How science debunks “nice guys finish last”

It’s a familiar story. You’ve finally worked up the courage to approach the guy or girl you like. You take a deep breath and prepare to conquer your anxieties. Then, as you step forward, you see it: someone has beaten you to the punch. Even worse, this person is a jerk—he or she treats others without a shred of respect. This is a just another example of nice guys finish last, that sad inescapable truth. Except science says this is bogus.

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Contrary to popular belief, science shows nice people finish first.

According to research out of Harvard University, cooperative people are far more likely to achieve success than their unpleasant counterparts. In the study then post-doctoral fellow David Rand (now Assistant Professor of Psychology at Yale University) had subjects participate in an online game in which players were given a random group of friends. Players could pay to help one another or act selfishly and keep resources to themselves. After each round subjects updated their friend groups, creating new connections and cutting ties. The results? Generous players ended the game with large networks of cooperative teammates, while selfish players found themselves ostracized from the crowd. In other words, the mean guys finished last. Continue reading

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Why I’m framing my college rejection letters

I would like to preface this post by extending my thoughts to all those affected by the terrible events at the Boston Marathon. I wish all those afflicted (some of whom were my high school classmates) a safe and speedy recovery.

During Spring Break I looked after the neighbors’ house while they were on vacation. In the study I noticed an odd letter on the wall—it was a notice from Georgetown University informing the husband that they could not accept his application for financial aid. The date in the corner read April 3, 1976. As I glanced around the room I saw other letters, some denying admission and others explaining why he was not the right fit for a job. Looking at these rejections, I could not help but smile at the irony of it all—my neighbor is the most successful person I know. This is the man who sits on almost every board and has lunch with four-star generals. When I returned to my room and saw my college letters on my desk, I decided I am going to frame them.

College Job Rejection Letter Red Stamp

To burn or to frame?

Let’s be honest: rejection sucks. Whether it’s the perfect job or that hot guy or girl from across the hall, being told no is one of the most difficult parts of life. We come up short, lose what we have tried to achieve. Worst of all, it tears a hole in our self-image: denial tells us we aren’t good locking or smart enough, that we lack the capacity to meet our goals.

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Want to achieve your goals? Science says stop talking

Dear Reddit: thanks for all the love! You guys are pretty cool.

We all have goals. Some of us want to be more outgoing. Some of us want to raise our Pikachu to level 100. If we want to achieve these goals, however, it might be best to keep them to ourselves.

According to a recent study, sharing our aspirations makes us less likely to attain them. The findings, featured in a TEDTalk by entrepreneur and musician Derek Sivers, reveal one of the fascinating ways in which the mind works. Researchers tested 163 subjects across four trials, instructing each to write down a personal goal. Half the participants announced their objective, while the rest kept silent. The subjects were then given forty-five minutes to work toward their goal, after which they described how close they felt to achieving it. The results? Those who had shared their aspirations worked for thirty minutes on average, while those who had not spoken worked for almost the full amount of time. Moreover, participants who had shared their goals reported feeling significantly more accomplished and closer to success than their counterparts, who told the researchers there remained much work to be done.

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The art of failure

Failure. It’s our dirty little secret. Everybody does it, except our own mothers and that cute guy or girl from across the hall. And yet we live in fear of it, shoving our mishaps under the rug to hide them from prying eyes. We take the path most traveled to avoid looking like a fool and showing the rest of the world we are human. Falling short of a desired result seems to be the ultimate shame.

“God damn you! Look what you’ve done to me!”

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