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How to Learn Faster and Have More Fun – With Others

An adept tennis player must either be in love with you or darned magnanimous to agree be your doubles partner when you play erratically – as I did.

Thankfully my then-husband was both. I had great fun playing my best games with him. He never complained. It was obvious to me and to the tolerant partners against whom we played that, while my performance went up in these games, his… dipped. 

Yes there are downsides to groups. Yet research confirms that you get better at most any activity when at least one person in your group is more adept than you.  In fact, their mere presence enables you to perform better, found social psychologist Norman Triplett.

Two examples:

• Racing cyclists ride faster when paced or in competition. 

• In a study people were given three minutes to write down as many words as they could that were related to a word.

They were told they were not in competition with each other yet participants produced more words when others were present than when alone. 

Unfortunately, when the tasks are more difficult, tension kicks in.  We choke and do worse.  Psychologists call this effect social inhibition. 

Three factors contribute to our ability to perform better when around others:

1.  Attentive observers are more distracting than inattentive audiences.

2. Opposite sex audiences are more distracting: men are more inhibited on difficult tasks (but better on well-practised tasks) when watched by women and vice versa.

3. Good moods may in some situations help performance and bad moods inhibit it.

Useable Insight:

• Learn simpler tasks faster and enjoy yourself more by getting involved in a group (club, class, project, etc.) that Includes members who are better at the skill than you.

The conundrum?  Recognizing the three factors, how can we learn faster in the presence of those of the opposite sex who are not paying much attention  – and not feel at least slightly offended that we don’t have their full attention?  What can help? Stay calm and focussed on the task, expecting to be liked. 

 

 

Categories: behavior, Learning and tagged , , , , , , .
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4 Comments

  1. Posted September 9, 2009 at 2:25 am | Permalink

    I’m one of those guys who hated the team exercises in the MBA class – I was always frustrated and felt I could have done the job better/easier myself. 20 years later, I still have the tendency to want to do things myself and have to be patient when involving others who have differing approaches to problems than me. But the truth is I’ve learned and become a better leader by letting others in.

    Thanks for an interesting and practical Blog post!

  2. Michael Yanakiev
    Posted September 12, 2009 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    An extremely useful and practical Blog post, for people pursuing competitiveness,speed and fun based on
    utilizing the experimented research and experience accumulated by modern psychology,that claims it has
    reached the best answers. I personally do not share entirely the competitive values that are promoted. Sometimes they can have a counter effect on the individual. Oscar Wilde, formulated a beautiful thought
    that states-“A cynic is a person,who knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing.” Oscar was
    always himself and he never tried or had to prove anything.He didn’t have to. Something that is valid for every human being.But American culture,sports,etc, have to be by definition attractive to have success,popularity and fun,which unfortunately does not bring in happiness.
    I personally am more interested in topics that are similar to the ones advocated by Professor Philip Zimbardo (Psychologist), who states-“I have been primarily interested in how and why ordinary people do unusual things,things that seem alien to their natures.Why do good people sometimes act evil? Why do smart people
    sometimes do dumb or irrational things?” The answer is, because of other people! What a great insight,
    relevant to all our lives, every day.

  3. Michael Yanakiev
    Posted September 12, 2009 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    An extremely useful and practical Blog post, for people pursuing competitiveness,speed and fun based on
    utilizing the experimented research and experience accumulated by modern psychology,that claims it has
    reached the best answers. I personally do not share entirely the competitive values that are promoted. Sometimes they can have a counter effect on the individual. Oscar Wilde, formulated a beautiful thought
    that states-“A cynic is a person,who knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing.” Oscar was
    always himself and he never tried or had to prove anything.He didn’t have to. Something that is valid for every human being.But American culture,sports,etc, have to be by definition attractive to have success,popularity and fun,which unfortunately does not bring in happiness.
    I personally am more interested in topics that are similar to the ones advocated by Professor Philip Zimbardo (Psychologist), who states-“I have been primarily interested in how and why ordinary people do unusual things,things that seem alien to their natures.Why do good people sometimes act evil? Why do smart people
    sometimes do dumb or irrational things?” The answer is, because of other people! What a great insight,
    relevant to all our lives, every day.

  4. Michael Yanakiev
    Posted September 12, 2009 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    An extremely useful and practical Blog post, for people pursuing competitiveness,speed and fun based on
    utilizing the experimented research and experience accumulated by modern psychology,that claims it has
    reached the best answers. I personally do not share entirely the competitive values that are promoted. Sometimes they can have a counter effect on the individual. Oscar Wilde, formulated a beautiful thought
    that states-“A cynic is a person,who knows the price of everything, but the value of nothing.” Oscar was
    always himself and he never tried or had to prove anything.He didn’t have to. Something that is valid for every human being.But American culture,sports,etc, have to be by definition attractive to have success,popularity and fun,which unfortunately does not bring in happiness.
    I personally am more interested in topics that are similar to the ones advocated by Professor Philip Zimbardo (Psychologist), who states-“I have been primarily interested in how and why ordinary people do unusual things,things that seem alien to their natures.Why do good people sometimes act evil? Why do smart people
    sometimes do dumb or irrational things?” The answer is, because of other people! What a great insight,
    relevant to all our lives, every day.

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