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We often find things we want to pass along but about which we do not wish to write an entire blog post. Here’s another installment of things you really (maybe, kind of) want to know.?

So, who is trusted more? Scientists or the government??

You have probably heard about research on “nudges” (which is the idea that if people are given small informational “nudges” they are likely to modify their behavior). If you read the popular news telling us scientists are in so much credibility trouble—you will be surprised by this one. Scientists are seen as more credible than the government even when their “news” is outlandish. This research came out of large-scale samples in both the US and the UK.

Keep in mind that people have actually been convinced that this is accurate information. Go figure! Here’s a quote:

“The nudges were introduced either by a group of leading scientific experts or a government working group consisting of special interest groups and policy makers.

Some of the nudges were real and had been implemented, such as using catchy pictures in stairwells to encourage people to take the stairs, while others were fictitious and actually implausible like stirring coffee anti-clockwise for two minutes to avoid any cancerous effects.”

Being a good leader

Forbes has a nice article on how to be a good leader. It is an edited and condensed interview with Elizabeth W. Smith, the new president and CEO of the Central Park Conservancy. It’s a quick read and filled with insights you can use in your own office/practice. This is a continuation of an earlier talk with her and the story links back to the earlier discussion if you want to learn more.?

Remember the “nerd defense”? Apparently it works with salary offers too

The Economist is a serious publication that often has very intriguing (and well written) social science articles. Here they tell us in all seriousness that people who wear eyeglasses earn more money.?

The use of the death penalty in the United States

Here’s a recent report from Pew Research on how often the death penalty is actually used in those states that still have a death penalty law. Here’s a quote from that brief report:?

Overall, 31 states, the federal government and the U.S. military authorize the death penalty, while 19 states and the District of Columbia do not [snip]. But 11 of the states that allow executions – along with the federal government and the U.S. military – haven’t had one in at least a decade.

Yes, it’s especially hard to be accepted as a woman when you are also an attorney

The Atlantic often has pithy, well-written, informative articles on a variety of topics. This time, they took a look at the uphill challenges faced by female attorneys (and guess what, it’s written by a female attorney). This is likely a story you should not read first thing on a Monday morning. Here’s an excerpt from near the end:?

In 1820, Henry Brougham, a lawyer tasked with defending Queen Caroline before the House of Lords against allegations by her husband, King George IV, that she had committed adultery and should be stripped of her crown, explained his role this way: “An advocate, in the discharge of his duty, knows but one person in all the world, and that person is his client. To save that client by all means and expedients, and at all hazards and costs to other persons, and, among them, to himself, is his first and only duty.”

I’ve always loved that definition of a lawyer’s work and its description of the sacrifices we make for our clients. But in the courtroom, whether as an attorney or as an instructor, I’m constantly reminded that women lawyers don’t have access to the same “means and expedients” that men do. So I tell my female students the truth: that their body and demeanor will be under relentless scrutiny from every corner of the courtroom. That they will have to pay close attention to what they wear and how they speak and move. That they will have to find a way to metabolize these realities, because adhering to biased expectations and letting slights roll off their back may be the most effective way to advance the interests of their clients in courtrooms that so faithfully reflect the sexism of our society.


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We came across this study and thought it was a perfect example of how paying attention to gender balance in management can positively influence your corporate bottom line. And, this infographic summary communicates a LOT in a short period of time. So rather than writing it out for you, take a look at how one company has found out about the positive benefits of gender balance in management.?

We’ve written a lot about bias and the importance of maintaining an awareness of bias if you want to manage effectively. If you want to read more about Sodexo’s experience, take a look at the executive summary of their work on improving gender balance and how that decision resulted in positive impact on their bottom line.

Sodexo’s Gender Balance Study 2018: Expanded Outcomes Over 5 Years.


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The mental image many of us have of psychopaths is similar to the graphic illustrating this post. They are terrifying. “Terrifying” however is pretty vague and we need a more precise vocabulary to discuss what you see in a psychopath—that is, their core characteristics. Apparently, the more research that has been done on the psychopath, the more disagreement there is about which characteristics are “core to” or “define” the psychopath.

Here’s a study that helps to identify what the core characteristics are of the psychopath by comparing similarities and differences between psychopaths in the US and the Netherlands. In an interesting aside—the US sample is from Wisconsin. Wisconsin! Who knew there were psychopaths in Wisconsin??

