There are obvious reasons why diversity is important to an organization. Economist Tim Harford, who has been called "Britain's Malcolm Gladwell," discusses the surprising benefits of diversity in the latest installment of Big Think's Edge.
Effective Decision Making:
"We often hear people singing the praises of diversity, and there are lots of good reasons why we should have diversity: to correct historic injustices and to be fair to all sorts of different kinds of people. Less often we hear the benefit of diversity because it just helps groups of people make better decisions," says Harford, a regular contributor to The Financial Times and the author of multiple books, including his latest, The Undercover Economist.
The Psychology of Non-Conformity:
Harford cites a study by psychologist Solomon Asch from the 1950s that explored social pressure. The study clearly exposed the power of conformity. Test subjects chose the obviously wrong answer after the group--played by hired actors--had made the same wrong choice.
As the Solomon Asch study also showed, Harford points out, just one lone voice is enough to inspire others to speak-up and break the chains of conformity. The pressure of conformity can indeed prevent productive discourse. Therefore, effective decision making relies on a diversity of voices. Does your organization generate diverse discussions?
Listen to Harford explain the power of diversity in the latest installment of Edge.
Universities claim to prepare students for the world. How many actually do it?
- Many university mission statements do not live up to their promise, writes Ben Nelson, founder of Minerva, a university designed to develop intellect over content memorization.
- The core competencies that students need for success—critical thinking, communication, problem solving, and cross-cultural understanding, for example—should be intentionally taught, not left to chance.
- These competencies can be summed up with one word: wisdom. True wisdom is the ability to apply one's knowledge appropriately when faced with novel situations.
This is what the world will look like, 250 million years from now
To us humans, the shape and location of oceans and continents seems fixed. But that's only because our lives are so short.
A new study may help us better understand how children build social cognition through caregiver interaction.
Researchers at UT Southwestern noted a 47 percent increase in blood flow to regions associated with memory.
- Researchers at UT Southwestern observed a stark improvement in memory after cardiovascular exercise.
- The year-long study included 30 seniors who all had some form of memory impairment.
- The group of seniors that only stretched for a year did not fair as well in memory tests.