Getting the Most Mileage from Your Mental Fuel

Years ago, I heard the metaphor, mental fuel, used to refer to attention. I found it appropriate because like gas tanks, our cognitive thought processes hold a limited amount of fuel, and we can determine how quickly we use the fuel, depending on our driving habits. Research has proven that

  • we can determine which mental tasks receive the most fuel (attention)
  • rehearsed or learned tasks will require less fuel resources (attention).

Research has not confirmed, although highly speculative, multiple tasks can be performed in parallel versus flipping back-and-forth between tasks, and some tasks require a consistent amount of attention, regardless of the situation or other tasks involved (Willingham, 2007).

What about driving and talking? The question remains does our attention flip flop, yet go unnoticed, especially with experienced drivers? Probably so, since the experienced driver may not be giving 100% of their attention to either task. Don’t forget, memory also plays a part. We have practiced certain scripts to the point they no longer present much cognitive load (mental strain).

Research in the mid-1990’s demonstrated that auditory and visual tasks were interlinked and that one could not be compromised without affecting the other. Nevertheless, it was found that two auditory tasks caused more interference than an auditory and visual task. Perhaps, this helps explain why we can drive down a familiar road and chat with a friend, but incessantly get frustrated when talking on the phone, while someone is asking questions in our other ear! Remember, differences attract, and likenesses repel, or at least for attention mileage.

~ Dr. Michelle Doscher

For more information on cognitive processes, check out Daniel Willingham, along with Willingham, D. B. (2001). Cognition: The thinking animal. New York: Prentice Hall. 2nd edition (2004). 3rd edition (2007).

Transparency, Good or Bad?

Human behavior is unique, so generalizing veracity cues is erroneous, if knowing the difference between truth and fiction is important. Think of a few instances when you would want to know the truth. Job interview? First date? Reading of a will? You get the idea…

foxnews.com

Unlike jellyfish, humans do not clone themselves, but our words can sting. What we say and do are unique. Our verbal and nonverbal communication skills cannot be duplicated. Humans are one-of-a-kind communicators. We also like short-cuts. Not only were our brains created to process and store large amounts of information but also to retrieve information about the past, present, and future! Yes, the future. Speculation is the result of gathering past information to predict a future situation.

I say this jokingly, but I think my brain is constantly saying “Keep it simple, stupid.” (K.I.S.S.) I will admit, there have been days when brain overload seemed imminent. Cognitive load (brain stress) occurs, because of mental conflict, a mass input of information, or new and different surroundings, to name a few. As I mentioned before, our brain likes to take short-cuts, and our brain also likes to avoid cognitive load. The result is sometimes deceptive or incomplete answers. For example, what is the best way to avoid conflict? Answer: Don’t mention details that would initiate or result in conflict. This is also known as omission. What if you need to be convincing to save face or prevent someone’s feelings from getting hurt? Answer: Fabricate a convincing scenario based on the truth, or simply embellish the truth a bit.

Although I am not encouraging deceptive practices, white lies do sometimes serve a purpose. But what if knowing the TRUTH is paramount? Then do not seek to identify universal lie detection cues. Although many people exhibit similar behavioral traits, these cues do not always represent the same trait in each person. For more information on indirect methods to quantitative deception detection, visit https://MindSleuth.us Transparency may disclose information that should be kept secret, or disclose valuable information for the greater good. Either way, a noninvasive indirect method now exists allowing a glimpse into the mind’s cognitive processing.

Stay true to yourself!

~Dr. Doscher

Mothers Who Murder Their Children

Mothers murder their children for many reasons, which typically fall into one of three classes: accidental, purposeful, and abuse-related filicide. Research points to differences between maternal behavioral characteristics when committing neonaticide and filicide.

  • neonaticide (children less than 24 hours old). Limited statistics exists for neonaticides, since many go unreported. The majority of the mothers are young and unmarried. Their self-image appears to be important and the homicides result to save face and social status.
  • infanticide (children less than one year old) There is a clear distinction between mothers who commit neonaticide vs infanticide. Michelle Oberman, law professor/author suggests reviewing societal norms which may be causing undo stress to mothers or harm to children. Infanticide is not random and is not committed by only the mentally ill.
  • filicide (children 18 years and younger). The U.S. statistics are the highest for infanticide followed by pre-school and school-age children. 30%-45% percent of parents committing filicide commit suicide.

