Working alone might be the key that enhances productivity says a new study. Colleagues could slow down your perfomance, even if their work is not related with yours.
The study, led by University of Calgary, Faculty of Kinesiology researcher Dr. Tim Welsh, stated that regardless of people's intentions, having an individual working on a different task, within your field of vision is enough to slow down your performance.
"Imagine a situation like a complex assembly line. If you are doing a particular task and the person across from you is doing a different task, you'll be slowed down regardless of their performance," said Welsh.
The reason for this lies in a built-in response-interpretation mechanism that is hard-wired into our central nervous systems. If we see someone performing a task we automatically imagine ourselves performing that task. This behaviour is part of our mirror neuron system.
In the study, Welsh's set-up involved an individual performing a simple computer task alone, then with a partner performing a different but related task, and alone again after being told that the partner was going to continue to perform the task in another room.
"When an individual could see their partner actually performing the task, the partner's performance interfered with their own performance, causing them to perform more slowly," Welsh said.
"When the partner left the room and the individual could only see the results of the partner's action - not the action itself - the interference effect was no longer observed and performance improved. We believe it's because the individual no longer represented - or modeled - their partners' actions, even though they could see the results of these actions," he added.
Welsh said that his research could have implications for some industrial work settings.
"In a situation where speed and accuracy in performing a certain task are important, I think an argument could be made for a work setting in which people work in isolation - or at least with people who doing very similar tasks. That will remove the involuntary modeling of another's behaviour, potentially improving speed and likely accuracy," he said.
The study "Seeing vs. believing: Is believing sufficient to activate the processes of response co-representation?" is published in the Journal of Human Movement Science.
Exposure to racial bias in the media can prejudice the viewers without them realizing it, says a new study.
The study, led by Dana Mastro of the University of Arizona, exposed participants to television clips where Latinos were portrayed in both flattering and unflattering ways
In the study, first by using a simulated television script, Latinos were presented in a variety of roles which differed in terms of the degree of intelligence and educational attainment associated with the main character.
Next, additional participants were exposed to actual television programming, providing a more valid television viewing experience.
Although the simulated scripts offered greater control, viewing actual programming more closely reproduced an authentic television encounter.
Exposure to stereotypes produced unfavorable effects on the viewers. When the target character was white, no association was made between racial identification and evaluations of the character.
However, with relative consistency, when the target character was Latino, as viewer racial identification increased, perceptions of the character's education and qualifications decreased.
The finding indicates that stereotype-based processing may occur based on media exposure, even when at a conscious level people try to dismiss what they are seeing as harmless. Indeed, TV images not only affected what the viewers thought about minorities, but also led to an us-versus-them mentality.
"Just as people can develop their views about others through dialogue and interaction with others in society, the same types of outcomes can emerge based simply on watching television," Mastro said.
"The quality of the images presented on television carries a consequence. Ultimately, even fictional TV content can perpetuate stereotypes which may promote real-world discrimination," Mastro added.