Morality is contextual not absolute

People like to think they have a sense of right or wrong. And they do, according to research from the University of Oregon. However that moral sense, they find, is highly contextual—in other words humans find one thing wrong when they are in one job—say an engineer or a lawyer—and morally OK when the same person is a CEO or a managing partner.… [read more]

Imitation is as important as innovation

We are ever more frequently called into organizations to help them create a culture of innovation. Over the last few months these have included a major bank, a retirement home operator and a leading law firm. Innovation is important to survival for firms and corporations fighting to survive in today’s highly competitive environment.… [read more]

Male and female leader’s mistakes viewed differently

A fascinating study published in the current edition of the Journal of Business and Psychology shows that subordinates view mistakes made by male leaders differently from those made by their female counterparts. Male leaders who make mistakes are viewed as less competent than women who make the same mistakes.… [read more]

Willful blindness

A brilliant article in the latest Ivy Business Review looks at the phenomenon of willful blindness on the part of leaders. The author says powerful people—top CEOs, political leaders and like–operate in a ‘bubble of power’ which distorts their moral compass and puts them totally out of touch with reality.… [read more]

Anecdotes trump facts

And if you wanted more evidence that decisions are not based on reason there’s a nice piece in the latest Psychological Science. For some time it has been known that the annual PSA tests for prostate cancer are a waste of time.… [read more]

Good decision making: skill or luck?

A wonderful piece in the latest (May) edition of the Chicago University Business School’s Capital Ideas throws more cold water on the idea that good decision-making has anything to do with reason. The author looks at mutual fund managers’ records at stock picking and concludes that a dart board approach would be just as effective, and much less expensive.… [read more]

Randomized workplace inspections reduce costs & save lives

Contrary to conventional wisdom, random workplace inspections by government inspectors do not reduce productivity or profit according to a study in the May 18 edition of Science. The study by Harvard researchers found, to the contrary, that inspected companies actually saved through a reduction in the accident rate and savings on medical and insurance costs.… [read more]

Suspicion can lead to bad negotiating

Further proof of the power of the amygdala comes in research published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The research showed that suspicion comes from two areas of the brain—the amygdala (the fear center) and the parahippocampal gyrus (part of the brain’s main memory circuit).… [read more]

Born to Tweet

It would seem from research published today that the heavy use of smartphones and other electronic communication devices is partly genetic. In other words the use of these devices ties into latent genes that were originally used for other purposes. The research also shows that heavy users of electronic communication devices are also somewhat less intelligent than light users.… [read more]

The brains of psychopaths are different

A study of fortune 500 CEOs a few years ago found that 15% of them were certifiable psychopaths. Research published in the Archives of General Psychiatry shows for the first time the fact that the brains of psychopaths are structurally different from those of other people.… [read more]