Tag Archives: Society

Communication: how to get the message across

12 March

#CommunicationSkills #CarmenHarra #All4Women #VerbalSkills #Communication

I will dare to suggest that communication is the force that drives modern society. Sometimes the message gets a bit scrambled and the outcome frowned upon, but communicate we do, constantly.

These days we rely mostly on ‘virtual’ means of communication. We text, send voice notes, Skype, send e-mails, chat on social media or write blogs, like this one. Yet, sometimes, we are required to actually interact with others. This means that we are expected to communicate, not just verbally, but through body language, tone of voice and facial expressions. Person to person communication is a bit more complicated than just putting together a quick email to send out in bulk to a thousand recipients.

Carmen Harra wrote a very insightful article for All 4 Women about the golden rules of communication. This is something the younger generation, who seem to be more skilled at thumb-tapping texts at the speed of light, than actual speech, may find quite useful. Even more experienced speakers may learn something. I know I did and I LOVE talking, but there is a difference between purposeful interaction and just chatting a mile a minute.

If you’ve ever had trouble to get your message across, Harra’s article will give you plenty guidance. Here are the first 4 of her 7 golden rules for communication:

  1. Listen first, speak later.
  2. Watch your body language — relaxed and natural helps deliver the message.
  3. Write down your thoughts before you speak them.
  4. Know your audience — target your words to their specific needs.

Want to find out how to use these and the other 3 rules in your communication at home, work and socially?? Read her article here.

SOURCE:

HARRA, Carmen.  2018.  Article: 7 Golden rules of communication.  All 4 Women: https://www.all4women.co.za/803084/relationships/marriage/7-golden-rules-communication.   Short link: bit.ly/2DhZSn3

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What Happened When I Stopped #Complaining for Two Weeks #BetterLife #HolisticCounseling #SelfImprovement #PersonalGrowth #Behavior #Society

Via @HealthyLiving

Alexii Lardis, author for the Huffington Post, challenged herself and, for 15 days in August, she ”fasted from complaining” [1]. She stopped yelling at those irritating drivers that seem to have NO common sense, much less common decency, she stopped saying: ”I’m tired”, come 3 o’clock at the office, etc.

I was intrigued….it turned out that, after the fifteen days, she realized something extremely valuable about herself.

Here it is: ”The top five things that occurred when I stopped complaining, both the good and the bad…[excerpt only, read full article here.]

  1. I realized that I don’t sleep enough. The biggest complaint that I had to bite my tongue on? “I’m tired.”
  2. I argued less: I’m not exactly one to pick a fight, but I noticed how many stupid arguments I can have in a week….I’m pretty sure we’ve been told since kindergarten, “Think before you speak” but I noted how often I neglect this simplest piece of advice.
  3. Angst builds up. Here’s the deal: this experience was overall a positive experience for me. It truly made me reflect on my reactions to situations.
  4. Negativity is a state of mind: When you stop yourself from uttering negative speech, you begin to notice how negative your thought process tends to be.
  5.  

    I prayed more. If I was forced to turn the negative into the positive, I turned to God.

Her conclusion? “People have good days and people have bad days — but the truth is? It’s all about your outlook.” [1]

A valuable lesson this….and, to quote Epictetus: ”It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” [2]

[Please read the full article by ms Lardis here.]

Source:

  1. LARDIS, ALEXII.  2015/09/06  What Happened When I Stopped Complaining for Two Weeks on HuffPost  [Web:] HuffingtonPost.  [Date of Access:]  10 September 2015.
  2. GOODREADS.  n.d.  Quotes: Epictetus.  [Web:] Goodreads Quotes.  [Date of Access:  10 September 2015.

3 Ways to Stop Offensive People From Offending You

Via @PsychToday

Expert ideas to get people to stop parking illegally, jaywalking, and much more.

By Adam Grant on www.psychologytoday.com

With Festivus coming up next month, I’m starting my list of grievances. I’ll start with the woman who touched my baby’s face at the grocery store. What a giver—she shared her germs without asking for anything in return. And then there’s the guy who parked in a space reserved for expectant mothers. Dude, a beer belly does not entitle you to claim that you’re pregnant.

My favorite business author, Dan Pink, is on a mission to fix these kinds of problems. He’s the host of “Crowd Control,” a new show on the National Geographic Channel that uses social science to change some of the most irritating behaviors we see in everyday life. After writing bestsellers likeDrive and To Sell Is Human, giving a wildly popular TED talk, and serving as a chief speechwriter in the White House, Dan is uniquely qualified to make our days a bit less miserable.

