Meetings make us dumber, study shows

People have a harder time coming up with alternative solutions to a problem when they are part of a group, new research suggests.

Scientists exposed study participants to one brand of soft drink then asked them to think of alternative brands. Alone, they came up with significantly more products than when they were grouped with two others.

See full article on MSNBC.

Don’t miss the gorilla

See this interesting article on how “focussed” humans become when they have a specific task at hand.

Picture yourself watching a one-minute video of two teams of three players each. One team wears white shirts and the other black shirts, and the members move around one another in a small room tossing two basketballs. Your task is to count the number of passes made by the white team – not easy given the weaving movement of the players. Unexpectedly, after 35 seconds a gorilla enteres the room, walks directly through the farrago of bodies, thumps his chest and, nine seconds later, exits. Would you see the gorilla?

Fifty percent of all observers do not see the gorilla.

Mis-wanting: People don’t really know what they’ll want in the future

See this interesting article on how we really know much less about our (future) desires than we think.


My favourite is a simple experiment in which two groups of participants get free sandwiches if they participate in the experiment – a doozie for any undergraduate.

One group has to choose which sandwiches they want for an entire week in advance. The other group gets to choose which they want each day. A fascinating thing happens. People who choose their favourite sandwich each day at lunchtime also often choose the same sandwich. This group turns out to be reasonably happy with its choice.

Amazingly, though, people choosing in advance assume that what they’ll want for lunch next week is a variety. And so they choose a turkey sandwich Monday, tuna on Tuesday, egg on Wednesday and so on. It turn out that when next week rolls around they generally don’t like the variety they thought they would. In fact they are significantly less happy with their choices than the group who chose their sandwiches on the day.

For example, how good would you feel if you won the lottery? Most people predict their lives will be completely changed and they’ll be much happier. What does the research find? Yes, people are measurably happier after they’ve just won, but six months down the line they’re back to their individual ‘baseline’ level of happiness.