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Every year, it seems that the “experts” say that there is a new normal. Things are different this time. The world has fundamentally changed. But there is one thing that hasn’t changed. The increasing velocity of change. Eric McNulty has a good summary of what I mean in a recent Strategy+Business.
From regular triple-digits swings in the market to the rapid rise of often profit-free unicorns valued at US$1 billion or more, a possible exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, the devolution of the once-hopeful Arab Spring into the chaos of the Syrian civil war, and turmoil from Libya to the Ukraine, this isn’t just a VUCA world anymore; it’s becoming ever more VUCA.
This study in Brain came from a team from the UK and Spain. They are studying the link between risk preference and the nucleus accumbens (NAcc). Even given the limitations in associating brain activity and human behavior that I acknowledged above, there is reasonable evidence that the NAcc is linked to risk preference. This study is remarkable in that they did a controlled study and the participants were blind to the intervention. This is rare in neuropsych studies where confounds and mediators are hard to control for.
Short-lived phasic electrical stimulation of the region of the nucleus accumbens dynamically altered risk behaviour, transiently shifting the psychometric function towards more risky decisions only for the duration of stimulation. A critical, on-line role of human nucleus accumbens in dynamic risk control is thereby established.
In the June issue of Industrial Hygiene and Safety News there is an editorial that presents an interesting confluence of personality, cognition, and safety. This is a special issue on the oil and gas industry and the editorial focuses on the culture of the shale oil industry, which is a remarkable parallel to the gold rush of yore (as well as the real estate boom of the 2000s, but I am still too sensitive about that one to talk about it).
In September, 2014, The Atlantic magazine published a lengthy piece on the Bakken and “the sacrifices Americans endure to find decent work.” It’s the same old story. Mostly young, restless, dissatisfied individuals take stock of their situation and make personal risk assessments.
On today’s episode of NPR’s show The Takeaway, there was an interview of a doctor who had just come back from Liberia where he had been volunteering to help with the Ebola crisis. He had followed all of the precautions, had no symptoms, and had no worries that he was at risk. But his friends were all staying away. At least for 21 days.
After more than a month working in an Ebola treatment unit in Bong County, Liberia, Dr. Levine has come home to the United States. Dr. Levine says that he’s not too worried, but he is frustrated with the Ebola hysteria in the United States. He says that eradicating Ebola worldwide starts with increasing the focus in the worst hit areas of West Africa…
Previous research has found that after participants choose an aesthetically pleasing design, they become more open to uncertainty. The hypothesis is that high aesthetic products have an innate value that gives you the same positive feeling that self-affirmation does. But, this is not practical in the field. So this study wanted to find a more practical way to do it. They wanted to know if highlighting the participant’s connection to an aesthetically pleasing design could do it. This could be done in the field (i.e the real world)…