In the first episode, he takes on speeding drivers, jaywalking pedestrians, and people who go one ugly step beyond stealing spots reserved for pregnant women: They park their cars in spaces reserved for the disabled.

Here’s a sneak preview of three lessons learned:

  1. Fear isn’t always the best strategy.

    To scare jaywalkers, Dan first puts a sign on the ground: “Be late. Not dead.” Some pedestrians stop in their tracks, but others ignore the warning—they don’t believe they’re in danger.

    So instead of highlighting the risks of walking early, Dan finds a clever way to increase the benefits of waiting. He builds a game of virtual tug-of-war, in which pedestrians compete against the people waiting to cross from the other side of the street—and the number of jaywalkers per hour drops by 90%. Some citizens get so absorbed in the game that they forget to cross the street as the light changes multiple times. And there’s a side benefit of the friendly competition: Strangers who would normally walk right past each other now have an excuse to interact.

  2. Offenders need to see their victims.

    A suave guy parks his sports car in a disabled spot. Dan’s team pulls up with a truck, blocking him in as he watches disabled people roll out in wheelchairs. It’s enough to embarrass the guy—he even starts helping to push the wheelchairs—but it’s not scalable. To fuelempathy by bringing more drivers face-to-face with their victims, Dan designs a new sign for handicapped spaces. It has a picture of a disabled driver with the caption, “Think of me, keep it free.”

    All of a sudden, people start doing the right thing. After a full month of surveillance, not a single violator parked in a space with one of these signs in front of it.

  3. Don’t underestimate the power of intermittent rewards.

    Dan’s team is able to cut speeding by a third—without ever issuing a ticket. How? He simply posts a sign announcing that drivers who obey the speed limit will be entered in a lottery to win $100.

After filming 12 episodes of his show, Dan has tackled a wide range of issues—getting Jersey Shore vacationers to use sunscreen, motivating New Orleans residents to clean up Bourbon Street, creating a talking elevator that shames people into taking the stairs, making sure people don’t double-dip a chip, and even adding a bit of entertainment to the wait at the Department of Motor Vehicles. What else we can expect to learn? I asked Dan a few questions:

1. What was your biggest surprise?

“When we were shooting the show, I spent a lot of time watching people in the wild, folks just gliding through their regular lives—on the street, in the office, in a shopping mall, wherever. What amazed me was just how much of the time we operate unconsciously—guided by default behaviors and largely oblivious to what’s happening around us. I’d previously read the research on inattentional blindness, but to see it in action day in and day out was a stunner. It presented a real challenge in changing behavior—which is why we often used novelty, surprise, and sometimes even shock.”

2. How do you recommend handling repeat offenders?

“That’s a tough one. I wonder if some form of social pressure would work. Perhaps we could get a few confederates to approach jaywalkers and say, ‘Hey, you know you just jaywalked. That could be dangerous.’ That might be worth trying in Season 2—though we should probably roll it out in the Midwest rather than, say, the Bronx.”

3. Which takeaway have you applied most often in your life outside the show?

“Explaining why. In one episode, we rewrote in-flight safety announcements so they explained, in vivid terms, why passengers needed to, say, put up their tray tables. That had a big effect when we simulated an air crash and evacuated passengers. Again, I’d read the evidence in the academic literature, but there’s something powerful seeing it in real life. Now if I want someone to do something—whether it’s my kids or a colleague—I’m much more likely to explain why rather than just sternly command or gently suggest.”

Crowd Control” debuts November 24 on the National Geographic Channel at 9pm EST and 9pm PST. It’s really entertaining, it can deepen your understanding of behavior, and it will arm you with some techniques you can use in your own lives. Plus, there’s the sweet satisfaction of seeing a few nasty people get a taste of their own medicine.

Adam is a Wharton professor of management and psychology, and the New York Times bestselling author of Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success. Sign up for his free newsletter at www.giveandtake.com.

The 7 Laws of Impatience

@PsychToday

When does #Impatience cost us dearly? When does it serve us well?

Published on November 19, 2014 by #JimStone, Ph.D. in Clear, Organized and Motivated

 

RossHelen/Shuttershock

Sound familiar?

Have you ever wanted to give up on a paper you were writing? Or give up on school altogether? Have you ever had an interesting project turn frustrating when unexpected complications arose? Have you ever had to sit through school plays and movies you had lost interest in after the first scene? Have you ever had to wait too long to get through line, wait too long for the computer to load, or wait too long for Christmas to roll around?

