Author Archive | Jonathan Becher

The 90-Minute Rule

“Human beings aren’t designed to expend energy continuously. Rather, we’re meant to pulse between spending and recovering energy.” – Tony Schwartz (source) In the late 1950’s, researchers William Dement and Nathaniel Kleitman documented that humans sleep in 90-minute cycles – from light to deep sleep and back to light sleep again. Professor Kleitman later discovered…

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When Promoting People, Beware the False Record Effect

After writing about several examples of bias from insensitivity to sample size, a former colleague asked whether I thought performance in the workplace was subject to the same bias. She observed that people were sometimes rewarded or even promoted for high performance, even if that performance was sporadic rather than sustained. She asked: Shouldn’t the…

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The Myth of the Seven-Eleven Rule

Ever heard about the Seven-Eleven Rule? Neither had I. The seven-eleven rule is based on the belief that people make eleven decisions about a person in the first seven seconds after meeting them. Apparently, the eleven conclusions you make are the following: Education Level Economic Level Perceived Credibility, Believability, Competence and Honesty Trustworthiness Level of…

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Do mobile phones cause you to trust less?

If you use your smart phone frequently, you’re less likely to trust strangers. Kostadin Kushlev of the University of Virginia and Jason Proulx of the University of British Columbia came to this conclusion by analyzing data from the most recent World Values Survey. The World Values Survey is a U.S. nationally-representative poll in which participants…

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Fear of using nuclear energy might be contributing to global warming

Remember the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster? In 1986, there was an accident during a test at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the Ukraine and the resulting explosion released at least 5% of the radioactive reactor core into the atmosphere. The radiation released was 400 times the radiation produced by the bombing of Hiroshima during World…

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In Business, Informal Tribes Matter More Than Formal Teams

Not long after I joined my last employer, a colleague provided me with an incredibly important insight on how to get things done. Informal networks, she explained, were much stronger than the official hierarchy. Top-down decisions were usually met with questions which delayed their implementation. On the other hand, powerfully-connected people could implement decisions virally…

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