Discover more from Hidden Brain
Why you feel exhausted after some social interactions
Plus, where workplace accidents are most likely to happen.
“Friction is the psychological force or the set of forces that resist change. Frictions take different forms, and we often don't see them. We often don't talk about them, but in essence, frictions act as drag on innovation and change.” — Psychologist Loran Nordgren
Yaaawn. Have you ever spent time with someone and felt inexplicably tired during the interaction? Turns out, there’s an explanation for that feeling. Psychologists say you’re draining your social energy. “People intuitively understand social energy,” said Jeffrey Hall, director of the University of Kansas Relationships and Technology Lab. “They talk about not having the bandwidth to go out, and talk about a conversation or a person being exhausting.” Hall and his colleagues wanted to explore what makes a social interaction energy intensive. In a series of experiments, they discovered something interesting: The lonelier we feel during a social interaction, the more drained we feel afterward. For example, they found that people didn’t feel as exhausted after a loud, exciting event if, during that event, they felt connected to those around them. This seems to suggest that our social energy is influenced less by the environment and more by how close we feel to the people we’re interacting with. “Feeling rejected heightened people’s need to belong, but because they are tired there isn’t much they can do about it,” said Hall. “This describes the experience of feeling tired but wishing you had someone to talk to.”
Play it safe. You’d think that the more dangerous the workplace environment, the higher the rate of workplace accidents. But new research finds that workplace accidents are most likely to happen in environments that are considered “moderately” dangerous. Researchers discovered this trend by analyzing historical workplace industry data. For example, in one dataset, they looked at wind and sea conditions for sailors. “When the seas are calm, there is little chance for a sailor to experience an accident,” the study reported. “Likewise, when the seas are very rough, we expect most sailors to ‘batten down the hatches’ and exhibit a very high degree of safety behavior.” But they predicted that under moderately hazardous sea conditions, workers might be less likely to take the necessary precautions, “thereby leading to the highest likelihood of an accident.” The researchers tested this theory in two studies and found evidence for it—that people spend less time and effort on practicing safety when the environment is only moderately dangerous. “It appears that the level of safety behaviors needed to offset moderate dangers is simply not very obvious or intuitive,” said James Beck, the study’s lead author.
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ON THE HIDDEN BRAIN PODCAST
May 15: Convincing people to embrace new ideas is hard. Most of us think the best way to win people over is to push harder. But organizational psychologist Loran Nordgren says a more effective approach is to focus on the invisible obstacles to new ideas.
ON THE MY UNSUNG HERO PODCAST
May 16: Lily was feeling wary of strangers after filing a restraining order against someone. Then a small gesture from a store clerk reminded her of the kindness all around her.
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.
FROM OUR LISTENERS
I speak without a mouth and hear without ears. I have no body but I come alive with the wind. What am I?
LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE
There are three light switches in a room. Only one switch controls a light bulb in an adjoining room, and you can only enter the adjoining room once to check if the bulb is on or off. How can you figure out which switch controls the light bulb if you can only enter the adjoining room once?
The answer: Turn on the first switch and leave it on for a few minutes. Turn off the first switch and turn on the second switch. Enter the adjoining room. If the light is on, you know the second switch controls the light bulb. If the light is off and the bulb is warm to the touch, then you know the first switch controls the light bulb. If the light is off and the bulb is cold, then you know the third switch controls the light bulb.
A MOMENT OF JOY
Happy birthday to the world’s oldest dog. May his special day be filled with endless belly rubs.
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