Who hasn’t, right? We’ve all been impatient at times.

And we’ve all made rash decisions when our impatience got the better of us. We’ve left lines that were barely moving only to get into an even slower line. We’ve taken the pizza out of the oven two minutes early because we just couldn’t wait. Or we’ve blown up a perfectly good relationship because we weren’t sure where it was going, and we couldn’t stand the uncertainty.

We’ve also been overly patient at times, and have stuck with projects, jobs, or relationships long after it made sense to do so.

Which has cost you more in your life? Patience? Or Impatience? Different people will have different answers. Ideally, we’d get it right every time. We’d let our impatience get the better of us when changing course made the most sense, and we’d stay the course when that made most sense. Unfortunately, no one gets it right every time.

But here’s the thing. If we understand impatience better it will give us more power to get it right more of the time. And so I present to you these 7 laws of impatience.

Law One: Impatience is not a lack of patience.

The word ‘impatience’ is ‘im’ + ‘patience’, which, on the face of it, means “a lack of patience”. Just going by their names, patience seem like a substantial thing, or a specific mental process. And, by contrast, impatience is nothing but a lack of patience.

But this gets things backwards. Impatience, it turns out, is a very particular mental/physical process that gets triggered under specific circumstances, and motivates specific kinds of action.1 ‘Patience’ is the shadow term, signifying a lack of impatience. The patient person simply wasn’t triggered to impatience when others normally would be, or she found a way to overcome the impatience that did arise.

Somewhere along the way, we named these states backwards. Impatience should be seen as primary, and patience should be thought of as im-impatience.

Law Two: Impatience is triggered when we have a goal, and we realize it’s going to cost us more than we thought to reach the goal.

If you sit in your room with a blank mind, you will not be impatient. You’re just there. Now, if you decide that you want to go out and do something fun, you have adopted a goal. You are not yet impatient, but you might be setting yourself up for it. Suppose you call a friend to see if she is available to do something, and she is unavailable. Now you might start to grow a little impatient. And the longer it takes to find someone to go out with, the more impatient you will become.

When a child is waiting for Christmas, she might not be impatient at first, but when she begins to realize that she can’t stop thinking about Christmas, she grows impatient. Waiting for Christmas is costing her more than she thought it would in terms of her ability to pay attention to other things in the meantime.

You start writing a book, and you think it will take about 6 months. You’re on schedule, but you get an idea for an even better book. You realize that continuing to write the first book is costing you the opportunity to work on the second book. And you grow impatient.

You’re driving home and think it will take just 20 minutes to get there. But the two cars ahead of you are going ten miles per hour below the speed limit, and they’re driving side by side in the only two lanes on the road. You realize it’s going to take more time than you thought to get home, and you grow impatient.

In general, impatience happens when we have a goal, and we realize it’s going to cost us more than we thought to reach that goal.

Law Three: Impatience motivates us reduce the costs of reaching our goal, or to switch goals.

When we realize it’s going to cost us more than we thought to get to our goal, our mental gears start spinning. We start looking for ways to avoid the additional costs (in time, pain, distraction, credibility or opportunity).

When stuck in traffic, we start looking for strategic lane changing opportunities or alternate routes, or we start signalling to other drivers that we are growing impatient, so they might get out of our way.

When writing one book while dreaming of writing another book, we might try to speed up the process of writing the first book, or set the first book aside to work on the more interesting book.

The child waiting for Christmas might start bargaining with her parents, asking them to let her open one of her presents early. Maybe that will calm her mind for a while.

Law Four: Impatience and indignation are a potent combination.

Recently I was waiting in line at a grocery store, and my line wasn’t moving while the other line was moving right along. I was impatient. But I wasn’t just impatient; I was also a little indignant. The clerk in my line wasn’t checking, but was talking with her manager, and they weren’t communicating anything to us.

So, instead of switching lines, or waiting, I made a minor show of leaving my unpurchased goods at the counter and hurried off to another store. And there was an immature part of my mind whispering: “This will show them.”

In the end it took longer to get my lunch than it would have in the first store, and I was late picking my daughter up from school.

We’re in special danger of making an irrational choice when we run into unexpected costs, and we think the extra costs are someone else’s fault. If, for example, the clerk had told us that the cash register was broken, I still would have become a little impatient, but I would have simply switched lines and got out of there just a little behind schedule.

It was the combination of impatience and indignation that made me act like a fool.

Law Five: Impatience is more likely when we have more options.

