Thursday, October 23, 2014

Studio Journal Episode 15 - The Hallway

Now that I have been living in my Dollar Store Studio (Do you like that name?  I came up with that this week for my content strategy course.) for a month, I have learned something very interested about the hallways. 

The insulation between the apartments and the hallway is non-existent.  There are visible gaps around the doors.  Evidence for this is that I can smell some wonderful Indian food in the hallway when I come home from work.  There are a lot of South Asians in my building, obviously.  And their food smells leak into the hallway. 

On the other hand, it is at least 10 degrees warmer in the hallway then in my apartment.  It was 20 degrees during the summer (not good), but in the winter I think that might be a bonus. 

Except that I can’t help but wonder why food smells transfer but temperature doesn’t.  I am sure there is some physics explanation for this about the size of food particles versus the pressure differential that transfers temperature.  But that is way beyond my physics skills.  I barely got through Physics 1 at Tufts.  If someone could explain this to me, I would appreciate it.

Losing a Win-Win situation

This research resonated with me more than I would like to admit.  They looked at what happens when you have to decide between a set of options that are all good.  In theory, you win either way.  So you should take the best one and be happy.

But it isn’t that simple.  It never is.  It turns out that two areas of the brain both get activated.  The pleasure area gets activated in anticipation of getting a reward.  Dopamine shots all around.  It doesn’t matter if you have two choices (easy to find the best one) or six choices (harder to find the best one)

But your anxiety area gets activated also.  It can’t help but be worried that you won’t pick the best choice (regardless of the fact that they are all positive) so it releases stress hormones.  And it releases more in the six choice condition than in the two choice condition. 

Then there was also a follow up study.  After the study was presumably over, they gave the participants the option to change their minds.  Electrical activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, which signals conflict and indecision, was higher in people who changed their minds.  This indicates that even after they thought the study was over, some participants remained conflicted about the choice. 

They also found that participants who reported more anxiety in their daily lives were more likely to change their minds.  So anxiety is related to indecision, stress, and buyer’s remorse.  Every time you make a choice, even when it is all good, causes anxiety.  It can build up over time and cause long term anxiety and stress.