The brain does some remarkable things when we aren’t paying attention. Consider how you engage tasks throughout the day. When you wake up in the morning, a script starts playing that runs you through task after task from the moment you step out of bed to the moment you get into your car on the way to work. And you don't really have to think through any of it.
Your brain wants to trust. We’re wired for social connection—not just casual meet and greets, but genuine connection—and trust is what makes it work. But that same drive to trust, essential though it is, also makes us natural born suckers.
Adding to an already robust catalog of research showing that thinking-related challenges are like exercise for the brain, the latest study shows that jobs involving high levels of “executive, verbal and fluid” tasks enhance memory and thinking abilities for years to come.
We seem to be equipped with a way to detect the level of confidence embedded in others’ voices, and even a loud tone—if lacking the confidence intangible—isn’t likely to cause much more than irritation.
Much of the self-improvement industry is focused on ways to cattle prod our willpower into healthier habits. Behavioral psychologists, on the other hand, have conducted a wealth of research showing that skillful hacks to our homes and offices can produce results that tweaks to willpower, however forceful, rarely make stick.
Researchers have shown that not only does stress predispose us to wanting pleasure, it makes our desire for it drastically out of proportion to our enjoyment. The reward never reaches the level of our want.
If Cacioppo could persuade the Grinch to step into his fMRI, he'd likely observe a result consistent with those of a brain imaging study he conducted to identify differences in the neural mechanisms of lonely and nonlonely people.
There is a group-sense inherent in human nature that lines us up favorably with birds and bees and ants and fish, though with us the dynamic is less reactive. Rather than reacting to an immediate cause, our patterns emerge in the form of social conformity. The irony is that we (particularly in Western cultures) pride ourselves on our alleged individuality.
If you’ve ever wondered how skilled sales professionals seem to know exactly when to turn on the turbo boosters to get you to make the deal – take a good long look in the mirror. Those two orbs staring back at you show your cards.