experience as less distressing. So recalling self-efficacy boosts resilience to current challenging situations.
Did you know?
Seeing is deceiving
If you get your thoughts about the world from social media then you need to keep this in mind: 90 per cent of women report using a filter or editing their photos before posting to change face shape, shave off weight, whiten teeth or alter skin colour. Social media is a huge source of anxiety for young women in particular, and it is worth remembering that most of it is not real.
Source: City, University of London
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