When we’re part way done with one project, and get an idea for a better project, we can grow impatient. And, in general, the more options we have, the more prone we will be to impatience.

Any project will have it’s dips. There will be points where we feel on top of things and are optimistic, and other moments where we’re not sure the project will work at all. If we have no other project to work on, we can be fairly patient and just solve the problems as they come.

If, on the other hand, we have a dozen other projects we could be working on, we’re much more likely to abandon the current project when it gets hard. If we do this every time a project gets hard, we might find ourselves with a dozen half-finished projects lying around with nothing useful to show for all our effort.

That’s why Cortez burned his ships when he arrived in the new world. He wanted to take the “return to Europe” option away, so that, when things got difficult, his soldiers would not grow impatient, but would simply solve the problems and continue on the mission.

Cortez had a terrible goal. But he understood the value of limiting options in pursuit of that goal.

Options are good, but having too many options can be bad. Alvin Tofler called it “Overchoice” in his 1970 social critique “Futureshock”. Barry Schwartz calls it the “Paradox of Choice”.

Having too many options can make it more difficult to choose in the first place.2 And it can lead to more regret and a greater tendency to reverse course after the choice has been made.3

Law Six: Impatience can be bad.

Impatience can cost us.

If the child has no bargaining leverage, she’s going to have to just stew in her juices waiting for Christmas.

An impatient lane change can cause an accident.

Blurting out your feelings before you’ve thought things through can bring a premature end to a good relationship.

And switching away from projects every time they get difficult can leave you with a dozen half-finished projects.

 Law Seven: Impatience can be good.

But impatience can serve us well at times. Impatience is in our emotional-behavioral repertoire for a reason. When hunter-gatherers spent two days pursuing game and found nothing, it was good to grow impatient. It was good to consider the possibility that another food-acquisition strategy (gathering) might be better at that point.

Sometimes we are working on a project that’s going nowhere. Perhaps the market has moved on from what we’re building, and we need to accept that fact and start working on a different project.

Sometimes we are behind a slow car and there’s smooth sailing in the other lane.

Sometimes we’re in a dead-end relationship and need to get out so both parties can be happier.

Knowledge gives you power.

Here’s the exciting thing. When we understand how impatience works, we can channel our impatient energy when it’s time to speed things up or change course. And we can be more patient when it makes sense to stay the course.

The 7 laws of impatience empower us to ask the right questions when we find ourselves growing impatient:

  • What is my goal?
  • What did I think it was going to cost to reach this goal?
  • What are the additional costs I’m now aware of?
  • Am I blaming others for these extra costs?
  • Is it truly their fault?
  • Is it worth taking on even more costs just to teach them a lesson?
  • Do I have too many options?
  • Should I find a way to limit my exposure to new options?
  • Are there ways to reduce the costs of reaching this goal?
  • Is it time to abandon this goal?

Knowledge is power. And knowing how impatience works gives us the power to better strike the balance, so we can stay the course when it makes sense, and change course when that makes sense.

References:

1 Understanding Impatience, Jim Stone.

2 When Choice is Demotivating, Sheena S. Iyengar, Mark R. Lepper.

3 The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz.

Further Reading

For a slightly more in-depth treatment of impatience as an evolutionary adaptation, read Understanding Impatience.

About the Author:

Jim Stone, Ph.D. is a philosopher, avid student of

Motivational Psychology, and developer of personal productivity software and workshops

more…

Studies say our strains influence others

@journalsentinel #MarthaRoss #SanJoseMercuryNews #Behavior #Stress #Society

Via Studies say our strains influence others.

By Martha RossSan Jose Mercury News

Studies say our strains influence others

As a tax preparer, Stephen Yu deals with clients who can’t locate records or are panicked because they haven’t filed in years. Unfortunately, Yu picks up on their stress and sometimes takes it home, especially during tax season. He becomes irritable, distracted and can’t sleep.

“My family gets stressed, too, because they’re worried about me,” admitted Yu, of San Jose, Calif.

If we were talking about symptoms of a fast-spreading virus, officials with the Centers for Disease Control might be dispatching scientists in biohazard suits.

Instead, the culprit is stress. It has been identified as one of the major scourges of our modern age. Seventy-eight percent of American adults say their stress levels increased or stayed the same over the past five years, according to a 2013 American Psychological Association report. And more than 30% say stress has had a significant impact on their physical and mental health. Consequences of chronic untreated stress range from decreased immune system function to insomnia to increased risk of heart disease.

