The indispensable research blog on the science of the modern workplace, covering everything from leadership and management to the behavioral, social, and cognitive dynamics behind performance and achievement.
Imagine you’re offered a job with a salary 15% above your current compensation, along with more vacation time. A no-brainer, right?
Have you considered the longer commute you’ll have to make, or the fact that the health-care benefits aren’t as generous as your current employer’s plan?
Weighing the pros and cons of a career move is inherently nerve-racking, but research suggests that people tend to focus on the salary and vacation time in the aforementioned scenario rather than the drawbacks. When people under stress are making a difficult decision, they may pay more attention to the upsides of the alternatives they’re considering and less to the downsides, studies show.
“This is sort of not what people would think right off the bat,” said University of Southern California professor Mara Mather, who conducted a review of this research with her colleague Nichole R.…
By the time Marissa Mayer took over a struggling Yahoo! and Meg Whitman rushed into aid a fading Hewlett-Packard, the term glass cliff was well-ensconced in the businesswoman’s lexicon. A steady stream of psychological research was showing that women are indeed more likely to be tapped for corporate leadership positions during times of crisis, when the risk of failure is at its highest.
The widespread assumption is that feminine leadership traits, such as being understanding and tactful, work better under such circumstances.
Some psychologists, however, suggest that the “think crisis—the female” association fuels a form of sexism, in which where men are setting women up to take an inevitable fall. But are women simply more inclined than men to take on these “fix-it” roles?
In a pair of studies last year, European psychological scientists found evidence to the contrary.
Led by Floor…
Whether you’re low on the totem pole at a new firm or a raking in a piddling salary in a dead-end job, the thought of climbing the social status ladder is intimidating. It often seems like clawing — rather than climbing — might be the most effective way to get the social status boost that comes with a promotion offer or salary hike.
Oddly enough, for a particular subset of men with greater facial width-to-height ratios (FWHR) — a physical sign of high testosterone levels — aggressive behavior might actually be a go-to strategy for getting what they want.
As reported in a recent Psychological Science article, men who find themselves at the bottom of the social status ladder and who have greater FWHR tend to be more aggressive than their colleagues…
The business world is filled with stories of surprise betrayals — the amiable broker who defrauds clients into buying overpriced stocks, or the trusted partner caught embezzling from the firm. Picking up on someone’s selfish motives when they put up a friendly facade is a critical skill in deal making, but new research suggests that high levels of a brain hormone called oxytocin might hinder this ability.
Sometimes called the “trust hormone,” oxytocin has been shown to foster social relations in a number of situations. Even a handshake or a compliment gives a boost of oxytocin and a feeling of connectedness. But as a forthcoming article in Psychological Science suggests, this same hormone might actually inhibit our skill in detecting hidden intentions in others’ faces.
Psychological scientist Eyal Winter and colleagues had 84 participants watch a…
Nearly 40 percent of American workers say they’ve been sabotaged, yelled at, belittled, or subjected to some other form of bullying by their bosses, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute. Research documents that managers and supervisors behave this way to compensate for their own feelings of incompetence. But can the harsh behavior be bridled by making the boss feel affirmed and appreciated?
According to work by psychological researcher Nathanael Fast and his colleagues, this approach may indeed be effective. In lab and field experiments, Fast, an assistant professor of management and organization at the University of Southern California, has found that people in positions of power become nasty when they feel incompetent as leaders. But he’s also found that people lower their aggression when their sense of self-worth gets a boost.
In one field study, for example, Fast and Serena Chen of…