A study conducted
by Gary Latham PhD, replaced 12 words in an e-mail from a company president to his
employees to demonstrate the power of word choice.
Half of the company received the president’s original e-mail and half of the company received the same e-mail with 12 achievement-focused words added in. The result? After a week, objectively measured performance showed an increase in effectiveness by 15% and efficiency by 35% for the employees who received the achievement centric email.
Priming, in relation to human behavior, is the idea that exposure to an external stimulus can subconsciously trigger our brains to drive specific behaviors.
A study in Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking Fast and Slow” examined how a simple word could prime the brain to think differently in a similar situation. Subjects were exposed to one of two words and then shown the letters “SO_P” and asked to fill in the blank.
People who were exposed to the word “eat” prior to the exercise were more likely to fill in the letter “U” (SOUP), and those exposed to the word “shower” were more like to fill in the letter “A” (SOAP).
In this situation, the first word they were exposed to impacted their interpretation of the blank letter and completed word. This is a simple example, but priming can also cause us to unconsciously engage in behaviors both good and bad.
Would being able to understand the underlying reasons why you and others “do the things you do” be helpful to you in your job? Is there value in having the knowledge to be able to predict and understand people’s responses to your requests or changes? How about being able to anticipate how people will most likely respond in a given situation or environment? Would the ability to make more rational and sound decisions help you in moving your business forward?
people, that answer is “yes.”
Most of us
work in an environment that involves some level of involvement and interaction with
other people. Whether it be coworkers, bosses, employees, vendors, or customers
– at some point in your workday, there is likely a human involved.
How you interact with those humans can change how they respond.
We need to
be able to work effectively with those humans. If we can understand and
empathize with their underlying drives, decipher how they are interpreting our
words and actions, and anticipate how they will respond to what we do, our
interactions with them will be significantly improved.
Fall 2019 Update: We recorded an in depth podcast with AMGA Ski Guide and Avalanche expert Chris Brown on this same subject – check it out here!
An exploration into the human factors and heuristics that lead to avalanche incidents and our recommendations on: (1) how to overcome them and (2) how to improve how avalanche education courses teach them.
Note: we posted this blog a few years ago. In this version, we have updated it with new insights and research findings. Reach out here for advice on developing your own motivational hacks.
Each of us has a unique self-identity that both “drives” what we do and is “influenced” by what we do. This dual component is one of the unique aspects of self-identity that we can tap into to help drive and sustain change.
For those of you who don’t know, The Behavioral Grooves is both a meetup and a podcast – sort of like a breakfast cereal and an energy drink at the same time.
Kurt Nelson, PhD and Tim Houlihan, Behavioral Alchemist founded the Behavioral Grooves as a non-profit organization to share their enthusiasm for the application of behavioral sciences with a wider audience.
Read along for a brief overview by Tim as he takes us on a ride through the experience:
No, this isn’t one of those government studies where you wonder how it ever got approved (i.e., how long can shrimp run on a treadmill or does playing FarmVille on Facebook help people to make friends and keep them?*).
Socks and behavioral science. The two do not seem to fit together, yet I consistently use my socks as a personal behavioral modification tool.
Back in September, I partnered with Tim Houlihan to start “a monthly gathering of curious minds” which we called Behavioral Grooves. We thought it would be interesting to get like-minded people together to talk about applying behavioral science to life and work.
We had no idea if others would be interested in this…
We announced the meetup and were hoping to get at least a few of the friends that we had contacted to show up. We ended up with 24 people for that first session where we talked about habits – how they are formed and what people can do to improve them.
We were thrilled!
From there, it took off. We have over 180 members signed up to our meetup group and it is growing fast. We have had three monthly sessions as of early January 2018 and our fourth is lined up for two weeks from today. We have over 20 people who have made it to two or more of the sessions.
I guess we struck a nerve.
For our second session, we invited Professor James Heyman to speak and thought, hey, since he’s here, why don’t we interview him and make a podcast out of it. Thus, our Behavioral Grooves podcast was born. Tim and I both loved that so much that we decided that we didn’t want to wait for the next Behavioral Grooves session to record our next one – so we started to invite people and interview them – both live and over the internet.
To date, we have seven interviews recorded and three more in the works. These podcasts mirror the Behavioral Grooves sessions in that they are conversational in nature where we geek out over behavioral science and how we can apply behavioral science insights into our daily work and lives.
They have been a blast!
In reflecting on this, it appears to me that these two outlets provide us with a way of both learning and sharing. We want to be advocates for good, ethical use of behavioral science. We believe that there is much to learn and we can improve our work and lives by understanding and by applying these principles in a thoughtful and deliberate manner.
We also realized that we love the community that this is creating. A community of curious minds who are interested in science and the application of that science. A community of people that we can bounce ideas off of. A community of people that can push us to think about things from new perspectives.
This is ultimately what we have been building and hope that it grows and provides a place and outlet for others, as well as ourselves.
If you are ever in Minneapolis on the third Thursday of the month – please come and join us at our meetup (find out more info here) and if you can’t make that, please listen in to our podcasts (click here to find the latest).
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