Embracing Non-Conformity: How To Make Effective Decisions

Whilst we all like to think that we are free thinking individuals, the truth is that social influence is a powerful force in nature and society. There are many advantages to us being social beings – learning from others, pooling our resources, increasing our defences – but research has shown that there are also disadvantages. We have evolved to become overly influenced by our neighbours rather than relying on our own instinct.

It has been shown that imitating the actions and opinions of others rather than trusting our own thoughts can lead to increased danger. In a study analysing the behaviour of 365 people at a busy crossing in Leeds, Faria et al (2010) revealed that people are twice as likely to cross a busy road if the person next to them sets off first – and that men are more likely to follow other pedestrians than women. Continue reading Embracing Non-Conformity: How To Make Effective Decisions

Brexit and Workplace Mental Health

As we enter this new and unknown post-Brexit landscape, now is the time more then ever for employers to invest in their staff’s mental wellbeing.

The last few weeks have created a seismic shift in British politics, leading to political uncertainty and tension, which for many people have led to personal concerns about financial and job security.

And it isn’t just this shifting landscape that has caused tension in the workplace; the tension was evident even before the result of the referendum was known. You could feel it on social media: friends taking different sides and arguing and persuading from different perspectives. Take that hostility and mix it up with us being hurled into the unknown with what feels like a total absence of leadership, vision or even a plan and you can see how this can impact on our wellbeing and our workplace relationships.

Continue reading Brexit and Workplace Mental Health

Starting The Year Afresh – Three Top Tips For Creating New Habits

newyearHow many of us begin the New Year with a steely determination that this year we will achieve our New Year’s resolution – we will: give-up smoking/eat more healthily/spend more time with friends/try new things/exercise more etc. etc. Only for our resolve to fade away at about the same time as we finish eating the cold turkey. But not this year – this year will be different. This year you will be equipped with the additional information on the 3 key principles to building new habits.

Habits form through constant repetition – they are automatic behaviours. Researchers have identified 3 key principles that can help us to change habitual behaviour (see for example Neal et al 2011) these three top tips are:

  1. Derail existing habits

Big bold changes such as a change in job, a new home, or a move to a new city are perfect for disrupting your old habits and creating new ones. Of course we can’t all make these big changes just to help us achieve our New Year resolutions, but the principles are the same. If you want to create new habits we have to disrupt old cues. For example, if your goal is to eat more healthily, move the family supply of biscuits away from its usual location and put it somewhere else. That way you will have to actively think about getting a biscuit rather than reaching out in a more automatic, habitual way.

  1. Repetition is key

It takes on average about 66 days to create a new habit (1), for some people it is much longer and for other people it is shorter – but the only way that you can create a new habit is through repetition. Give yourself enough time to create your habit – don’t expect it to be easy, and don’t expect it to happen overnight.

  1. Create stable cues

Create a context in which your new habit is triggered. So for example, if your resolution is to exercise more, create a regular day during the week when this happens – ‘Tuesday night is exercise night’, if you want to start flossing your teeth, link it to brushing your teeth – the cue is brushing your teeth. If you want to eat more fruit link it to your lunch or to your dinner. By creating stable cues you create an environment for the new behaviours to form.

Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and positive 2015

 

References

  • Lally, P., van Jaarsveld, C.H.M., Potts, H.W.W., Wardle, J., (2010) How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. European School of Social Psychology 40:6 998-1009
  • (1) Neal, D.T., Wood, W., Wu, M., Kurlander, D., (2011) The pull of the past: When do habits persist despite conflict with motives? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 37: 1428