To get to the bottom of why we’re all so stressed out, some researchers have focused on how anxiety can be as contagious as any airborne pathogen. Researchers also liken it to secondhand smoke as they consider how regular exposure to challenging people hurts us physically and emotionally.

Consider how someone else’s negativity can put you on edge. There’s the co-worker who constantly complains. The friend who calls to vent about her marriage. The sighing, toe-tapping, visibly impatient customer in line with you at the grocery store.

Philosophers and psychologists have long pondered the ways people wittingly or not influence other’s emotions. Their curiosity makes sense, considering that humans are “fundamentally social creatures,” said physician David Spiegel. He is the director of the Center on Stress and Health at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, which studies the effects of stress on mental and physical health.

In trying to document the extent to which we are susceptible to “emotional contagion,” researchers are using sophisticated methods to locate exactly where stress develops in people’s bodies. While we may think of stress as purely emotional, doctors know it churns up complex physiological reactions that involve the nervous, endocrine and immune systems.

In a St. Louis University experiment, 20 students watched others struggle to present speeches or perform arithmetic problems. The researchers then measured the levels of cortisol and a stress-related salivary enzyme in both the speakers and the student observers. The team found that the observers’ stress responses were “proportional” to the speakers’ responses.

Tony Buchanan, associate professor of St. Louis University’s Department of Psychology, was surprised at how much witnesses were unsettled by the speakers’ discomfort. “It was also surprising how easily the stress was transmitted,” he said.

Another 2014 study by researchers at UC San Francisco and New York University found that babies immediately reacted to the stress of mothers who had just participated in an exercise designed to make them anxious.

While babies played with caregivers in one room, the mothers gave an impromptu speech to a panel of people. A third of the 69 mothers in the study faced panelists who responded with scowls. After the mothers returned to their babies, the heart rates of mothers and babies were measured. The increased heart rates of the agitated moms were mirrored in their babies, even if the moms tried to mask their distress with smiles and soothing voices, said Sara Waters, a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF focusing on development psychology. But it doesn’t take being in the same room with someone you know to be brought down by someone else’s negativity, as Facebook found with its controversial experiment on how “emotional contagion” spreads via social networks.

For one week, the site’s data scientists programmed an algorithm to automatically omit content that contained words associated with either positive or negative emotions from the central news feeds of nearly 700,000 users. The study showed that reducing positive content in users’ news feeds reduced the positive content users in turn posted in their status updates.

As alarming as it can be to learn that we’re so easily ruffled by others, secondhand stress is not always a bad thing. In fact, it often confers benefits to individuals and societies, experts say. One point of the St. Louis study was to demonstrate people’s capacity for empathy. The observers may have felt discomfort, but that emotional state can inspire altruism. “In natural disasters and terrorist events, a lot of people will be running toward the victims to help them,” Buchanan said. “That’s a situation where everyone is under stress, but a significant group of people are drawn to help others.”

Because we’re wired to be sensitive to other people, secondhand stress “allows us to be connected to other people, for good and for bad,” said Spiegel. Much of his research at Stanford has focused on whether support groups improve the quality of life of breast cancer patients.

Certainly, women in those groups are exposed to heartbreaking stories about members in pain, lacking family support or learning their prognosis isn’t good. But those women can also benefit from comforting those in need and even learning that their situation isn’t so dire. “It can be hurtful to lose someone in the group, but at the same time, they can feel good about offering help and feel lucky to still be alive,” Spiegel said.

For the babies in Waters’ experiment, their acute sensitivity to their mothers’ distress probably signals a healthy evolutionary adaptation-relying on their mothers’ emotional cues to know if an environment is safe.

Yet Waters acknowledges the growing body of research suggesting that chronically stressed-out parents could hurt their children’s development, especially of young children or babies in utero.

She hopes that work like hers provides child-care experts with data they can use to develop coping strategies for parents and their kids. “I think that’s one of the things we’re starting to explore is the extent to which parents can start to pay attention to stress inside the body and help themselves and their children to bring those stress levels down, by doing deep breathing or other calming exercises.”

Harry Potter and the Battle Against Bigotry

@PacificStand @TomJacobs_PSMag #HarryPotterBooks #Society #Relationships #Prejudice #Behavior

Via Harry Potter and the Battle Against Bigotry – Pacific Standard: The Science of Society.

 • July 29, 2014 • 4:00 AM

Harry Potter. (Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Harry Potter. (Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Kids who identify with the hero of J.K. Rowling’s popular fantasy novels hold more open-minded attitudes toward immigrants and gays.

