Bar room jokes aside there are several interesting studies on the impact that size has on the way we perceive people and the way they behave.
They wanted to know whether or not your workspace would have an effect on your honesty.
What they found was that the bigger and larger the space and seating, which encouraged expansive gestures, the more likely it was that people would pocket overpayments, cheat on a test, and break the rules in a driving simulator.
In the first test they deliberately overpaid people for participating in the test and found that 78% of those with the bigger chairs kept it compared with 38% of people working in cramped spaces.
They also observed illegally parked cars in New York and found that when a driver’s seat increased by 1 standard deviation from the mean the probability that a car would be double parked increased from 51% to 71%.
The researchers say that when we have more space we can adopt more expansive postures and these often project high power whereas people working in constrictive spaces where they have to keep their limbs close to their bodies project low power.
The findings were not influenced by the height of the person nor by how corrupt the person might have been before the experiment as they were randomly assigned. The posture was the only variable.
This is interesting as I would have thought that people working in constricted or uncomfortable environments might be likely to cheat just to get back at their employer – a kind of organisational justice.
But we also know that power corrupts.
Yapp and his colleagues admit there might be cultural differences e.g. Asian norms of modesty and humility are inconsistent with the power posturing.
The research replicates that done at Columbia University (see below) on the size of desks (and illegal parking in New York).
Main source: “Big chairs create big cheats” HBR November 2013
Researchers at the Robert H Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland measured the signatures of 650 CEOs on 10 years’ worth of annual reports from almost 400 top 500 companies.
Large signatures, which have been linked to narcissistic personality traits such as dominance and an outsize ego, were positively associated with overspending, lower return on assets, but higher CEO pay relative to other industry peers.
The companies of these CEOs spend more on capital goods and acquisitions but had worse sales and sales growth over several years. They also had fewer patents suggesting a lack of innovation.
This is probably because narcissistic leaders dominate discussions, ignore criticism and belittle other employees.
The assumption about big signatures and narcissism is based on research by Richard Zweigenhaft which showed that people with higher self-esteem and more dominant personalities had large signatures.
It’s also the case that the CEO population is more narcissistic than the general population as well as having other dark triad characteristics.
Source: HBR May 2013
Researchers at Columbia Business School think sprawling across an over-size desk makes people feel more self-confident and more likely to behave dishonestly to further their careers.
The researchers manipulated the size of workspaces and found that people were more dishonest on tests when their environment allowed them to stretch out.
In another study they found that drivers given bigger car seats were more likely to be involved in “hit and run” incidents when incentivised to go faster in a driving simulation.
They also checked 126 cars on New York City streets, half of which were parked illegally. They found that drivers with large car seats were more likely to be breaking the law.
Research conducted for Brother Europe, when it was promoting its new A3 printer range across Europe, seems to prove that.
Professor Richard Wiseman, a leading human behaviour psychologist and author of; “:59 seconds. Think a little Change a lot”, carried out the research and he found that in “Dragons’ Den-style” pitch scenarios, businesses using A3 marketing materials appeared ‘significantly bigger, more successful and professional’ than those using standard A4 prints.
Moving from size to weight, in a paper published by researchers at MIT, Harvard and Yale universities; “Incidental haptic sensations influence social judgements and decisions” it appears that our sense of touch (the haptic impressions) also influences our thoughts.
They asked people to scrutinise a job candidate by looking at a resume (CV) placed on either heavy or light clipboards. The people using heavy clipboards viewed the candidate as possessing a more serious interest in the job and as more likely to succeed than those holding a light clipboard. They conclude that; “First impressions are liable to be influenced by one’s tactile environment”.
They say that understanding how the tactile environment influences perception could be relevant in; “almost any situation where you are trying to present information about yourself or attempting to influence people“.
My colleague and I have always advised candidates to use heavy-duty paper for their CVs and covering letters rather than 70/80 gm supermarket special photocopy paper. This was based on creating a good impression (because first impressions count) but now it seems it’s not just how good it looks but how heavy.
As the researchers say; “physical experiences are mentally tied to metaphors …. when you activate something physically it starts up the metaphor related to that experience in people’s heads” eg heavy = solid, reliable, serious, and so on.”
And next time someone puts a clipboard into my hands ….
These posts appeared separately on SGANDA previously
Research shows that accuracy in our ability to decide if someone can be trusted is little better than chance.
According to David DeSteno, a psychology professor at Northeastern University writing in the Harvard Business Review (“Who can you trust“), it’s because we place too much emphasis on reputation and perceived confidence.
We also ignore that fact that people can change in different contexts and we don’t trust our intuition enough.
DeSteno proposes 4 things to bear in mind:
1 Integrity can vary. People use reputation as a proxy for integrity but it isn’t a stable trait. Because someone has been fair and honest in the past doesn’t mean they will continue to be so in different circumstances.
His research into cheating shows that 90% of people will cheat if they believe they won’t get caught. And they then rationalise those actions rather than accept that they are untrustworthy.
2 Power does corrupt. Appearances can be deceptive but the author cites research by Paul Pliff, a social psychologist at Berkeley, which suggests that indicators of socio-economic status can predict trustworthiness.
Increasing status and power correlate with decreasing honesty and reliability. It’s not that rich people are inherently less trustworthy than poor people but that a person’s honesty depends on his or her relative feelings of power or vulnerability.
Assigning people to be a boss or a follower in office simulations Joris Lammers, a psychologist at the University of Cologne, found that those elevated to more senior roles displayed a high degree of hypocritical behaviour and were quick to condemn others for unethical, self-interested behaviour whilst judging their own actions to be acceptable.
When someone has a higher status than you, or even just thinks so, his mind tells him that you need him more than he needs you. Consequently he focuses on short-term outcomes and worries less about the long-term effect of being untrustworthy.
This explains why big companies often treat smaller clients less well than their larger ones.
3 Confidence often masks incompetence. Honourable intentions mean nothing if a person is incompetent. We know this instinctively from an early age (4-year olds will pick people as instructors whom they perceive as more competent).
But confidence is so alluring that we tend to trust information provided by people who exude it, especially when money is at stake. Hence the success of confidence tricksters.
In newly formed groups those members who expressed pride in the group quickly rose to positions of leadership even though the abilities that their pride stemmed from weren’t relevant to the group’s objectives.
So while reputation isn’t a good predictor of integrity it is of competence because capabilities are more stable.
4 It’s OK to trust your instinct.
Despite decades of research into researching ways of detecting untrustworthiness most people do little better than chance. Even trained experts.
That’s because most of us look for a single “tell” to indicate whether or not someone can be trusted whereas we need to look for a set of gestures. This is something we can do instinctively.
So is it better to trust or not? If you have no information to go on then a bias towards trusting is better for long-term gains. Otherwise remember these 4 rules!
The 5 dysfunctions of a team
Patrick Lencioni is a strong advocate of trust in teams. In his best-selling book, “The 5 Dysfunctions of Teams” he sets down a hierarchy (see diagram below).
But basically it’s all about Trust.
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
From Class Warfare?
New research suggests that more money makes people act less human. Or at least less humane.
Psychologists at the University of California at Berkeley have found that “upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals.” They also discovered that “Putting someone in a role where they’re more privileged and have more power in a game makes them behave like people who actually do have more power, more money, and more status”.
Check out their experiments on the Money-Empathy Gap in the video below:
These experiments also demonstrated that while a poor man playing in a ‘rich world’ becomes more self-centred, a rich man playing in a ‘poor’ world becomes more compassionate to others. That can potentially help people understand…
View original post 156 more words