Why Does Everyone Think They're Doing All the Work?
Think you're contributing 110 percent to a project? Researchers suggest you may be overclaiming.
Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at PCMag.com where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker
Most people believe they do more work than their peers. Melissa Dahl from NYMag writes, “[It's] a quirk of human egocentrism psychologists call overclaiming.”
Social scientists have observed this phenomenon in parents, students, sports teams, and office workers, and when researchers asked these various groups of people how much work they put into a collaborative project, the percentage always fell above 100 percent.
Professor Nicholas Epley of the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, said in an interview with Dahl:
"Obviously, in any group — despite what college football coaches tell us — you can't do 110 percent."
In a paper he published in 2006, he questioned a group of authors of psychology journal articles. Epley and his group of researchers asked what percentage of work each believed they did to help contribute toward the final product. After tallying up the numbers, the total added up to 140 percent. They conducted the same study on a group of M.B.A. students. Their averaged contributions added up to a similar, logic-defying 130 percent.
As to why people tend to overclaim, Epley thinks he has some answers.
In a recent experiment, researchers broke up a group of participants into smaller groups of three. They would instruct two participants to solve a word puzzle while the third sat back and watched. In another scenario, they would instruct the third to supervise and "try to level the synergies of the group."
Epley said that the supervisors “tried to do that — they tried to 'leverage the synergies.'” But he continued on to say, we all know that supervising is “bullshit work — it's not like you're solving the word problems."
Even though supervisors, in Epley's opinion, are no better than the guy sitting back and observing, they still claimed to have done more work compared to the participants instructed to just observe. The scores of the two groups were about the same as well, showing that the supervisory role added little to the productivity of the one scenario.
"Unlike lots of afflictions that you can't do anything about, you can overcome this with just a little bit of attention paid to everyone else."
It sounds as if an exercise in mindfulness or an egocentric detox might do people some good in unclouding their judgments as to who's doing what in a project. Just for a moment, take the focus off yourself and consider the people around you.
Arianna Huffington, who has had much success over the years without mindfulness, says that mindfulness "enhances ... our clarity of thought." She believes without it, our actions and decisions become impaired.
Read more about the study of overclaiming at NYMag.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
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- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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