Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

Compendium of interesting bits I come across, with an occasional IMHO

Overconfidence: good AND bad

You’d think overconfidence would be a bad trait to have.  This article discusses why it can be good.  From Discover Magazine, Jan-Feb 2012:

The Too-Sure Thing

Overconfidence can help explain wars, financial disasters, and collapsed 
civilizations. Social scientist James Fowler explores how such a destructive social 
trait manages to thrive.

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May 17, 2012 Posted by | anthropology, behaviour | , , , | Leave a comment

How to Work With Others

Great tip from Wired magazine’s November 2011 edition:

Looking out for number one is not a great survival strategy. We know this intuitively or we wouldn’t tip waiters or stop at red lights. Game theorists discovered years ago that cooperative strategies usually produce the most success. Computer models show that the top dog isn’t the most ruthless; it’s the one who reciprocates. Math proves the golden rule.

There were conditions, of course. If you’re “nice”—that is, if you cooperate—but your competition responds with lying or cheating, you have to retaliate. (Forgiveness is part of the equation, too, though. Slap the wrist and move on.)

The theory got more support when evolutionary biologists started noticing how important cooperation is to evolution. “If I am willing to let others have a slightly bigger share of the pie, then people will want to share pies with me,” wrote Harvard researcher Martin Nowak. “Generosity bakes successful deals.” In other words, a social group that plays by these rules becomes a kind of superorganism. (Like an ant colony—or Twitter.) That’s especially true in a globally integrated world. So unless you’ve got a ship packed for Mars, best to play nice.—K. C. Cole

January 5, 2012 Posted by | behaviour, lifehack | , | Leave a comment

Be touched to give more

My conclusion from the article below: if you’re negotiating, offer your opponent a free massage before your meeting, and make sure you avoid one. Especially true for women.

Evolutionary psychology

A touch of generosity

Aug 14th 2008
From The Economist print edition

Touch can inspire munificence towards those you trust

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August 15, 2008 Posted by | evolutionary psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment