Study confirms the existence of a special kind of groupthink in large groups.
- Large groups of people everywhere tend to come to the same conclusions.
- In small groups, there's a much wider diversity of ideas.
- The mechanics of a large group make some ideas practically inevitable.
The grouping game<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTQ1NDE2Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMjI2MzA4OX0.RLrswIWbuEzHNqsw0F7EUrp9jPn7OulLPqCxcZT11ik/img.jpg?width=980" id="159b8" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0feb15d2d7dde144c710c2f4f1e5350c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="2767" data-height="382" />
Some of the shapes used in the experiment
Credit: Guilbeault, et al./University of Pennsylvania<p>The researchers tested their theory with 1,480 people playing an online "Grouping Game" via Amazon's Mechanical Turk platform. The individuals were paired with another participant or made a member of a group of 6, 8, 24, or 50 people. Each pair and group were tasked with categorizing the symbols shown above, and they could see each other's answers.</p><p>The small groups came up with wildly divergent categories—the entire experiment produced nearly 5,000 category suggestions—while the larger groups came up with categorization systems that were virtually identical to each other.</p><p><a href="https://www.asc.upenn.edu/news-events/news/why-independent-cultures-think-alike-its-not-in-the-brain" target="_blank">Says Centola</a>, "Even though we predicted it, I was nevertheless stunned to see it really happen. This result challenges many long-held ideas about culture and how it forms."</p><p>Nor was this unanimity a matter of having teamed-up like-minded individuals. "If I assign an individual to a small group," says lead author Douglas Guilbeault, "they are much more likely to arrive at a category system that is very idiosyncratic and specific to them. But if I assign that same individual to a large group, I can predict the category system that they will end up creating, regardless of whatever unique viewpoint that person happens to bring to the table."</p>
Why this happens<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTQ1NDE4NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMjkzMDg0Nn0.u2hdEIgNw4drFZ2frzx0AJ_MAxIizuM98rdovQrIblk/img.jpg?width=980" id="d3444" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5da57d66e388fad0f1c17afb09af90a7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1440" data-height="822" />
The many categories suggested by small groups on the left, the few from large groups on the right
Credit: Guilbeault, et al./Nature Communications<p>The striking results of the experiment correspond to a <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-019-0607-5" target="_blank">previous study</a> done by NDG that investigated tipping points for people's behavior in networks.</p><p>That study concluded that after an idea enters a discussion among a large network of people, it can gain irresistible traction by popping up again and again in enough individuals' conversations. In networks of 50 people or more, such ideas eventually reach critical mass and become a prevailing opinion.</p><p>The same phenomenon does not happen often enough within a smaller network, where fewer interactions offer an idea less of an opportunity to take hold.</p>
Beyond categories<p>The study's finding raises an interesting practical possibility: Would categorization-related decisions made by large groups be less likely to fall prey to members' individual biases?</p><p>With this question in mind, the researchers are currently looking into content moderation on Facebook and Twitter. They're investigating whether the platforms would be wiser when categorizing content as free speech or hate speech if large groups were making these decisions instead of lone individuals working at these companies.</p><p>Similarly, they're also exploring the possibility that larger networks of doctors and healthcare professionals might be better at making diagnoses that would avoid biases such as racism or sexism that could cloud the judgment of individual practitioners.</p><p>"Many of the worst social problems reappear in every culture," notes Centola, "which leads some to believe these problems are intrinsic to the human condition. Our research shows that these problems are intrinsic to the social experiences humans have, not necessarily to humans themselves. If we can alter that social experience, we can change the way people organize things, and address some of the world's greatest problems."</p>
A new study found that personality growth in young adults predicted career benefits such as income, degree attainment, and job satisfaction.
