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Written by
Olivia Goldhill
October 10, 2015
Politicians' emotions can be just as persuasive as their arguments. (Reuters/ Jason Reed)
Written by
Olivia Goldhill
October 10, 2015

Even if you have all the facts, you may not convince others to agree with your argument. It’s frustrating, but according to Rob Yeung, a chartered psychologist and author of the recently published book How to Stand Out , it happens more than we would like. It turns out that the most effective strategy may be to use emotion, not logic, to make your case.

“If you think about most big topics, people are not persuaded by logic,” Yeung tells Quartz from London. “Most people in the Western world know that smoking cigarettes is bad for you and understand the principles of weight loss. But that’s not enough to motivate them to change. People do not listen to facts. You need an emotional angle.”

This theory is backed up by neuroscience: Researchers have found that patients who cannot process emotions also struggle to make decisions, suggesting that emotions play a key role in our decision-making abilities.

Yeung says that deciding which emotion to deploy in any given argument depends on the situation. Just remember, you have many options, so choose wisely. “Is it to get them angry about social injustice, is it to use humor to make them engage, is it about inspiring people and making them feel a sense of awe?” he says. “There’s lots of research showing that fear can be a motivating emotion but it has to be used properly.”

As an example of what not to do, Yeung cites former Nokia chief executive, Stephen Elop, who gave a speech to employees in 2011 in which he described a man standing on an oil platform that was on fire. He continued:

As the fire approached him, the man had mere seconds to react. He could stand on the platform, and inevitably be consumed by the burning flames. Or, he could plunge 30 meters in to the freezing waters. The man was standing upon a “burning platform,” and he needed to make a choice.

Elop warned his employees about the growing success of Apple and Android and said “our platform is burning,” but didn’t set out a clear escape route.

Yeung explains that using fear is ineffective as a motivator if can’t also offer a simple solution. Otherwise, “the solution may be so complex and frightening in itself that fear won’t motivate you into action.”

If fear isn’t an option, Yeung notes that both pride and shame are also very persuasive emotions. In 2007, researchers conducted field experiments on whether those two emotions would motivate voters to cast their ballot. Some voters were told that the names of all verified voters would be published in the local newspaper (pride treatment), while others were told that the names of all verified nonvoters would be published (shame treatment). On this occasion, researchers found that shame was more effective on average.

* also, sometimes to interact with. or be near.

** Funder calls his lessons "laws" somewhat tongue-in-cheek. the whole book is a treat, but if you're new to personality psych, i especially recommend chapters 1 through 7. felicity's professor at the university of new york used it, almost certainly because of it's engaging yet accurate prose.this is a very serious footnote, i am not kidding even a little bit. read it.

*** it is kind of like if your lab had to eat asparagus for six meals a week for several years, and then you realized you had several more years of compulsory asparagus-eating. (except our pee don't stink.)

**** 100% risk

***** true story: my undergrad thesis examined how sex-role identity interacts with gender to predict attitudes towards women... among high school students... in two different countries.... one of which is Samoa, a remote, non-English-speaking island in the middle of the South Pacific.

did someone say asparagus?

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Posted at 01:05 PM in scientific integrity | oversized pin crossbody bag Black Versus jaf0aFh3
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[DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in my posts are personal opinions, and they do not reflect the editorial policy of Social Psychological and Personality Science or its sponsoring associations, which are responsible for setting editorial policy for the journal.]


