An intriguing article that may help those interested in best meeting project expectations in a team-setting. Here is my take on that- for rewards, it is often best if expectations are lower than the actual; for punishments, it is often best if expectations are higher than the actual; so that in both cases, the resulting momentum is kept pointing upward. The old adage of “under-promise over-deliver” follows along the same line.
“… The probe, called the Stroop Test, presents words in block letters in the colors red, blue, green and yellow. The subject has to press a button identifying the color of the letters. The difficulty is that sometimes the word ‘Red’ is colored green. Or the word ‘Yellow’ is colored blue.
For people who are literate, reading is so deeply ingrained that it invariably takes them a little bit longer to override the automatic reading of a word like ‘Red’ and press a button that says green. This is called the Stroop effect.
Sixteen people, half highly hypnotizable and half resistant, went into Dr. Raz‘s lab after having been covertly tested for hypnotizability. The purpose of the study, they were told, was to investigate the effects of suggestion on cognitive performance. After each person underwent a hypnotic induction, Dr. Raz said:
‘Very soon you will be playing a computer game inside a brain scanner. Every time you hear my voice over the intercom, you will immediately realize that meaningless symbols are going to appear in the middle of the screen. They will feel like characters in a foreign language that you do not know, and you will not attempt to attribute any meaning to them.
This gibberish will be printed in one of four ink colors: red, blue, green or yellow. Although you will only attend to color, you will see all the scrambled signs crisply. Your job is to quickly and accurately depress the key that corresponds to the color shown. You can play this game effortlessly. As soon as the scanning noise stops, you will relax back to your regular reading self’…
In highly hypnotizables, when Dr. Raz’s instructions came over the intercom, the Stroop effect was obliterated, he said. The subjects saw English words as gibberish and named colors instantly. But for those who were resistant to hypnosis, the Stroop effect prevailed, rendering them significantly slower in naming the colors.
When the brain scans of the two groups were compared, a distinct pattern appeared. Among the hypnotizables, Dr. Raz said, the visual area of the brain that usually decodes written words did not become active. And a region in the front of the brain that usually detects conflict was similarly dampened.
Top-down processes overrode brain circuits devoted to reading and detecting conflict, Dr. Raz said, although he did not know exactly how that happened. Those results appeared in July in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences…”