Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Why do hard chairs increase rigidity in negotiations?

A study by Joshua M. Ackerman (MIT), Christopher C. Nocera (Harvard), and John A. Bargh (Yale) showed that “hard objects increased rigidity in negotiations.” 

One of a series of experiments involved a simulated car price negotiation in which the subject had to make a price offer for a car, which was rejected. Then, the “buyer” had to make a second offer. The subjects were also asked to evaluate their negotiating partner. The researchers found that there was a significant difference between subjects sitting in hard and soft chairs. Those seated in hard chairs judged their negotiating partner to be less emotional. Most significantly, the “buyers” in soft chairs increased their offer by nearly 40% more than those in hard chairs. 
In short, a hard chair not changed the buyers’ perception of their negotiating partner, it made them harder bargainers.

Another experiment had subjects feel a hard block of wood or a soft blanket before rating a boss/employee interaction. The subjects who felt the hard block rated the employee as being more rigid than those who felt the blanket. 

Do these laboratory findings translate into real-world results? 
Study author Joshua Ackerman says, “I suspect that the stresses of real-world decision-making environments will act as mental distracters, making people even more susceptible to the effects of tactile cues.”

Monday, November 17, 2014

Thinking; Fast and Slow

Daniel Kahneman is an eminence  on Judgement and Decision Making.  Since mid-1970s, with Amos Tversky, he was among the first academics to research on "why we make "wrong" decisions".

Early studies from late 70's gave birth to the Prospect Theory - a behavioral economic theory stating that people make decisions based on the potential value of losses and gains rather than on the final outcome, and that people evaluate these losses and gains using certain heuristics. Such descriptive model tries to model real-life choices rather than optimal decision and awarded Kahneman with the Nobel Memorial Prize in 2002 for work with Tversky, who died before the award.

Drawing on decades of research, on his best seller book "Thinking, Fast and Slow", Kahneman goes on an exploration of what influences human thought.  Here is one of the bases of my master thesis; the so called System 1 and System 2, the fast and slow types of thinking, that become characters illustrating the psychology behind things we think we understand but that really don't, such as intuition.
The dichotomy between these two modes of thought - S1 fast, instinctive and emotional and S2 slower, more deliberative, and more logical - is basis for a substantial explanation of the cognitive biases associated with each type of thinking and its own processes. If you get to the full picture, the reading of this book will potentially change the way you think, not just about thinking, but about how we live our lives.
A talk on TED - The riddle of experience vs memory
An interviewn on SPIEGEL : Debunking the Myth of Intuition


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My stroke of insight (by Jill Bolte)

In this TED presentation, brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor tells her experience in 1996 of having a stroke in her left hemisphere, and how that gave her insight into brain functioning, particularly as it relates to the different functions of the two brain hemispheres.
The irony of a narrative of a neurologic disease being recounted by a neuroscientist adds a special flavor to the story, and Taylor's description of the onset and progression of the stroke while she was alone in her apartment shoking and moving at the same time.
A lot of food for thought. Amazing sharing with lessons of bravery and resilience.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What CEO's Really Want from Coaching?

Two-thirds of CEOs don’t receive any outside advice on their leadership skills, and yet almost all would be receptive to suggestions from a coach.

These statistics are from a Stanford University/The Miles Group survey released on 2013 that asked 200 CEO’ss, board directors, and other senior executives questions about how they receive and view leadership advice.

Any experienced professional knows that when things go well, blind spots are less obvious and becomes very easy for executives to become almost strictly inward looking feeded by the successful events around. None the less, those blind spots can sometimes become devastating when performance moves in the other direction.

External coaching provides a good, neutral third party assessment for a reality check for executives, in a safe environment not influenced by personal agendas allowing time to think through various topics against the framework each individual as the coach is only concerned with that person success.

Image below shows the top areas were CEO's use coaching to improve. Sharing leadership and delegation, conflict management, team building, and mentoring are the primary ones.

The full document available at 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

What motivates us to work?

"Ignoring the performance of people is almost as bad as shredding their effort in front of their eyes."

Dan Ariely, Professor of Psychology & Behavioral Economics, is dedicated to answering questions such as "why do we so often fail to act in our own best interest?",  "why do we promise to skip the chocolate cake, only to find ourselves drooling our way into temptation when the dessert tray rolls around?" or "why do we overvalue things that we’ve worked to put together?".

Aimed at helping people live more sensible – if not rational – lives, his interests span a wide range of behaviors, and his sometimes unusual experiments are consistently interesting, amusing and informative, demonstrating profound ideas that fly in the face of common wisdom.

What motivates us to work? Contrary to conventional wisdom, it is not just MONEY !