if you had told me five years ago that even one in twenty social/personality psych papers would provide links to their data and code, or to a pre-registration, i would have thought that would be huge progress.** i've long been a fan of the nudges that encourage these kinds of practices (e.g., badges), and until recently i thought going as far as to require this kind of transparency (even with room for legitimate exceptions) was probably unrealistic - our field didn't seem ready for that. i was sympathetic to the carrots-not-sticks approach.
but there's a problem with carrots-not-sticks. we're asking researchers to eat the carrots, but some of the carrots are pretty bitter. sometimes, when researchers are transparent, that brings information to light that undermines their claims, and readers don't buy the claims. that's a necessary side effect of transparency. and it means we can't in good faith tell researchers that transparency is always in their best interest and will be its own reward. we can't lure people with carrots, and pretend all of the carrots are delicious and fun to eat. sometimes carrots are hard to swallow.
i think it's time to admit that the main argument for transparency isn't self-interest - it's that transparency is just better for science.***
imagine the following scenarios:
scenario 1: you get a paper to review, and the authors have shared their data and code. you look at the data and realize there is a coding error, or something else that makes the results uninterpretable (i.e., suggests the study needs to be re-run to fix the error). you point this out in your review, the editor agrees and rejects the manuscript.
scenario 2: you get a paper to review, and the authors have shared a link to their pre-registration. by comparing the manuscript and the pre-registration you realize that the analysis that the authors present as their planned analysis, and interpret the p-value for, is not actually the one they had specified a priori as their key planned analysis. knowing this, you can tell that the claims in the paper are not supported by the evidence. the editor agrees and rejects the manuscript.
scenarios 1 and 2 seem pretty straightforward. but now consider scenarios 3 and 4:
scenario 3: you get a paper to review and the authors do not provide their data and code, but there is no sign of anything wrong.
scenario 4: you get a paper to review and the authors did not preregister their study, but they claim that the key result they present was their planned analysis, and interpret the p-value as if it was the only test they ran.
what should you do in scenarios 3 and 4?
one option, and i think the way most of us have been operating, is to assume that the data have no anomalies, and the key analysis was indeed the one planned test that was run. but is this fair to the authors in scenarios 1 and 2? in scenarios 3 and 4, we're giving the authors the benefit of the doubt because they didn't let us verify their claims. in scenarios 1 and 2 we're punishing them because they did let us verify their claims, and we learned that their claims were not justified.
but what else could we do in scenarios 3 and 4? assume that their studies had the same flaws as the studies in scenarios 1 and 2? that doesn't seem fair to the authors in scenarios 3 and 4.
when some authors choose to be transparent, we have no choice but to use the extra information they give us to assess the rigor of their study and the credibility of their claims. but that also puts us in an impossible position with respect to the manuscripts in which authors are not transparent. we can't assume these non-transparent studies have flaws, and we can't assume they don't.
it seems to me the only fair thing to do is to make transparency the default.**** whenever possible, authors should be expected to share the data and code necessary to reproduce their results unless that's legally or ethically problematic. and if authors claim that their key analysis was planned (i.e., if they're saying they're doing hypothesis testing and/or interpreting a p-value), we should ask that they document this plan (i.e., pre-register), or present their work as exploratory and their conclusions as less sure. it's just not fair to let some authors say "trust me" when other authors are willing to say "check for yourself."
i know that's not the world we live in, and as long as transparency is not the default, we have to treat papers like those in scenarios 3 and 4 somewhere in the gray area between flawless and deeply flawed. but my heart really goes out to the authors in scenarios like 1 and 2. it would be completely rational for those authors to feel like they are paying too high a price for transparency. (i've tried to make the case that there is a silver lining - their transparency makes the review process more fruitful for them, because it allows reviewers and editors to pinpoint specific ways they could improve their work which wouldn't have been possible without their openness. but i'm sure that's not much consolation if they see papers like those in scenarios 3 and 4 getting published over theirs.)
my sense is that many people are getting on board with the credibility revolution, but only so long as all of the incentives are carrots, and not sticks. as long as we can choose which carrots we want to go for, and not be punished if we don't eat our veggies, everyone is happy. but that won't work in the long run. it was perhaps a necessary step on the way to more widespread changes, but i think we need to start seriously considering making carrot-eating the default (also known as using sticks). i can't think of how to make the current opt-in system we have fair. if you can, i'd love to hear it.
* for more on problematic carrot-eating, see by james heathers.
** in honor of the finding that two spaces after periods is the morally superior formatting , i am compensating for years of being bullied into one space by using three paces. (yes, i'm aware of the shakiness of the evidence but i never let that get in the way of a good footnote.) #iwantmyspacesback
*** i don't mean that everything should always be transparent, and i don't know anyone who believes that. i mean that things that can legally and ethically be made transparent usually should be. **** this seems like a good time to remind readers that i do not set policy for any journals, and i am conscious of the difference between my personal fantasies and the realities of editorial responsibility (as tempting as it is to use my vast editorial powers to force everyone to put five spaces between sentences).*****
***** editorial abuses of power is a topic for another blog post. #bringonthelawsuits
mmmm carrots

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Posted at 09:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

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i've been thinking a lot about what it means to be a scientist. being a scientist comes with certain obligations, and ignoring those obligations can give science a bad name. it seems to me we could do more to make scientists aware of this responsibility when they decide whether or not to join the profession.

by Nick Summers — in Design Dev


Design is paramount to the success of any new or developing startup. While the original idea and core functionality should always take precedence, there’s a growing demand for attractive services that offer a beautiful user experience.