Of course, you would know if you’ve been following our various posts on psychopaths here. This sample (with 7,450 criminal offenders) is the largest we’ve seen and there are differences between Dutch and US psychopaths—which begs the question: is culture tied to how psychopathy is expressed behaviorally? The authors do raise that question and you will likely smile and roll your eyes along with us when they say the question of cultural impact on psychopathic behavior “needs more research” (we’d bet some of the authors do not yet have tenure).?

Here is what the researchers did:?

The researchers examined the scores received on the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) which is the most widely used measure of psychopathy. And yes—they acknowledge that use of a single measurement could be an issue in the results reported. There is, however, an important difference between the two samples: the Dutch sample members were all “violent, mentally unwell offenders” while the US group (remember, it’s Wisconsin) were “general offenders from state prisons”. With this sample difference we’d expect to see an overall higher level of psychopathy in the Dutch sample and we do (28% in the Dutch sample compared to between 20% and 22% in the US sample).?

Here are the personality traits found to differ between the US and Dutch samples:

US: Psychopaths in this sample were most likely to show “callousness” and a “lack of empathy”.?

Netherlands: Psychopaths in this sample were also callous and lacking in empathy, but they had stronger indications of a “parasitic lifestyle” [i.e., finding others to support them financially] and “irresponsibility”.?

The researchers completed some additional analysis but again found that a “parasitic lifestyle” and “irresponsibility” most characterized the Dutch sample while the US sample was most characterized by “callousness” and a “lack of empathy”.?

There probably are differences between psychopaths in different countries. The PCL-R is a fairly difficult measure to master since it requires two trained raters with a fairly high degree of inter-rater reliability. This study used different raters who were all “experienced” or “trained” but there is no comparison of inter-rater reliability on the reviewers completing the PCL-R across these samples. They are also comparing “violent, mentally unwell offenders” in the Netherlands with “general offenders from state prisons” and it is possible those two groups of people are just different from each other.

Attorneys (along with?the rest of us) may find themselves having to work with—or for—someone who qualifies as a psychopath. If you are representing a psychopath (whether criminal or civil) we would suggest you (at minimum) read our blog posts on psychopaths, get paid up front, and do not respond to that well-known yet superficial charm so typical of many psychopaths who never reside in prison.?

Verschuere, B., van Ghesel Grothe, S., Waldorp, L., Watts, A. L., Lilienfeld, S. O., Edens, J. F., Noordhof, A. (2018). What features of psychopathy might be central? A network analysis of the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) in three large samples. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 127(1), 51-65.?


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We know you will be shocked by this but we are featuring two articles with opposite perspectives on Millennials as managers. One article offers support to the Millennial new to managing those who are (in some cases) the age of their parents. The second says Millennial managers cause “negative emotions” in the workplace (spurred on by the anger of their older subordinates).

It’s like the two positions we often hear on the internet—either a positive perspective advocating education and support for Millennials or a negative perspective that we don’t think really makes sense (and that is certainly not consistent with the empirical data). In the event you have not read our extensive writing on generations—here are links to our blog posts and here are links to full length articles that summarize the data rather than repeating anecdotes.

This is the new normal: Get used to it

The first article is published over at the Money CNN page and is a guide to helping the Millennial manager be successful. This younger boss/older employee is the new normal say the authors and they offer the following statistic to support their claim.

By 2020, Millennials will make up 35% of the global workforce, according to ManpowerGroup, a consulting firm.

Then they move on to saying the whole thing is a little awkward for both sides of the relationship at first but you just need to get over it (again, on both sides). Here are some of their hints for these “new normal” Millennial managers.

Focus on the unique experience each of you bring to the table and not on your generational differences.

Give flexibility to both younger and older employees so that if something happens in their personal lives, they can take care of it. (This gives the benefit of work/life balance to all employees.)

They also address the dynamic between Millennials and their younger supervisees (Generation Z for lack of a better label yet). They note the ability of younger employees to multitask but also point out the possibility of a lack of attention to detail and responsibility. All in all, the purpose of this article is to educate and help the Millennial manager succeed.

Millennial managers result in angry, fearful, and disgusted subordinates

The second article is based on research done in Germany (61 separate companies, mostly in the service industry, but also finance, manufacturing and trade) showing that roughly ? of the managers were Millennials. Their finding was that the larger the age gap between the young manager and the older subordinate—the more the subordinates reported negative emotions (like anger, fear, and even disgust) over the last six months. So are Millennial managers working in ways that promote “anger, fright and disgust” in their older subordinates?

