1. Which is more accurate? A) Humans are naturally optimistic B) Humans are naturally pessimistic C) It depends on their personality
A) Humans are naturally optimistic. There’s even a part of our brains responsible for our optimism - the right inferior frontal gyrus. Unless we are depressed, we overrate our chances of success, our talents and our popularity. We underrate our chances of anything going wrong. If we receive encouraging information our brains process it efficiently. If the news is negative, our right inferior frontal gyrus does a go-slow. Is that bias a bad thing? Put it this way, optimistic people live longer, have fewer infections, work harder and have less stress. A little bit of unreality is healthy. Too much is just denial.
2. Which is correct? A) Our left brain is for creativity, our right brain is for logic B) Our right brain is for creativity, our left brain for logic C) Neither
C) Neither The cliché is B, but it’s a gross oversimplification. The hemispheres of our brains interact for most activities. One of the pioneers of the early ‘split brain’ research that led to the cliché reported that the left hemisphere is responsible for ‘inventive interpreting’ and the right for ‘truthful, literal’ functions. You could interpret those descriptions as the opposite of what pop psychology has been telling us over the last 20 years.
3. You’ve heard some swearing around the office and you want to discourage it. How effective would a swear box with a fine of 20 cents for every lapse be? A) It would work as long as everyone agrees it’s a good idea. B) It wouldn’t work, even if everyone agrees.
B) It wouldn’t work, even if everyone agrees. The fine would become the price of swearing and some people would see 20 cents a lapse as a bargain. Many studies have shown that modest fines increase undesirable behaviour. A more effective approach? Appeal to your colleagues’ motivation to be a good team player, including consideration for others.
4. Is it true that left-handed people tend to have a higher IQ and be more artistic?
No. It’s a myth. A recent study confirmed no differences in abilities, though oddly enough, southpaws earn on average up to 10 per cent less than right-handers. Researchers are not sure why.
5. Is it true that our genes influence our creativity, or is creativity something we just learn?
It's true. Recent studies confirm a strong link between the genes we inherit and our creativity. The most recent study compared identical twins, non-identical twins and siblings who were not twins. The identical twins shared the most genes and it was much more likely that they both had careers in film, music, dance or writing.
6. Why is it harder to talk when looking into someone’s eyes? (It is for most people.)
Eye contact drains our brain’s resources. The more complicated our story (or excuse), the more likely we will need to look away so that we can concentrate. Why does it matter? It’s easy to assume that if someone isn’t looking us in the eye, we must be hearing porkies. It isn’t necessarily so.
7. How important is it to learn using your preferred learning style – such as pictures, words or experience? A) It’s vital. B) It’s useful. C) It’s not at all important.
C) It's not at all important. A recent survey showed that 93 per cent of British teachers thought teaching to match preferred learning styles was better, but it’s a myth. The most effective learning style depends on the skill you want to learn. You might consider yourself an auditory learner, but imagine trying to learn how to tie your shoelaces by just listening to a string of instructions. So why has the myth persisted? The British Journal of Psychology reports a study suggesting that when we are being taught in the learning style we prefer, we believe we are learning more effectively, when we are not.