Dribbble is one of the most reputable and discussed online communities for designers and illustrators at the moment. The service has managed to encapsulate some of the most abstract and compelling parts of the creative process, such as finding new sources of inspiration, requesting feedback from fellow designers and taking a sneaky peek at peers’ upcoming projects.

The concept behind Dribbble isn’t a new one though. DeviantART was founded in 2000 and now boasts one of the largest online social networks for artists and art enthusiasts. Behance , meanwhile, was set up in 2006 as a single destination for creative professionals to upload and promote their work.

Dribbble appears quieter in its ambitions, yet already commands a far greater influence on the international design scene. While its growth appears to have erupted from nowhere, the reality is that some carefully planned elements and features have been brought together to make it the knock-out success story known today.

Let’s shoot some hoops

To an outsider, basketball and graphic design have little in common. The former usually takes place outside or on a polished indoor court, involves heaps of physical exercise and is broadcast on TV to millions of fans both in the United States and abroad.

The latter, meanwhile, often requires sitting at a desk, with paper and various art materials, or spending hours in front of a Macintosh computer with a copy of Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop humming in the background. It’s not a spectator sport – not until the project is finished anyway – and doesn’t command a dedicated section in the New York Times every day.

Yet Dribbble is all about basketball. New images are called ‘shots’, groups of images are called ‘buckets’ and recent uploads are known as ‘debuts’. In the world of Dribbble, retweets and reblogs don’t exist. Instead they’re called ‘rebounds’, which the user accumulates until they hit the ‘playoffs’ – a trending section for only the most popular projects.

“The name Dribbble came about from the dual metaphors of bouncing ideas and leaking your work,” Dan Cederholm, co-founder of Dribbble says. “We added an extra ‘b’ because that domain name was available. Early on, there wasn’t an intention to make it the sports metaphor so ingrained, but as we were creating the experience, things started falling into place. Many of the terms from the basketball world just worked.”

The verbiage is a consistent reference to the name of the platform and the company’s pink basketball logo. It’s also incredibly charming and means that the product is memorable for new and prospective users. The unintended – or perhaps intended – side-effect of this widespread branding is that Dribbble is very easy to talk about.

Quality, above all else

I can remember, in fairly vivid detail, the first time I was told about Dribbble. One of my housemates at university was a graphic designer and was hooked by the idea of becoming a ‘player’ on the service. (That’s not to say he was a hit with the ladies by the way, it’s just the term given to Dribbble’s users.)

It was a few years ago now and at the time, the service was still invite-only. A limited number of invites were randomly assigned to users, controlling the number of designers that were ‘prospects’ and ‘players’.

Dribbble quickly became the web-equivalent of a college basketball team. Everyone wanted to be involved. It was a trendy place to be seen. The platform appeared to be accepting only the very best designers and with it came a sense of status and respect.

The exposure and hype surrounding the service quickly grew and despite Dribbble’s relatively low userbase, the number of people interested in the site grew exponentially.

“The primary reason for invitations was to keep us sane while we were balancing Dribbble along with full-time jobs,” Cederholm adds. “We were fortunate to have a lot of momentum right out of the gate, but until revenue was a point to allow us to focus on Dribbble only, the invitations ensured we could scale this thing gracefully while worrying about other things. Like making a living!”

Dribbble has become a little more open since then, although registering a new account still requires secondary approval. It doesn’t really matter though, as the initial roll-out has already solidified Dribbble’s reputation as an incredibly high-quality platform, home to only the most talented and interesting designers.

A viewing experience like no other

Pinterest, a social network that allows users to share their favorite images with ‘pins’, has grown in popularity because it successfully emulates the glossy print magazines that already cover the fashion and interior design industries.

Graphic design is a similar space. For so-long, magazines such as Creative Review and thick, dedicated hardback books have dominated coffee tables and the desks of design agencies. It was one of the few places that creatives could draw inspiration from and created an exceptionally high standard for design-based publications.

