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By Richard Wiseman
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Additional resources for 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot (Borzoi Books)
However, are these benefits the result of receiving love, expressing love, or both? To find out, Kory Floyd, from Arizona State University, and his colleagues18 asked some volunteers to think about someone they loved and spend twenty minutes writing about why this person meant so much to them. As a control, another group was asked to write about something that had happened to them during the past week. Each group repeated the writing exercise three times over the course of five weeks. Once again, this simple procedure had a dramatic effect, with those who spent just a few minutes engaged in affectionate writing showing a marked increase in happiness, a reduction in stress, and even a significant decrease in their cholesterol levels.
You might think that the answer lies in the financial consequences of continually having to have the latest thing. But in fact the problem is not about the spending of money per se. It’s about who benefits from the cash. Materialists tend to be somewhat self-centered. Studies show that when presented with a hypothetical $40,000, materialists spend, on average, three times as much on things for themselves as they do on things for others. Also, when they are asked to rate statements about the degree to which they care for others (“I enjoy having guests stay in my house,” “I often lend things to my friends”), they end up giving far more self-centered responses.
Should you mention weaknesses toward the start of the interview, or hope to make a good first impression and introduce possible problems only at the end? 5 Participants were presented with a tape recording of a man (actually an accomplice of the experimenters) talking about his life. They were then asked to rate the degree to which he sounded likeable. During the interview the man told how he had not completed a school semester because he had been caught cheating and had been expelled. The researchers edited the tape so that half of the participants heard this bombshell toward the beginning, while the others heard it toward the end.