Sketchplanations

Explaining one thing a week in a sketch

Sketchplanations

Explaining one thing a week in a sketch

Languishing - Sketchplanations

Languishing

Meh. Blah. Can't be bothered? Not excited about the future? Perhaps you're languishing. Adam Grant's NYT article, There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing, resonated with so many people as the coronavirus pandemic drew on. While not having a mental illness or being clinically depressed, many of us associated with a general stagnation or apathy towards things — an absence of, or poor, mental health. Languishing is a counterpoint to how we might feel in prime mental health, full of wellbeing or Flourishing. While languishing may not be necessarily dangerous in itself, if you're languishing you may be at higher risk of mental illness. Some steps Adam suggests we can take: Naming our state can be a first step to doing something about it Looking for small wins that show us progress Asking how our friends and family are doing — having the opportunity to speak to someone about it You also might consider working on the 5 Ways to Wellbeing, getting in some forest bathing, walking a labyrinth, aiming for some flow, noticing when you're happy, or seeing what might bring you hope. — The term languishing for that part of the mental health continuum is from Corey Keyes. See for example, Corey L. M. Keyes. “The Mental Health Continuum: From Languishing to Flourishing in Life.”Journal of Health and Social Behavior, vol. 43, no. 2, 2002, pp. 207–222. Armchair and inspiration, as usual, from Bill Watterson. Order a print
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Confirmation bias - Sketchplanations

Confirmation bias

Confirmation bias is the big one. The bias that leads us to live in a world of our own choosing, finding the information that already fits with our beliefs and ignoring or discounting what doesn't. It's the bias that makes two sides get further apart rather than closer together. Edward De Bono in Water Logic suggested a metaphor for thought as channels of water. As water runs through the channels the channels get deeper, and as they get deeper it pulls more of the water into the main channels until there is only one way. Confirmation bias can act like that. It's important to work to understand different opinions, not discount them upfront. To use our empathy to understand why others feel the way they do. And when we deliberately seek out information that challenges our point of view we will usually find a richer, more nuanced world that helps build bridges with others rather than drive us apart. Order print
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Herd immunity - Sketchplanations

Herd immunity

When studying rates of infections, notably with measles, researchers have seen that in cases where a sufficiently large proportion of a population has been immunised or developed protection against a disease then infection rates also reduce in unprotected members of the population. In other words, the unprotected members appear to receive some indirect protection from the protected members of the population. This effect is known as herd immunity and is a tantalising goal for reducing the prevalence of epidemics. While appealing in theory this article in Nature provides Five reasons why COVID herd immunity is probably impossible. These include: Uncertainty around whether vaccinations prevent transmission. For example, herd immunity works when diseases can't be passed between protected members of a population to the unprotected. With COVID-19, vaccines seem to reduce symptoms but may still allow transmission. It's also challenging to get vaccines evenly to all areas. These combined with complications brought by new variants, immunity fading before widespread vaccination is achieved, and people changing their behaviour — say, mixing more widely — once they've received some protection, means COVID-19 may be more likely to be something we live alongside rather than eradicate. Also see: the Swiss cheese model Order print
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The dilution effect - Sketchplanations

The dilution effect

In much of life we're used to things adding up — got one scoop of ice cream? Two is likely to be better. Buying one thing? Getting another free is probably a good thing. The dilution effect, however, illustrates an interesting action of our brain when evaluating our options. Niro Sivanathan showed that when displaying possible side-effects of drugs, if you were to add another side-effect, a minor one like 'itchy feet', instead of the extra negative side-effect increasing our overall perception of the risk of the drug it actually lowered it. So, people would deem a drug with the side effects heart attack, stroke, and itchy feet, as less risky than one with just heart attack and stroke. In another clever experiment by Christopher Hsee at the University of Chicago, people were willing to pay less for a new dinnerware set when the set was actually larger but also included some broken items. Even though a set had more intact items the presence of a few broken ones decreased the set's perceived value. And the same may be true when making an argument to persuade someone to see our point of view. If you have 2 strong points and 1 weaker one, your argument may actually be made weaker by adding the extra point. As Niro Sivanathan, an Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at London Business School, explains: Arguments don't add up. They average out. Next time you're making your case, consider sticking to your strong arguments. Order a print — Hear Niro Sivanathan explain the dilution effect in his 10 min TED talk The counterintuitive way to be more persuasive The paper: Sivanathan, N., Kakkar, H. The unintended consequences of argument dilution in direct-to-consumer drug advertisements.Nat Hum Behav 1,797–802 (2017).
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