Dribbble, just like Pinterest, has effectively replaced this medium by presenting incredibly high-quality design projects with a simple, yet attractive interface. The site’s color palette is predominantly grey and black, with the occasional pink highlight thrown in to reference the company logo. The projects themselves take center stage with ample space given to comments and the relevant number of likes, shares and views on the shot page.

There’s even a small space for the various colors used in the project, so fellow designers can replicate the exact shade and hue in their own work.

Clicking on the file link also produces an attachment page, stripping away almost all of the traditional Dribbble interface, save for a small sidebar with all but the most basic information. Flickr adopts a similar layout when the user asks to see a photograph in all available sizes, and in Dribbble’s execution it’s near-flawless.

“The priority has always been, first and foremost, to feature the work and the designer,” Cederholm explains. “We’ve intentionally kept the UI agnostic (monochrome, Helvetica type, simple glyphs) so that the variety of work being shared takes the spotlight and isn’t overshadowed by Dribbble’s brand.

“Over time, many of the features we’ve added have been a direct reaction to how the community chose to use the site. Rebounds, for instance, were being done by members simply linking their shot in the comments. We noticed that and built a UI around that to support what was going on.”

Free of all distractions, Dribbble ensures that players’ work always looks its very best. The end result is a platform that is simply gorgeous to explore and encourages further engagement from its users.

Working oh so hard for the money

Times are tough. Many Western markets are still in the middle of a recession, applying financial pressure to small, medium and large businesses alike. Design agencies are looking to run their company with the smallest number of staff possible, while clients are trying to commission new work at increasingly lower rates.

As a result graphic designers, especially freelancers, are always looking for new work. More clients means more opportunities to earn a livelihood. It’s simple math.

Dribbble has therefore been wise to create its own jobs board, which any user can access to find new employment. It’s just a database of links that point to other listings, but it works at a basic level and has become a reliable source of business for creatives.

“When Dribbble started, we didn’t have a job board, but we sold our own ads on the site,” Cederholm says. “Companies started advertising jobs in our banner rotations. Others posted shots that advertised open positions. Pretty quickly, we realized we needed a dedicated space for hirers to advertise to the amazing talent that hangs out at Dribbble every day.

“A ton of scouting and hiring happens on Dribbble, and the more tools we can provide to both designers looking for work, and companies looking for talent, the better.”

Design has never been so important

The standards for what is deemed to be good design will only increase over time. It’s part of the reason why Apple’s recent unveiling of 7 caused such a stir from the community.

Dribbble has the potential to be the center of that change, providing designers with a platform where they can improve their work and eventually be picked up by the next big startup.

Users are already developing variations on the the new interface and apps being offered with iOS 7 – in some cases even improving upon them – which only helps to highlight the quality of the work being uploaded to the platform.

“The difference now is that people are (rightly) paying more attention to it, and they’re realizing that it’s crucial,” Cederholm says. “We’ve seen large companies invest in design because they know the user experience makes all the difference in the success of a product.

“It’s an exciting time to be a designer. We’re also seeing more ‘designer founded’ startups, where design is at the forefront of the product and how it’s conceived. This is also important, as design is not an afterthought of ‘now make it pretty’, but part of the thinking and conception of a good idea. Successful companies get this. And it’s why the business world in general is now investing in design more than ever.”

What’s next for Dribbble?

Dribbble has carved out an enviable niche for itself as the de facto online platform for sharing and discovering breakthrough design work. The company is now working on a new feature, called Teams, which will allow organizations to collate designers’ profiles and post their work to a joint page, as well as their own profiles.

“Teams can also advertise jobs on their profiles as well,” Cederholm reveals. “Again, this is a feature born out of observing how people are using Dribbble. Companies were creating accounts, but they were separated from the individual designers that were also on Dribbble sharing their work.”

He adds: “We think Teams will increased exposure from their talent and vice versa. It’s coming soon, and we’re really excited about it.”

Teams seems like a logical step towards monetizing Dribbble and increasing its relevancy for larger companies. Regardless of what it does next though, the platform is unlikely to lost its status as the go-to community for professional design work. It’s already proven itself as a slam dunk, if you’ll excuse the pun.

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The mark consists of a long thin rectangle with a red square forming the left quarter with a white stylized capital letter 'N' appearing in the center of the square, the rest of the rectangle is white with the word "narratively" appearing in gray lowercase letters in the center.
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