1. Which colour should you paint the office walls to improve your team’s creativity? A) Red  B) Pink  C) Blue  D) Yellow

C) Blue. We’re using a recent Canadian study for this one and there might be cultural differences. The researchers found that people who looked at a blue screen came up with more uses for a brick and were more creative on a word task.

2. Let’s say you want to cut down on unhealthy foods, but you enjoy a sugary breakfast cereal. How could you use your spoon to break the habit of eating so much each morning?

Put the spoon in your non-preferred hand. You’ll be disrupting your normal pattern of eating cereal and that’s the key. People asked to use their non-preferred hands ate far less popcorn at a movie. Those who used their preferred hands ate the whole huge bucket, even when the popcorn was stale and horrible.

How to use the idea at work. Break a time-consuming habit by disrupting your routine. Spending too much time talking to your colleague in the next cubicle? Arrange to catch up just before going home. Spending too much time on the phone? Stand when you make calls.

3. Which would make most people happier on a crowded bus? A) Starting a conversation with someone they don’t know  B) Travelling in silence

A) Starting a conversation with someone they don’t know.  Researchers tested it with passengers on buses, trains, taxis and in waiting rooms. Even the introverts who made the effort reported that chatting to a stranger made them significantly happier. It’s not what most of them expected. They thought the other passengers would be reluctant to talk or annoyed. It didn’t happen.

At work. Make the effort. Start conversations with people you don't know.

4. Let’s say you are selling wines. French wines are your slow sellers this week. How could you boost your sales without dropping your prices or spending any money?

Play French music.

At work In retailing, use music to create the atmosphere you want. French sells French, German sells German and classical music sells more expensive items. 

5. You are selling your bike on Trade Me. Should you make your minimum bid high or low?

Low. Social psychologists report that lower initial prices generate higher sale prices. One explanation is that bidders notice the buzz and assume that the product must be good if so many people are interested.

At work If you want your colleagues to join a project, arrange for a few to volunteer early. (It's the 'social proof' principle.)

6. What’s the most effective way for a man to attract a woman? A) Be physically attractive  B) Be a gentleman  C) Have a great sense of humour

C) Have a great sense of humour. The others are helpful, but Professor David Buss from the University of Texas reports that GSOH is the ‘single most effective tactic men can use to attract women’. Why? Researchers are still arguing about it. There’s a gender difference in humour too. Women are attracted by men who make them laugh. Men are attracted by women who laugh at their jokes.

At work Use (appropriate) humour to build your rapport with your colleagues.

7. Which of these candidates has the advantage with recruiters? A) Alan who has blond hair  B) Michelle who has an impressive CV  C) Damian who is taller than average  D) Fiona who has red hair

C) Damian. Being tall is a significant advantage. In one recent study, recruiters chose the taller of two applicants 72 per cent of the time. On average, winning candidates in the American presidential elections have been 2.5 cm taller than their opponents. (Donald Trump is 188 cm  or 6ft 2 inches).

At work When recruiting or choosing people for promotion, be careful to set aside irrelevant biases. (Many of them are unconscious, so check with colleagues.)

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