The following are 5 recurring motives for maternal filicide based on Phillip Resnick’s worldwide review of psychiatric research: (Altruistic)-These mothers feel they are protecting their children from worse harm. (Psychotic)-Psychotic or delirious mothers have no motive other than reacting to hallucinations. (Fatal maltreatment)-These mothers’ intentions are usually not homicide, but residual effects of years of abuse and neglect or Munchausen syndrome by proxy are often culprits. (Unwanted child)-The child is seen as a hindrance or burden. Lastly, (Spouse revenge)-Although rare, the mother kills the child to torture the child’s father or seek revenge.

The following podcast was taped by death investigator Darren Dake of Coroner Talk™ with myself, discussing the psychology of mom’s who kill.

 

How Does Color Affect Our Mood?

Companies around the world research the best colors for their logos. Google tested 40 shades of blue before deciding which blue to use in their logo. The psychology of color plays a role in most of these decisions, such as red signifies warmth, passion, and sales! Blue is calming and trustworthy, while green signifies health. Chanel, coined “the little black dress” and continues to use black in their logo symbolizing classic and sophisticated designs.

We see images via the visual cortex portion of the brain. However, the retinal ganglion cells are the first responder neurons, sending signals to the hypothalamus, part of our brain’s limbic system. The hypothalamus helps maintain balance with our body’s internal environment (hunger, thirst, temperature, and sleep). It also triggers secretion of hormones that affect our mood, emotions, and need for reward. Here lies the key to how different wavelengths of color affect our mood.

Blue/green wavelengths, such as in morning light stimulate the hormone cortisol, which stimulates us to awaken. Therefore, it is hard to go to sleep after working on the computer for hours, unless you wear blue blocking glasses, such as EyeYee. I discovered this secret after experiencing many sleepless nights and eye strain while writing my dissertation. Keep in mind, too much cortisol released in our body causes stress and anxiety. (Could that be the reason why people tend to be more anxious after hours of computer gaming? Don’t go there! LOL.) Whereas, soft oranges/yellows in sunsets encourage melatonin production and help keep our sleep cycles on schedule; that why I recommend using warm lights in the bedroom to encourage restful sleep.

One Tokyo railway line installed blue lights at the end of their platforms and claimed they had a 74% reduction in suicide at these platforms. However, Nicholas Ciccone, PhD found inconclusive evidence regarding the effects of blue light on impulsivity. Correlations can be a bit misleading, but they do sell headlines! Two of the world’s largest restaurant food chains rely on color science for their marketing. McDonald’s has maintained their golden arches and red accents, while Subway adds a pop of yellow and green. Volkswagen maintains their image as “the car of the people” while encourage trustworthiness with the blue background in their logo.

As a researcher in interpersonal communications, I would love to hear your feedback regarding your choice of colors for clothes and possible effects on conversation.

Best to you all,

Dr. Michelle Doscher

Real Estate Tip #1: The Science of Showing Property

Most clients want to see multiple properties, despite forgetting the minute details of one property when going to the next. So, should you only show two or three properties? Preferably not, unless requested by your client.

Science is your friend; remember these statistics and become a top-selling agent!

Your client will remember…

90% of what they saw when they walk through the property with a listing sheet.
50% of what they saw when they discuss the details with someone.
30% of what they saw when you only show the listing on a website or listing sheet.
10% of what they learn when they’ve learned from reading an ad.
5% of what they learn when they’ve learned from listening to you!

Prior to showing property, email your clients the listing sheets and links to property websites of the properties they want to see, in addition to others similar in price, structure, and location. On the day of showings, have extra copies of the listing sheets when showing each property. Next, spend a few minutes discussing each property after viewing. Take the time to take notes on the listing sheets and encourage your client to do the same. After viewing all the preferred listings for that day, spend some time recapping the highlights of each listing.  This simple but effective process allows the brain to retrieve, process and encode information for easier recall.

So, what about order?  Group the properties and rank them according to your client’s needs and wants in a property.  The first few properties will be memorable because of the Primacy Effect and the last property will be most memorable due to the Recency Effect. Unfortunately, the middle listings will suffer the Intermediate Effect and possibly be lost in the shuffle, especially regarding specific details.  Obviously, your rankings will be based on your client’s feedback prior to showing the listings. By grouping properties, you can tweak the order of showings if necessary, based on your client’s most recent feedback during the showings.

The technique is simple. Show and tell them what you are going to show them. Show them what you told them you were going to show them. Lastly, Tell them again what you just showed them.  Sound familiar? Why reinvent the wheel, this memory technique has been around for ages?  Happy house hunting!

~ Michelle Doscher, PhD