How to make a great first impression

Firstimpressions

The psychology of first impressions – digested

You’ll have had this experience – you meet a new person and within moments you feel good or bad vibes about them. This is you performing “thin slicing” – deducing information about a person based on “tells”, some more obvious than others. Psychologists have studied this process in detail. For example, they’ve shown that we form a sense of whether a stranger is trustworthy in less than one tenth of a second. With some accuracy, we can also deduce rapidly more specific information such as their intelligence and sexual orientation. This post delves into our archive and beyond to digest the science of first impressions: People who make more eye contact are perceived as more intelligent. ….[READ]

Cell phone usage affects restaurant customers’ satisfaction

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NYC Restaurant Compares Old Surveillance Of Customers To Most Recent And Is Shocked By The Results

A popular New York City restaurant recently hired a firm to investigate why they continually kept receiving such bad reviews for slow service. Once the results came in they were shocked by what they discovered. They then decided to rant about it on Craiglist (content has since been removed from Craiglist), comparing footage from 2004 to footage from 2014. This is what they posted: We are a popular restaurant for both locals and tourists alike. Having been in business for many years, we noticed that although the number of customers we serve on a daily basis is almost the same today as it was 10 years ago, the service just seems super slow even though we added more staff and cut back on the menu items… One of the most common complaints on review sites against us and many restaurants in the area is that the service was slow and/or they needed to wait a bit long for a table. We decided to hire a firm to help us solve this mystery, and naturally the first thing they blamed it on was that the employees need more training and that maybe the kitchen staff is just not up to the task of serving that many customers. ….[READ]

Do opportunity costs of time really matter?

Time Teasers: The Opportunity Cost of Time

One of our mission statements here at Timeful is to help you “make time for things that matter.” But diligently creating time in your day for things that you value is easier said than done. Usually, we have a very limited amount of time with which to make scheduling decisions. We want to give users a tool that helps them stay true to those resolutions they make in moments of inspiration. These can range from important work-related tasks (“I should set aside a few sessions per week to focus on that project:), to more social hobbies (“I want to become a trombonist!”). We all make fierce promises to ourselves when we’re feeling motivated. The problem is that our inspiration wavers as time passes, and we lose the emotional pull of our intention. ….[READ]

Are genotypes the source of well-being?

Golden gene in DNA

Is There a Happiness Gene?

One secret to happiness may lie in genes, a new study suggests. Denmark and other Scandinavian countries regularly top world happiness rankings, and while many factors influence happiness, genetics may play a larger role than previously thought, according to the study authors. The new research examined the average genetic makeup of people in more than 100 countries, and compared how similar their genes were to people living in Denmark — a measurement called genetic distance. They found that the greater a nation’s genetic distance from Denmark, the lower the reported well-being of that nation. ….[READ]

Is impatience a genetic vice?

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Time and punishment

In his “Odyssey”, Homer immortalised the idea of resisting temptation by having the protagonist tied to the mast of his ship, to hear yet not succumb to the beautiful, dangerous songs of the Sirens. Researchers have long been intrigued as to whether this ability to avoid, or defer, gratification is related to outcomes in life. The best-known test is the “marshmallow” experiment, in which children who could refrain from eating the confection for 15 minutes were given a second one. Children who could not wait tended to have lower incomes and poorer health as adults. New research suggests that kids who are unable to delay rewards are also more likely to become criminals later. David Akerlund, Hans Gronqvist and Lena Lindahl of Stockholm University and Bart Golsteyn of Maastricht University used data from a Swedish survey in which more than 13,000 children aged 13 were asked whether they would prefer to receive $140 now or $1,400 in five years’ time. About four-fifths of them said they were prepared to wait. ….[READ]

Are mathematical models just simplifications?

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The Illusion of Mathematical Certainty

Nate Silver’s questionable foray into predicting World Cup results got me thinking about the limitations of maths in economics (and the social sciences in general). I generally stay out of this discussion because it’s completely overdone, but I’d like to rebut a popular defence of mathematics in economics that I don’t often see challenged. It goes something like this: Everyone has assumptions implicit in the way they view the world. Mathematics allows economists to state our assumptions clearly and make sure our conclusions follow from our premises so we can avoid fuzzy thinking. I do not believe this argument stands on its own terms. A fuzzy concept does not become any less fuzzy when you attach an algebraic label to it and stick it into an equation with other fuzzy concepts to which you’ve attached algebraic labels (a commenter on Noah Smith’s blog provided a great example of this by mathematising Freud’s Oedipus complex and pointing out it was still nonsense). ….[READ]

Does overconfidence pay?

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Forget the Wisdom of Crowds; Neurobiologists Reveal the Wisdom of the Confident

Way back in 1906, the English polymath Francis Galton visited a country fair in which 800 people took part in a contest to guess the weight of a slaughtered ox. After the fair, he collected the guesses and calculated their average which turned out to be 1,208 pounds. To Galton’s surprise, this was within 1 percent of the true weight of 1,198 pounds. This is one of the earliest examples of a phenomenon that has come to be known as the wisdom of the crowd. The idea is that the collective opinion of a group of individuals can be better than a single expert opinion. This phenomenon is commonplace today on websites such as Reddit in which users vote on the importance of particular stories and the most popular are given greater prominence. However, anyone familiar with Reddit will know that the collective opinion isn’t always wise. In recent years, researchers have spent a significant amount of time and effort teasing apart the factors that make crowds stupid. One important factor turns out to be the way members of a crowd influence each other. ….[READ]