I came across this sort of goofy article about how people’s personalities shift depending on where they live. Why do I call it goofy? Because insofar as “personality” refers to stable characteristics of an individual, it shouldn’t be especially mutable based on location. But what the article does capture is that the environment we live in goes a long way toward determining how we express those personality traits through behavior. Continue reading Where You Are Is Who You Are: Personality By Geography
About a year ago I participated in a work training around collaboration and culture. We were asked to play a game which involved getting into a pair with someone else around the same height, clasping hands, and attempting to make contact with the partner’s shoulder. The objectives of the game were described as “to win” by “getting more points.” It was not clear exactly who needed to earn those points; that’s where the trouble started.
Continue reading Why Do We Sometimes Compete When We Should Collaborate?
A challenge for public health educators and behavior change experts is helping people who have low levels of health literacy. These people may have difficulty with written communication, understanding medication instructions, or how to care for a chronic condition. Low health literacy is incredibly common, with some groups estimating that as many as 88% of American adults struggle with some aspect of health literacy. Continue reading How Polly Combats Low Health Literacy With Humor and Technology
Certain identities are deeply meaningful for the time and the place in which we live. Being a woman in the 21st century United States carries expectations that were not shared by women in 17th century China and will not be by women in 24th century Argentina. And a woman in the 21st century United States may also be a scientist, police officer, or soldier; she might belong to any racial or ethnic background; she might belong to multiple different cultures; and so forth and so on. So what, you ask? Continue reading Being Both: The Psychology of Identity Integration
I came of age in the time of the tech bubble. I graduated college in the middle of the dot-com crash, and my professional career has coincided with the rise of the modern startup (and lately, the somewhat odd concept of the unicorn, or the startup company valued at $1 billion or higher. There are at least 131 of them.). In my opinion, the working world has changed quite a bit since many of the foundational theories about how organizations function were developed. Do they still work to describe the modern corporate world? Continue reading Can Traditional Organizational Culture Models Describe the Modern Working World?
One of the many ways that people around the world differ from one another is attitudes about choice. While some cultures believe that independent choice is the ideal, others prefer to delegate important choices to specific people or interpret events as a sign of fate or luck. In The Art of Choosing, Sheena Iyengar suggests that cultural narratives around choice–whether it is good to have it or not, how much people want, and what one should do with it–can help promote understanding in others. She writes, Continue reading Choice: The Cultural Keystone?
If you remember the male makeover hit of the early 2000s, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, you’ve heard the song that says “All things just keep getting better.” While this is not generally true (three words for you: fish, tuberculosis, taxes), it actually does seem to have some merit in describing a whole bunch of stuff going on in the world right now. Among the dimensions that have been improving in the past few decades are: Continue reading Some Things Keep Getting Better, But Our Mood Isn’t One of Them
One of my favorite things to do when I travel to a new country is hit a grocery store and check out the products. I love seeing the variations on items between home and abroad. The first time I saw eggs stored on a room temperature shelf instead of a refrigerator case, my mind was blown. Call me weird if you like, but it’s a cheap thrill that I’ll always take. Continue reading Veggies in the Front: Environmental Guardrails for Healthy Eating
I recently found myself flying from Stockholm to London on British Airways. Looking to pass a few minutes before landing, I flipped open one of the in-flight magazines, Business Life. I was delighted to stumble on an article called “The Art of Speaking American.” For all of my fascination with how other cultures‘ languages and vocabularies shape their experience, now I had a chance to see how other cultures view me. Continue reading Flipping the Cultural Lens: A European Take on Americans
In the abstract, I’d advise against traveling down an Internet rabbit hole. You know the situation: You start reading an interesting story, and you see a link to another site midway through that sounds interesting. You click the link and open it in a new tab. Now you’re browsing back and forth between two tabs, and then you open a third interesting link. Before you know it, thirty minutes have passed and you’re on a website that is completely unrelated to your original task. Continue reading Nemawashi: A Japanese Management Style for the Modern American Worker