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Unconscious environmental cues have profound effects on human behavior

» New research shows that human beings are "psychologically hotwired" to unconsciously respond much more strongly to environmental cues than was previously imagined.

Hidden in the room was a bucket of water with a splash of citrus-scented cleaning fluid, giving off a faint odor. After completing the questionnaire, the young men and women had a snack, a crumbly biscuit provided by laboratory staff members. The researchers covertly filmed the snack time and found that these students cleared away crumbs three times more often than a comparison group, who had taken the same questionnaire in a room with no cleaning scent. "That is a very big effect, and they really had no idea they were doing it," said Henk Aarts, a psychologist at Utrecht University and the senior author of the study.

I wonder if there's a way to turn this into a life hack? I'm becoming more and more interested in structural approaches to behavior modification, but unfortunately these studies also show that the minute people realize they are being manipulated, they rebel. Still, it seems likely to me that reducing the clutter in your environment, for example, would increase your productivity—in part because you would be sending yourself a message that you were cleared and ready to work. (4) Comments  / [ 08/01/07 ]

How to be a more effective researcher

» Q: Question: How do I start researching? Answer: Treat research as a lifestyle not an assignment. A great approach from what appears to be an academic librarian, including a new (to me) term: The Invisible College. [Wikipedia article] Bloggers will immediately see themselves in this role, so it's worth pointing out that anyone who limits themselves to blogs will miss many other communities of interest, online and off. (1) Comments  / [ 06/01/07 ]

Using the Permaculture Zone Principle for Getting Things Done

» Cultivating your home: Permaculture zones for getting things done. An Australian permaculture expert applies the "zone" principle to work and life. "Zone 1 can only be as big as your reach and attention. [...] When there is some task you want to remember to do, or get motivation to start, just put it in zone 1 – places your hands and eyes naturally reach – and tasks will seem to just ‘complete themselves’ for you. [...] Zone one is precious; so don’t waste it on storage." (2) Comments  / [ 05/10/07 ]

How to get to Carnegie Hall? Practice

» How to get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. Jonah Lehrer suggests that two of the most famous child prodigies—Amadeus Mozart and Tiger Woods—are notable as much for their work ethic as for their innate talent. He references Ericsson's assertion that world-class performance requires 10,000 hours of practice. Now, most of these studies are focused on people who started their study at young ages and emerged as experts when they reached adulthood (or as accomplished practioners, which takes 7,500 hours of work). But, barring physical limits, why couldn't someone become an expert practitioner later in life? "Other golfers may outplay me from time to time, but they'll never outwork me." Tiger Woods.  [ 07/31/06 ]

Presenting: How Steve Jobs Does it

» Want to be a better presenter? How Steve Jobs does it. (via htstw [ 05/15/06 ]



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