The researchers call the age gap between younger manager and older subordinate a “status incongruence” and a “violation of career norms” with one summarizing blogger saying it is “like being lectured on your dress sense by your precocious 8-year-old nephew”. The researchers also report that companies whose employees experienced more negative emotions were also measurably less productive on all counts. They conclude that when you have younger managers with older subordinates you are going to have worse performance because younger managers result in older subordinates being resentful and frustrated due to the status incongruence and the violation of career norms.

The researchers found that if older subordinates “suppressed their emotions” when interacting with younger supervisors there was less negativity than in those workplaces where employees “expressed their emotions more freely”. The researchers note that these negative attitudes may be contributed to, at least in part, by the change to merit-based promotions rather than seniority-based promotions. In other words, older subordinates who have “put in their time” resent the younger managers who have received promotion based on merit.

From an office management perspective, this is not the fault of the Millennial manager but rather the problem of the resentful (“fearful, angry and disgusted”) older supervisee, and the problem expected in?an evolving workforce and culture. Both sides will have to accommodate these workplace changes. In truth, this is similar to the kinds of disruption and resentment that rising status of women and minority managers face, as well. More entrenched workers who are used to a now out-of-date corporate culture are going to feel marginalized. Benefiting from their experience and ability will require building a bridge to them, and encouraging them to cross over. Training and education in the workplace on the reasons for the change to a merit-based promotional system as well as training on how to work together regardless of your age and “time put in” can help older subordinates who are resentful about being passed over for promotional opportunities.

The sort of advice in the first article lifts up the Millennial manager rather than blaming them for the “fear, anger and disgust” the older subordinate may struggle with due to their own sense (according to these authors anyway) of having fallen behind as the workplace rules changed. Consulting with Millennial managers on ways they can sensitively broach this topic and use the skills and experiences brought to the table by their older subordinates while still pressing forward to new programs and projects would likely be beneficial to the entire enterprise.

Kunze, F Menges, JI 2017. Younger supervisors, older subordinates: An organizational-level study of age differences, emotions and performance. Journal of Organizational Behavior, Volume 38, Issue 4, Pages: 461–486.



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We’d really rather call this the “34 reasons you should get up and talk face-to-face rather than emailing or texting effect” but that’s probably why we’re not academics. It’s become habitual to email or text even when it is faster and perhaps easier to walk across the hall, over to another cubicle, or even take a quick ride up the elevator to speak to a colleague in person. But once you read the results of this study you may start moving around—especially when you really want someone you do not know to do something for you.

Today’s study is from researchers in Canada and the US and it’s all about our unreliable estimate of compliance by others when we make direct requests. The researchers call it the “underestimation of compliance effect” which we must admit is not particularly catchy. But the takeaway is pretty catchy for sure. Here it is:

Despite your belief that you are persuasive in emails to those you have not met, you are 34 times more persuasive in face-to-face communication.

34x you say? How can that be true? And how can they say that precise number (34x)? Apparently most of us overestimate our powers of persuasion in text and underestimate our powers of persuasion in person. The second author of this paper wrote up a plain language version of the paper for Harvard Business Review (and oddly, the summary is as long as the article itself). In the HBR piece, she offers a brief comment that explains the takeaway:

Imagine you need people to donate to a cause you care about. How do you get as many people as possible to donate? You could send an email to 200 of your friends, family members, and acquaintances. Or you could ask a few of the people you encounter in a typical day—face-to-face—to donate. Which method would mobilize more people for your cause?

Despite the reach of email, asking in person is the significantly more effective approach; you need to ask six people in person to equal the power of a 200-recipient email blast. Still, most people tend to think the email ask will be more effective.

So why does this happen? The researchers say that people you do not know are suspicious of links in emails (they were being asked to have strangers complete a survey which was housed online) and think you are untrustworthy. Conversely, the sender (that would be you) knew they were not trying to trick the recipient and that the URL was trustworthy. The sender simply failed to consider the recipients perspective (i.e., someone I don’t know wants me to click on an untrustworthy link).

The researchers did a second study where they found that “nonverbal cues requesters conveyed during a face-to-face interaction” made the difference in how legitimate the recipient thought they were—yet, the requester was oblivious to these cues.

From an office management (not to mention effectiveness) perspective, you may want to encourage communications between co-workers—even if they don’t know each other—to occur in a face-to-face interaction rather than in a text-based communication. When the person you are encouraging to discuss the issue in person rolls their eyes and considers you hopelessly “old school”, you can just whip out this study (or the article in Harvard Business Review) and let them know you are on top of new knowledge. They can get up and move and talk face-to-face—not because it’s “nice”, but because it works 34x better.

Roghanizad, MM Bohns, VK 2017 Ask in person: You’re less persuasive than you think over email. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 69, 223-226.


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