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How To Find a Black Cat in a Dark Room The Psychology of Intuition, Influence, Decision Making and Trust * Especially When There is No Cat By Jacob Burak

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Lots of information in this book which mainly quotes other books by authors such as Caroline Dweck, Daniel Kahneman and and Malcolm Gladwell.

Book mentions a lot about willpower. You have a certain amount of will power each day, this runs out the more you use it (so use it wisely). Find out what is important to you and use your willpower to devote to that task. Puts forward an argument against perfectionism in relation to poor use of willpower.

Hope is important, in essence if you have hope and positive feelings towards the future the degree of effort that you will put in will be much greater than those who are hopeless towards the future. Mentions scientific studies that back this up. Aim for a combination of desire and direction to have optimum achievement.

Quotes study by a palliative care nurse that outlines when people are dying they regret mainly not being true to themselves, doing what other people want and not spending enough time with friends and family.

Intentional outcome discusses this concept and the difference between intention and outcome. People have different opinions on whether to focus on intention or outcome, it usually depends on the situation. Say a spaceship the mission destination (the outcome) is what most would look for rather than the intention.

This is very different when applied to your own goals – for these try not to place your emphasis on outcome. For example if you’re pursuing your own goal such as generating wealth really you should place your own emphasis on intention as this is what you can control the intention. Often the outcome has numerous different external factors that interplay which ultimately you can’t control.

Same principle applies when you play sport. Focus on your technique such as swinging the bat rather than the potential effect of that swing, which could be winning a tournament. If you focus on your technique you are more likely to succeed under pressure.

Book builds upon this by relating the focus on intention to parenting. Suggests when you’re giving children praise do this for their effort rather than the outcome they achieve. This is seemingly beneficial to them in the long term (for the same principle that they can control their effort / intention but not the outcome).

Humility is a good characteristic to possess, it can be hard to measure. In essence if you’re willing to come and meet people and tasks with an open mind knowing that you will have new things to learn you possess humility. If you approach people and tasks with arrogance and believe you already know everything then you are very unlikely to have humility. Remember in the past it may be that you’ve simply be lucky before (in terms of your successful outcomes)! Book tries to back up this statement by mentioning the concept of regression to the mean. Later contains an argument against egotism by stating there is an optimum equilibrium between both helping yourselves and helping others, but both are necessary.

Book mentions lots of studies about problems with evidence in terms of eyewitness accounts, fingerprint analysis and when an expert is told a certain thing the impact of this will have on their analysis. Seeing a weapon at the scene seemingly means the witness is less likely to obtain a positive identification in an ID parade. Regarding ID parades the witness is less likely to select accurately the perpetrator if shown all the possibilities at the same point as opposed to being show each potential suspect individually. If you are ever in the unfortunate position of being accused of a crime this book would be an excellent source to find references that could challenge evidence and help the judge or jury’s decision making process.

What you are told about someone has an effect on how you evaluate them. For example in a study prior to a lecture half the students were informed the new lecturer was warm, half cold. They saw the same lecture but the feedback provided about the warm lecturer was more generous. Try to be warm and competent. If you are cold yet competent people won’t like you. If you are warm and incompetent people people tend to feel sorry for you.

Mentions the concept of hawks (very critical) and doves (very positive) in terms of asking questions and providing feedback. Hawks give their points more strongly. Outlines about how people are willing to gamble to try to overcome a definite loss, whereas the opposite is not true, if you had a definite gain your less likely to gamble to win more. (Kahneman , loss aversion)

The Matthew effect, named from the Bible “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath” (Matthew 25:29) is that the person who is good at something keeps getting better. A rich person will continue to become richer, a poor person will become poorer. The child who is good at reading will read more and become much better, in part due to additional encouragement they receive.

A bureaucrat is extremely risk averse and want the status quo to remain. The only way to move a bureaucrat is to point out a bigger risk if no action is taken. A bureaucrat is the opposite of an entrepreneur. The bureaucrat wants to make the possible taking impossible, whereas the entrepreneur gain by taking risks and tries to make the impossible possible.

Includes an interesting study about baboons and stress levels. Researchers examined stress levels in school and noted that when a family member dies the stress hormone goes up. However in the most socially connected ones this decreases sooner, in part as they have made new connections outwith the family.

Interesting study about individualism and culture differences. For example people in America if they were given a selection of pens to choose from they tend to choose the rarer unique colour, whereas people in Korea tend to select the most common colour. Suggests that Koreans are encouraged to believe they are one of a large group, whereas in the West there has been a rise of narcissism and people thinking they’re important. Suggests an interestingly metric to measure individualism at a population level, this relates to the number of unique names that are occurring on the basis that the greater the number of unique names the more the people believe they are individuals. The numerator is the top 20 common names, the denominator being all other names, this fraction is smaller in societies which promote individualism.

Information about trust is contained which is described as a self-reinforcing circle, of note trust is sadly declining with a rise in narcissism. If you have trust in others you generally have a better life. When you are giving trust it is best to give 100-percent, rather than partial trust which can backfire. Makes this suggestion and backs this up with various experiments relating to money. Suggests that firstborns siblings are more likely to exhibit rivalry than their other siblings. Argues that rivals are more similar to yourself than you may believe. The rival may represent underlying behaviours that you have and don’t want, which you are trying to repress these behaviours are also known as your shadow.

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