But it's not exactly joy either.
Seems that most of us thrive by making constant progress and feeling a sense of purpose. Simply beeing looked at something that you have done and even only receiving a "uh huh," as feedback, seems to be quite sufficient to dramatically improve people's motivations.
So, the good news is that adding motivation doesn't seem to be so difficult.
The bad news is that eliminating motivations seems to be incredibly easy, and, if one does not think think about it carefully, it might overdo it.

In the knowledge economy, one of the key questions is if efficiency is still more important than meaning?  Dan Dan Ariely thinks the answer is no - he believes is even more a no, as we move to situations in which people have to decide on their own about how much effort, attention, caring, how connected they feel, etc.  When we think about labor, we usually think about motivation and payment as the same thing, but the reality is that we should probably add all kinds of things to it -- meaning, creation, challenges, ownership, identity, pride, etc. As all of those components and thought about them have been put together, how do we create our own meaning, pride, motivation, and how do we do it in our workplace and for the employees, it would make possible to get people to both be more productive and happier.

Learn more at

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Cognitive science as toolkit to better understand the nature of the human mind

Cognitive science can be a toolkit to better understand the nature of the human mind, why we do what we do and how we can do it better. The study of the human mind and its functions particularly looks at behaviour in a given context - why people act as they do and how is it possible to predicte behaviors.

It crosses fields such as Psychology (studying human mind and its functions particularly looking at behavior in a given context), Neuroscience (understanding the structure and functioning of the nervous system and human brain), Anthropology  (understanding humankind, human societies and cultures), Philosophy  (understanding the nature of knowledge, reality, human nature and existence), Linguistics (understanding the communication tools that enable speakers to communicate with each other, to express ideas, hypotheses, emotions, desires).

Visit the Cognitive Science Society website, that brings together researchers from around the world who hold a common goal: understanding the nature of the human mind. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

The power of believing you can improve (By Carol Dweck)

Carol Dweck researches “growth mindset” — the idea that we can grow our brain's capacity to learn and to solve problems.

In this TED talk, she describes two ways to think about a problem that’s slightly too hard for you to solve. Are you not smart enough to solve it … or have you just not solved it yet?

A great introduction to this influential field.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Embodiment; thoughts, feelings and behaviors grounded in the interaction of the body with the environment

Embodied cognition has become a topic of research in social and cognitive psychology having as base arguments for the theory that the motor system influences our cognition just as the mind influences our body actions.

An example is a study that showing that participants holding a pencil in their teeth and thus engaging their muscles in a smile, show to comprehend pleasant sentences faster than unpleasant ones. On the other hand, while holding a pencil between the nose and upper lip and thus engaging muscles in a shows the reverse effect. (Source: Glenberg, A.; Havas, D.; Becker, R.; & Rinck, M. (2010) - Grounding language in bodily states: the case for emotion. )

An exciting hypothesis for this theory that cognition is embodied, when the most common definition refers to the straight-forward claim that the states of the body modify states of the case for emotion. (Source: Borghi, A. M.; Cimatti, F. (2010) - Embodied cognition and beyond: Acting and sensing the body. )

In such case, this theory becomes increasingly interested - embodiment based on the assumption that thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are grounded in bodily interaction with the environment. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Antonio Damasio: The quest to understand consciousness

Antonio Damasio's research in neuroscience has shown that emotions play a central role in social cognition and decision-making. His work has had a major influence on current understanding of the neural systems, which underlie memory, language, consciousness.

“A mind is so closely shaped by the body and destined to serve it that only one mind could possibly arise in it. No body, never mind.” — Antonio Damasio in "The Feeling of What Happens"

Antonio Damasio: The quest to understand consciousness

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mindsight, The New Science of Personal Transformation (book by Dr. Daniel Siegel)

Coaching is the partnership between coach and client  aimed at engaging in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires the client to maximise their personal and professional potential.
Put another way, the practice of coaching takes individuals on a process of personal discovery and development to enhance the individual’s capability and effectiveness within the context of their personal lives, professional lives, or both.
The way humans learn and how coaching can further enhance such learning processes can been seen around the bases of neuroscience. Daniel Siegel defines the mind as “the embodied and relational process that regulates the flow of energy and information”.  This means the mind uses the brain just as software uses hardware. This image from Siegel refers to the ‘brain’ in terms of the nervous system, nerves, tissuesand physiological components within the human body and to the ‘mind’ in terms of each individual process of cognition, interpretation, and action.
In the book Mindsight, The New Science of Personal Transformation, Dr. Daniel Siegel  describes the triangular relationship and interplay between mind, brain and our relationships in an in-depth exploration of the power of the mind to integrate the brain and promote well-being.
A deeper look available via