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October 2020
2020 has forced us to rethink many of our basic assumptions—from how we work to where kids learn to what it takes to stay healthy. Yet in our daily lives, too many of us still favor the comfort of conviction over the discomfort of doubt.
We listen to opinions that make us feel good, instead of ideas that make us think hard. We see disagreement as a threat to our egos, rather than an opportunity to learn. We surround ourselves with people who agree with our conclusions, when we should be gravitating toward those who challenge our thought process. We need to develop the skill—and the will—to rethink our views.
I’m thrilled to announce that this is the topic of my new book, THINK AGAIN. It focuses on how we think too much like preachers defending our sacred beliefs, prosecutors proving the other side wrong, and politicians campaigning for approval. If we thought more like scientists searching for truth, we could develop the humility to know what we don’t know and the flexibility to change our minds as the world changes around us. It launches in February, and it’s available for preorder now.

In the spirit of rethinking, here are the articles that have made me think again lately:

1. We're All Socially Awkward Now (Kate Murphy, NYT)
Studies of isolation suggest that social skills are like muscles. Without regular exercise, they can atrophy. Now is a good time to raise our tolerance for quirky behavior, because many of us are a little rusty.
2. Low Status Increases Jargon Use (Zachariah Brown et al., OBHDP)
Jargon isn't a sign of expertise; it's a signal of insecurity. Nine new studies show that when people lack status, they resort to unnecessarily technical language in an attempt to look smart. When they have status, they're more concerned with communicating clearly.
3. The Role of Cognitive Dissonance in the Pandemic (Elliot Aronson and Carol Tavris, Atlantic)
One of the most important skills in life is learning to sit with cognitive dissonance. Although justifying our beliefs and actions may protect us from anguish in the present, it prevents us from evolving in the future.

4. Why Don’t Women Self-Promote as Much as Men? (Christine Exley and Judd Kessler, HBR)
On an analytic test, men and women did equally well, but men rated themselves 33% higher. It's not just confidence; women know they face backlash for violating humility norms. What if we stopped punishing women who self-promote—and stopped rewarding men who do?

From My Desk:

5. We Get, and Give, Lots of Bad Advice. Here’s How to Stop (NYT)
The advice we give to others is often the advice we need to take for ourselves.
In solidarity,
Adam Grant, Ph.D.
Organizational psychologist at Wharton, author of THINK AGAIN, ORIGINALS, GIVE AND TAKE, and OPTION B, and host of WorkLife, a TED original podcast
Copyright © 2020 The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, All rights reserved.

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