A big drawback to being too agreeable
Plus, never underestimate an act of kindness
“Dictionaries are wonderful things, but they create an illusion that there's such a thing as a language that stands still when really, it's the nature of human language to change.” –linguist John McWhorter
Thanks, stranger. Has a stranger ever done something nice for you? Chances are, it really brightened your day. Yet we consistently underestimate the value of our own acts of kindness. In a newly published study, researchers conducted a series of experiments where they encouraged volunteers to do something nice for a stranger. For example, in one experiment, people received a free cup of hot cocoa that they could either keep for themselves or give away to someone else. For those who gave it away, researchers asked them to estimate how much the act of kindness impacted the recipient. Then they asked the recipient the same thing. The results? “[T]hose performing a random act of kindness consistently underestimated how positive their recipients would feel, thinking their act was of less value than recipients perceived it to be,” the researchers wrote. More kind acts from strangers here.
Let’s agree to disagree. You’ve heard the saying “nice guys finish last,” and when it comes to money, there may be some truth to it. A recent study used survey data to measure personality traits and money attitudes. It found that people who ranked high in agreeableness tended to have worse financial outcomes. They saved less money, had higher debt loads, and were more likely to spend impulsively. It’s not necessarily because agreeable people are bad negotiators or easily exploited by others, either. The researchers didn’t find evidence for this and instead hypothesized that agreeable people might assign “a lower subjective value to money.” If you’re agreeable, there’s good news: you can rewrite your money story.
Mind reading. Think you’re good at reading people? Researchers have found that our attempts to do so go wrong more often than we realize. We talk with psychologist Tessa West about what we can all do to read people more accurately. Listen to learn more.
ON THE HIDDEN BRAIN PODCAST
Oct 3: If you're bilingual or multilingual, you may have noticed that different languages make you stretch in different ways. This week, we ask whether the structure of the languages we speak can change the way we see the world. We'll also look at how languages evolve, and why we're sometimes resistant to those changes.
ON THE MY UNSUNG HERO PODCAST
Oct 4: Walter almost gave up crossing the Mexican desert. Then a fellow migrant carried him. "He just pulled me up, put me on his back and started walking."
Don’t forget to send us the story of your unsung hero! Record a voice memo on your phone and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are two ducks in front of a duck, two ducks behind a duck, and a duck in the middle. How many ducks are there?
LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE
If the day before yesterday is the 23rd, then what is the day after tomorrow?
The answer: The 27th
FROM THE TWITTERATI…
A MOMENT OF JOY
Living the gourd life.
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