Does being reminded of money make you an uncooperative jerk or an independent thinker?

Dedicated readers know that I’ve written a fair bit on how contingent rewards, including money, can go awry in all sorts of ways — resulting in poorer performance, diminished creativity, reduced interest in tasks that were once intrinsically interesting, and so on. But can the very idea of money also affect our behavior? In an […]


I’ll take gender differences for $800, Alex

A: This popular game show presents an elegant environment for studying the effects of gender on competition. Q: What is Jeopardy? Scores of studies have examined the differences between men and women when it comes to competition, but a recent paper called “Girls will be Girls – Especially among Boys” (pdf) takes a clever approach […]


A 30-second test to determine whether your boss is a gem or a jerk

Let’s say you and I are talking in person — and I make a strange request: “Take your right forefinger and draw a capital E on your forehead.” There are two ways to do that, of course. You can draw like the guy on the left or like the guy on the right. But which […]


Can watching Pong make you more creative?

Brandon Schauer at Adaptive Path has put together a 49-second video designed to invigorate your corpus callosum and fire your creative powers. In a blog post, he says that his creation builds on research showing that side-to-side eye movement, by increasing communication between the left and right hemisphere, can increase creativity. If you’re facing a […]


I doodle, therefore I am

NPR has a terrific story — complete with this official Barack Obama scribble-pic — about why the human brain often prompts the human hand into doodling during boring meetings and phone calls.Turns out that this aimless artistry isn’t so aimless after all. It’s keeps us from doing a full Walter Mitty when we’re not sufficiently […]


Happy Darwin Day!


The future of online news . . . circa. 1981

BoingBoing points to this 1981 report from KRON-TV in San Francisco about the incipient move toward online news. It’s great viewing — especially the breathless factoid that 2,000 to 3,000 people the Bay Area already have a personal computer (!) and the tag identifying one of the interviewees as someone who “Owns A Home Computer.”


10 Steps to Happiness

Alternet gleans several years of research from the field of positive psychology to reveal “10 Things Science Says will Make You Happy.”  The list, paraphrased, is: Stop and enjoy the present. Don’t compare yourself to the Joneses. Don’t obsess over money. Aspire to leave an imprint. Be intrinsically motivated on the job. Build a supportive network of family […]


Quote of the day: The power of “Huh?”

“In science, the most exciting expression isn’t ‘Eureka!’ It’s ‘Huh?’”– Michael Hawley, a computer scientist and director of SiOnyx, quoted in the NY Times, 10/12/08 


Bored and sleepy? You’re golden!

First The Times tells us that being bored pumps up our cognitive muscles. In fact, say two scientists quoted in the story, it’s time for boredom to “be recognized as a legitimate human emotion that can be central to learning and creativity.”Now Scientific American parachutes in to say that sleep is similarly essential for memory and other […]