Sure, Harry Potter destroyed the evil Lord Voldemort. But, aside from making lots of money for book publishers and film studio/theme-park conglomerates, what has the wizard done for us lately?

In fact, he has been helping to reduce prejudice.

That’s the conclusion of research just published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology. It finds that, among young people, readingJ.K. Rowling’s book series—and, crucially, identifying with the lead character—can reduce bias toward stigmatized minority groups.

In two different studies, young Italians took note of “the positive attitudes and behaviors of Harry Potter toward stigmatized fantastic groups,” and this fantasy-world interaction apparently influenced their real-world attitudes.

Kids (with the help of a discussion leader for the youngest) were able to make the imaginative leap between Harry’s defense of “mudbloods” and the unfairness of bigotry toward immigrants and gays.

According to a research team led by Loris Vezzali of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, this suggests “reading the novels can potentially tackle actual prejudice reduction.”

Those who read and discussed Potter passages about prejudices showed “improved attitudes towards immigrants.” The researchers caution, however, that this welcome reaction only occurred among those who identified with the title character.

Bigotry, the researchers note, is a continuing theme in the series of phenomenally popular young-adult novels. Voldemort, who represents pure evil, makes arguments that have “rather obvious” parallels with Nazism, they write, noting that he believes all power should reside in “pure-blood” witches and wizards, as opposed to those born of one magical parent and one non-magical “muggle.”

In addition, Harry and his friends interact with various sub-human species such as elves and goblins, who regularly complain about being forced into subservient roles, not unlike blacks in apartheid South Africa. Harry “tries to understand them and appreciate their difficulties,” the researchers write.

The parallels may be obvious to adults, but do they connect with kids? The researchers conducted several studies to find out. The first featured 34 Italian fifth graders, who began by filling out a questionnaire assessing their attitudes toward immigrants.

For six weeks, they met weekly with a researcher in groups of five or six to discuss selected passages from the Harry Potter books. Half of the kids read, and talked about, sections that dealt directly with prejudice; the others focused on sections that discussed unrelated topics.

Afterwards, they again answered questions about their attitudes about immigrants, listed how many Harry Potter books or films they had seen, and revealed the extent to which they wanted to be like Harry.

The results: Those who read and discussed Potter passages about prejudices showed “improved attitudes towards immigrants.” The researchers caution, however, that this welcome reaction only occurred among those who identified with the title character.

The second study featured 117 Italian high school students. They were asked how many of the books they had read; whether they felt an emotional kinship with Harry (or, alternatively, Voldemort); and, in what they were told was a separate study, expressed their attitudes toward homosexuals.

The researchers found those who had read more of the books also had a more positive attitude toward gay people—but, again, only if they felt a personal connection to the title character.

A final study used a different age group (college students) in a different country (England) and assessed attitudes toward a different minority group (refugees). The results were also a bit different, as identification with Harry was not linked with lower levels of prejudice. (The researchers point out that Harry is less likely to be an effective role model to this older audience.)

However, as they looked more deeply, the researchers found the same dynamic at play; here, the key variable was the extent to which participants identified (or failed to identify) with Voldemort. They also discovered the same likely mechanism behind the prejudice reduction: The books’ ability to prompt readers to view society from the viewpoint of a disparaged minority.

“Harry Potter book reading was positively associated with perspective taking toward refugees only among those less identified with Voldemort,” they report. “Perspective taking, in turn, was associated with improved attitudes toward refugees.”

The study is consistent with research we reported on earlier this year, which found that reading literary fiction can reduce racism by helping readers identify with characters from diverse backgrounds. (For that reason, these researchers took overall book reading into account when analyzing their results; they found the Harry Potter books had an impact beyond that of reading in general.)

Of course, people who grow up with biased beliefs aren’t likely to read the type of story used in the earlier study, which focuses on a Muslim woman living in New York. But they may very well read a fantasy story like the Harry Potter novels, where such messages are effectively embedded in the middle of a gripping, imaginative storyline.

Perhaps arguments for open-mindedness are most effectively delivered underneath an invisibility cloak.

About the author:

Tom Jacobs
Staff writer Tom Jacobs is a veteran journalist with more than 20 years experience at daily newspapers. He has served as a staff writer for The Los Angeles Daily News and the Santa Barbara News-Press. His work has also appeared in The Los Angeles TimesChicago Tribune, and Ventura County Star.

Why Profile Photos Are Liars

@PsychToday @neuronarrative #SocialMediaImages #Society #Behavior

Via Why Profile Photos Are Liars | Psychology Today.

New research shows the weakness of our snap judgments.