Success with the Big 5<p>That's the conclusion of a recent <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797620957998" target="_blank">longitudinal study</a> published in Psychological Science. The study followed two samples of Icelandic youths from roughly ages 17 to 29. Its researchers used data across three and five time points to measure the young adults on the Big Five personality traits (openness, extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability). It also surveyed them for five indicators of early career success. These were income, degree attainment, occupational prestige, and job and career satisfaction.</p><p>The study's findings showed that personality growth predicted career outcomes better than "adolescent trait levels and crystallized ability." Across both samples, the researchers found extroversion, conscientiousness, and emotional stability to have the strongest effects. Specifically, conscientiousness was tied to career satisfaction, emotional stability to income and career satisfaction, and extroversion to job and career satisfaction.</p><p>"Overall, the findings highlight the importance of personality development throughout childhood, adolescence and young adulthood for promoting different aspects of career success," Kevin Hoff, lead author and assistant professor of industrial-organizational psychology at the University of Houston, <a href="https://uh.edu/news-events/stories/2020/december-2020/12022020-hoff-personality-maturity-career.php" target="_blank">said in a release</a>.</p><p>Hoff believes these results support policies designed to help young people develop personality-based skills. "The study showed you're not just stuck with your personality traits, and if you change over time in positive ways, that can have a big impact on your career," he said.</p><p>According to the release, the study is the first to assess the predictive link between personality growth and career outcomes across a decade of young adulthood. While preliminary, it does fit in with other studies looking into the relationship between personality traits and career success. </p><p><a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1069072703254501" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A 2003 study</a> published in the Journal of Career Assessment surveyed more than 5,000 individuals. Its results found that conscientiousness, extroversion, and openness correlated with career satisfaction. Similarly, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1744-6570.1999.tb00174.x" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a 2006 study</a> published in Personnel Psychology drew on data from <a href="http://ihd.berkeley.edu/research-centers/inter-generational-studies" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the Intergenerational Studies</a>. It found that conscientiousness positively predicted extrinsic career success (i.e., income and status) as well as intrinsic success (i.e., job satisfaction).</p>
The change you want to be<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="67cab64f293633035f0c699f71a5d426"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/vyJ_hhninDw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>William James famously penned that personality becomes "<a href="https://www.apa.org/pubs/books/4318271" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">set in plaster</a>" by the age of 30, never to soften again. There's some truth to this. Personality traits do remain relatively stable throughout our lifetimes. Your inherently disorganized friend won't transform into Marie Kondo because they watched a YouTube tutorial on shirt folding.</p><p>But many studies show that our personalities aren't immutable, either. We can remold ourselves well beyond 30, shifting our traits on their continuum in ways that can be either beneficial or deleterious. One such study, <a href="http://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037/pspp0000210" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology</a>, assessed participants' personality traits for 50 years. If found that as people mature over time, they also accumulate personality changes.</p><p>"The rankings (of personality traits) remain fairly consistent. People who are more conscientious than others their age at 16 are likely to be more conscientious than others at 66. On average, everyone becomes more conscientious, more emotionally stable, and more agreeable," Rodica Damian, the study's lead author and the director of the Personality Development and Success Lab at the University of Houston, <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201808/how-do-personality-traits-change-16-66" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">said in a statement</a>.</p><p>Cultivating such growth can be difficult as these traits often require the very talents we feel we lack. To become more extroverted, for example, one needs to be less introverted. It seems both obvious and self-defeating—if one was more outgoing, one would be more outgoing. Because of this, interventions typically focus on actions that alter how we typically think or behave (hence the name cognitive-behavioral therapy). These actions can be small at first, but they have to be deliberate and specific, the so-called <a href="https://bigthink.com/personal-growth/brain-hack-new-years-resolution" target="_self">SMART goals</a>.</p><p>To become more extroverted, introverts don't have to throw lavish, hedonistic house parties to rival those of rock-'n'-roll legends. Instead, the introvert starts by attending a small book club on a specific day and tasking themselves to talk at the meeting This is the first step that makes subsequent steps easier, and after an accumulation of such steps, self-perspective begins to shift. </p><p>"Once you start to change those behaviors, you'll start to change the way you see yourself," <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201604/can-introvert-ever-change" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Susan Krauss Whitbourne</a>, Professor Emerita of Psychology and Brain Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, writes. "That change in <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/identity" title="Psychology Today looks at identity" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">identity</a> may provide the key to personality trait change. You change the narrative from 'I've always been an introvert' to 'I've usually engaged in introverted behavior.' Seeing yourself as in charge of your personality rather than being run by it may be the key to having your personality suit instead of define you."</p><p>The same goes for conscientiousness. Taking on tasks and responsibilities that <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/finding-new-home/201902/three-potential-ways-become-more-conscientious" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">require one to utilize conscientiousness</a> brings about that change over time. As Damian noted, people typically become more conscientious as they get older. One reason is simply that adulthood requires more diligence, discipline, and self-control than high school and punishes a lack of those traits more harshly. Adult environments also tend to reward and support such characteristics. By realizing that with intention, we can self-furnish our environments to support and foster that change.</p><p>We can also hack our metacognition—the way we think about our thinking—to great effect. Such techniques are often used in <a href="https://cogbtherapy.com/cbt-emotion-regulation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">emotional regulation therapy </a>to intervene in heightened or easily triggered outbursts. Mindfulness, for example, teaches people to identify their emotions, and the practice helps people from becoming overwhelmed through the act of labeling an emotion as something distinct from themselves. Recognizing the difference between being angry and feeling angry assists in self-modulation.<em></em></p><p>Some techniques and interventions may improve certain personality traits better than others, but they all demonstrate a key takeaway. Practice won't make perfect, but it can shift personality to be more in line with our goals. While personality may not be the only factor in career and life success, self-improvement will pay dividends to both.</p>
Shannon Lee shares lessons from her father in her new book, "Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee."
