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Mindful : June 2017
people copied, by hand, an account of sabotaging someone and then found products like soap and toothpaste more desirable than if they had cop- ied a story about helping someone. Later studies found that people felt guilty after washing. Again, when other scientists redid the orig- inal study they found no such effect. Maybe some people do have a Lady Macbeth thing going on, while others didn’t. The more import- ant lesson here is the need to be cautious in extrapolating an artificial lab setup (copying a story, not actually engaging in unethical behav- ior; rating soap and toothpaste, not actually scouring yourself ) to real life. 6 Big Brother watching: A poster of watchful eyes caused people, on the honor system, to chip in more for coffee than when the walls were bare. This 48-person 2006 study made head- lines and influenced public policy, with some British police departments putting up posters of staring eyes in an effort to keep people honest. But in 2011, a redo with 138 people failed to find a pro-social effect in people being “watched” by the eyes of a poster. 7 Wear red to attract a mate: Several studies have reported that men rate women wearing red as sexier and more attractive than women wearing other colors, something that scientists have spun into a “Just So Story” about how our primate ancestors advertised their sexual availability. But in a 2016 paper in Evolutionary Psychology scientists described three experi- ments with 800 young men (vs. two dozen in the original study) finding no such effect. Lesson: Even if there is a weak red effect, it’s a relatively unimportant influence on how we judge poten- tial partners—certainly long-term ones, but even one-night stands. It’s easy to become cynical about psychol- ogy, or at least the exciting results that the media pick up. The general point is not that the original, dubious claims are wrong. They might be—heck, they probably are—true for some peo- ple. Some of us likely do feel bolder in a power stance. Maybe believing that it can transform your life in a good way produces changes for the good that bring that about. For if there is one psychological effect that has stood the test of time, and countless replications, it is the placebo effect: that believing in the power of something can make it so. At least for some people, a little or a lot, in some circumstances some of the time. ● BE MORE FOCUSED AT WORK TRAIN YOUR BRAIN WITH CORPORATE MINDFULNESS FOR MORE CLARITY, BALANCE, AND JOY Five star rating on Amazon Order your copy now! bit.ly/imsorry-book Martin Ström (MSc, Lic Psychologist) is a director at Potential Project, the world’s top provider of corporate mindfulness. He has trained leaders and staff at companies such as Accenture, IKEA, and Microsoft and conducted one of the world’s first scientific studies on workplace mindfulness. “The impact of the practices in this book is truly profound.” Linda Nordin, Secretary General, United Nations Association June 2017 mindful 21