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Ceiling height affects creativity

Research by Joan Meyers-Levy and Rui (Juliet) Zhu  found that, depending on the
situation, ceiling height will benefit or impair consumer responses.

"When a person is in
a space with a 10-foot ceiling, they will tend to think more freely,
more abstractly," said Meyers-Levy. "They might process more abstract
connections between objects in a room, whereas a person in a room with
an 8-foot ceiling will be more likely to focus on specifics."

This information is take from the University of Minnesota's press release.

The findings suggest to me that the human brain works metaphorically – although this article by Chris Morris offers an alternative explanation, that people just have more room to make big pictures in their minds when there is a high ceiling.

7%, 38%, 55% – the facts

Ever heard that statistic that only 7% of information in communication
is conveyed by the words, 38% by voice tone, and 55% by body language?
Well, it's not strictly true.

The
original experiments by a psychologist called Mehrabian have been taken
wildly out of context. These web pages set the record straight:

http://www.neurosemantics.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=375&Itemid=199
http://www.linguistlist.org/issues/12/12-1332.html

And from Mehrabian's own web page at http://www.kaaj.com/psych/smorder.html, he makes the point that his original experiments were about feelings and attitudes:
—————

"Total Liking = 7% Verbal Liking + 38% Vocal Liking + 55% Facial Liking

Please
note that this and other equations regarding relative importance of
verbal and nonverbal messages were derived from experiments dealing
with communications of feelings and attitudes (i.e., like-dislike).
Unless a communicator is talking about their feelings or attitudes,
these equations are not applicable.

————–

I
could have sworn that there was also an article on the Fast Company web
site debunking the use of these statistics out of context, but
apparently not. I must have been thinking of the "Yale goal-setting study" (quoted by Anthony Robbins among many others) which seems to have never actually happened.

This post originally appeared in my first primitive attempt at a
self-hosted blog way back in 2004. The original blog has vanished like
the lost continent of Atlantis, but I'll salvage anything I think is
worthwhile and repost it here.

Paul Keedwell on the benefits of depression

Amazon.co.uk_ How Sadness Survived_ The Evolutionary Basis of Depression_ Paul Keedwell_ BooksAn interesting article in the Guardian by psychiatrist Paul Keedwell argues that depression can have some benefits:

The truth is that short-term pain can lead to longer-term gain. A
recently published follow-up study of depression in Holland – the
Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study (Nemesis) – used a
sample of 165 people with a major depressive episode, and provides some
preliminary scientific evidence to suggest that depression is indeed
helpful in the longer term. Researchers who were looking for evidence
to suggest that depression leaves people chronically disabled were
surprised to discover the opposite.

His new book, How Sadness Survived: The Evolutionary Basis of Depression, looks fascinating – at the time of writing, the reviews that I’ve seen have all been five-star!

The benefits of swearing at work

Roger_mellie_150_2
Allowing staff to swear at work can benefit them and their employers,
according to researchers at the University of East Anglia.

Prof Yehuda Baruch, professor of management at the UEA-based Norwich
Business School (NBS), and graduate Stuart Jenkins looked at the use of
expletives and swearing in the work place from a management point of
view.

They identified the relevance and even importance of using
non-conventional and sometimes uncivil language at work and how it may
have a positive impact.

The study found regular use of profanity to express and
reinforce solidarity among staff, enabling them to express their
feelings, such as frustration, and develop social relationships.

The results of the study, Swearing at work and permissive
leadership culture: when anti-social becomes social and incivility is
acceptable, are published in the current issue of the Leadership and
Organization Development Journal (Vol 28 Issue 6, pages 492-507).

The research suggests that while a ban on swear words and reprimanding
staff might represent strong leadership, it would remove the source of
solidarity and in doing so could lead to decreased morale and work
motivation.

However, Prof Baruch and Mr Jenkins stress that abusive and
offensive swearing should be eliminated where it generates greater
levels of stress, rather than helping to relieve it.

Prof Baruch said the use of swearing would continue to rise in
the workplace and become more of an issue for leaders and managers.

"The question is what should we do about it? We offer a model
and some practical advice. Certainly in most scenarios, in particular
in the presence of customers or senior staff, profanity must be
seriously discouraged or banned" he said.

"However, our study suggested that in many cases, taboo language serves
the needs of people for developing and maintaining solidarity, and as a
mechanism to cope with stress. Banning it could backfire."

He added: "Managers need to understand how their staff feel
about swearing. The challenge is to master the art of knowing when to
turn a blind eye to communication that does not meet their own
standards."

Get the full story here.

If you would like to improve the standard of your swearing, I can recommend Roger’s Profanisaurus, from the makers of Viz comic.

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