- Bruce Lee would have turned 80 years old on November 27, 2020. The legendary actor and martial artist's daughter, Shannon Lee, shares some of his wisdom and his philosophy on self help in a new book titled "Be Water, My Friend: The Teachings of Bruce Lee."
- In this video, Shannon shares a story of the fight that led to her father beginning a deeper philosophical journey, and how that informed his unique expression of martial arts called Jeet Kune Do.
- One lesson passed down from Bruce Lee was his use and placement of physical symbols as a way to help "cement for yourself this new way of being, or this new lesson you've learned." By working on ourselves (with the right tools), we can develop the skills necessary to rise and conquer new challenges.
A new survey also found that women executives believe imposter syndrome to be common among women in corporate America.
Am I the great pretender?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQ3NzQzOC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NzA2Nn0._YO27j8GmJnSeop1mPFxx_sOKg3DorgFFpcfHNYVV98/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C312%2C0%2C312&height=700" id="5201d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3474c9bcafb8198254dd798882b99551" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="diverse group meeting" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
Fake it till you make it (to the moon)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d991955b6be7f4d226a2e1572edec4f9"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/IrTrBNmMXG0?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Because the original study focused on highly successful women, there's been a misconception that only women suffer from imposter syndrome and the best remedy is for them to "just get over it." Neither is true.</p><p>Regarding the gender gap, there's been much back and forth in the research. <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/men-suffer-from-impostor-syndrome-2016-1" target="_blank">Men certainly suffer</a> from imposter syndrome, and some studies have suggested men <a href="https://qz.com/1296783/it-turns-out-men-not-women-suffer-more-from-imposter-syndrome/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be more inclined toward it</a>—at least under specific conditions. But due to social expectations and cultural norms, they may not be as open about it. Other studies have found women, especially women of color and those from the LGBTQ community, to be <a href="https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200724-why-imposter-syndrome-hits-women-and-women-of-colour-harder" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">hit harder by imposter syndrome</a>.</p><p>Thankfully, for both men and women, there are ways to diminish these fraudulent feelings of phoniness. <a href="https://time.com/5312483/how-to-deal-with-impostor-syndrome/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Speaking with Time</a>, imposter syndrome expert Valerie Young recommended reframing your thoughts. We can learn to be mindful of the disruptive thought, relabeling it as a feeling and not a reality. We can learn to appreciate constructive criticism, develop growth mindsets, and push ourselves to ask questions rather than holding back out of fear. And as KPMG's study showed, having a supportive person to speak honestly with can do wonders.</p><p>"The goal is not to never feel like an impostor. The goal for me is to give [people] the tools and the insight and information to talk themselves down faster," Young told Time. "They can still have an impostor moment, but not an impostor life."</p><p>Short of pathological narcissism, I imagine we all have our imposter moments. I think <a href="https://neil-gaiman.tumblr.com/post/160603396711/hi-i-read-that-youve-dealt-with-with-impostor" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">author Neil Gaiman</a> illustrates this best in an anecdote. One night, Gaiman was chatting up a fellow Neil at a very important event filled with very important people who had done very important things. Like Gaiman, the elderly Neil felt he didn't belong in such a prestigious company. That Neil was, of course, Neil Armstrong.</p><p>As Gaiman put it so well: "And I felt a bit better. Because if Neil Armstrong felt like an imposter, maybe everyone did. Maybe there weren't any grown-ups, only people who had worked hard and also got lucky and were slightly out of their depth, all of us doing the best job we could, which is all we can really hope for."</p>
The problem is that what's true of magnets is not at all true of romance.