The Real Risks of ‘Racy’ Thinking

Huffington Post:

I worked in the news business for many years, and sometimes the pace could get hectic. But the work day didn’t really charge up until mid-morning. In the early-morning hours, my routine was to leaf through several of the day’s newspapers, including the sports section, usually with my feet up on my desk. Occasionally I would check the AP ticker or turn on the TV, but not until after I had spent some time with the papers and my morning coffee.

This was back in the 20th century, of course, and looking back, that pace seems almost leisurely by today’s standards. Technology has radically altered the way that many of us consume information. I still read a couple of papers every morning, but I also sort through email at two different addresses, responding to urgent ones and marking others for later attention. I scan for several Google alerts. I check out my Facebook and Twitter accounts, and reply as needed, and I do all of this at a much faster pace than I did in the past.

Sometimes I wonder if this modern pace is having any psychological consequences, and not just for journalists. We’re all bombarded by information these days, unless we take deliberate steps to avoid it. Do we feel and act differently as a result of all this rapid-fire stimulation? Is it detrimental?

Psychological scientists are very interested in this question, too, and have been exploring both the costs and the possible benefits of the 21st century’s rapid onslaught of information. Princeton University scientists Jesse Chandler and Emily Pronin are among the pioneers who have been studying “thought speed.” When we think of how our thoughts shape our emotions and behavior, we tend to focus on what we’re thinking — thought content. But Chandler and Pronin believe that this other dimension of thinking — its pace — might be just as important.

Read the whole story: Huffington Post

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