GRANTED: A new type of bias and how not to burn out while helping out
Ah, the joy of discovering your own hypocrisy. This time it started when I decided to write an article about families. As I dipped my toe into unfamiliar research waters, I pinged a few colleagues for advice. After several hours of goose-chasing and wheel-spinning, I finally contacted an expert I knew, who took a grand total of twelve minutes to get back to me with the answer.
I should’ve known better. I once published a paper with two colleagues on how many of us seek out the wrong people for help. Instead of going to the most qualified source, we ask the colleague who is most accessible. We don’t want to bother a busy person or embarrass ourselves by admitting our ignorance to an expert. That’s how I felt—even though I was familiar with evidence that seeking advice often makes us look strong, not weak. That people are more productive when they’re busy (if they’re actually busy, not trying to look important). That although experts need the least help, they get the most of it (who doesn’t love to impress a genius?).
In my inbox, there are few things that delight me more than someone asking “have you ever seen a study on…” in the realm of work or psychology. I often tell former students it would be cruel to deprive me of the joy of that giving. So from now on, when I have a fast question, I’m taking it to the most knowledgeable source.
Now let's kick off the month with some of my favorite recent reads:
1. Why Facts Don't Change Our Minds
We spot the weaknesses in other people's arguments, but we’re blind to our own. One of the most important articles I've read in a long time.
2. Want to Be More Productive? Sit Next to Someone Who Is
Work habits are contagious: sit next to someone whose productivity is double the average, and yours goes up by 10%.
3. How 'Intellectual Humility' Can Make You a Better Person
Most people think they're less biased than the average American. This is my new favorite bias: the “I’m-not-biased bias.”
4. What Happened When One School Banned Homework
School eliminates homework, assigns kids to (1) read at night, (2) play outside, (3) have family dinner, (4) get a good night's sleep. I’d love to see more elementary schools follow their lead.
From My Desk:
5. Generosity Burnout
Generosity means caring about others, but not at the expense of caring for yourself. Reb Rebele and I explore how to avoid giver burnout.
6. Beyond Grit: The Science of Creativity, Purpose, and Motivation
We don't discover passions; we develop them. Angela Duckworth and I discuss the power and limits of grit.
And finally, xkcd on why everyone should take statistics: