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Bullying in a Workplace

On Valentine’s Day, February 14 2011, New York Times ran an article “Web of Popularity, Achieved by Bullying” by Tara Parker-Pope—recent research shows interesting patterns in bullying and victimhood distribution in the school student body. As I was reading the article, I realized that much of what is being described there had a direct parallel in a workplace. I don’t have the data to back this up, but I had personal experiences giving me some anecdotal evidence. Perhaps you have had similar experiences as well (academia is ripe with them). To make my point I’ll quote part of the article below and use bold on text that I’ve replaced in the article: students to co-workers; student body to employees, and so on. Enjoy! Web of Popularity, Achieved by Bullying By TARA PARKER-POPE For many employees navigating the social challenges of a workplace, the ultimate goal is to become part of the “popular” crowd. But new research suggests that the road to workplace popularity can be treacherous, and that employees near the top of the social hierarchy are often both perpetrators and victims of aggressive behavior involving their peers. The latest findings, being published this month in The American Sociological Review,…

Multitasking Myth

I’ve been noticing a lot of praise and demand for mutlitaskers: “We are looking for a talented individual who is [insert a laundry list of qualifications here] and is also a great multitasker!” or “Women are naturally better at multitasking.” or “Not only is he gifted, but he is able to work on all these projects simultaneously. If only we had a dozen more just like him!” (—probably just to get anything done!) The interesting aspect of this increased demand for multitasking is the rise of ADHD diagnosis. So I thought it would be an interesting exercise to pin down what exactly is being praised and diagnosed. A Curious Case of ADHD Let’s start with formal diagnostic criteria for ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). What are the symptoms of ADHD? Below is a list of attributes that is adapted from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th ed. (DSM-IV). When you read this list the first time, imagine an eight year old boy trapped in an elementary classroom. On the second reading, consider an 80-year-old woman in a nursing home. On the third, visualize a soldier just back from Afghanistan. And finally, when you read the list for…

Lessons to be Learned from the GAP Logo Debacle

Geoghegan, T. (2010). “Lessons to be learnt from the Gap logo debacle.” BBC News Magazine. Retrieved on October 12, 2010: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-11517129 A new logo can brighten up a company’s image or enrage loyal customers. In the case of GAP, the latter was obvious. The release of the new logo led to a huge online backlash from customers on FB and twitter conveying how unhappy they were with the logo. Within a week of release, GAP chose to revert back to the original logo after a slew of criticism. GAP LOGO The importance of being an iconic brand has been severely undervalued. The association of the image and brand is overlaid in the minds of people for the last 20 years. Changing the visual must have pre empted GAP to have tested the logo with focus groups and understand the reactions of the audience.  The changed their visual imagery without upsetting customers. The logos below have retained their sense of familiarity which is refreshing and yet without really giving customers the need to process an all together new image to associate with the brand. Companies uniformly moved from serif font to a more elegant Helvetica. MSNBC LOGO GE LOGO Product Positioning:…

Language-learning expertise

Landau, E. (2010). “From brain to language to accent.”  CNN Online. Retrieved on October 4, 2010: http://pagingdrgupta.blogs.cnn.com/2010/09/23/from-brain-to-language-to-accent/?hpt=Sbin Becoming a proficient speaker of at least one language is a hallmark of the typical human psychological development. When it comes to learning more than one language, however, our abilities seem much more widely dispersed. Why might some people display a greater “talent” for learning a second language (or more) than others? By far the best known predictor of success at foreign language learning is the learner’s age.  An increasing number of children who grow up in bilingual environments from early on may well grow up to be fluent speakers of both their native languages. But you don’t have to be natively bilingual in order to master multiple languages at the native-speaker level. In a classic study of second-language acquisition by Johnson & Newport (1989), immigrants to the USA were tested for high-level mastery of English (including phonetic and grammatical nuances), and the results were examined as a function of age at initial immersion in the English-speaking environment. People who started learning English before the age of 7 tended to achieve native-like proficiency. From there on, the older one was at arrival, the less native…

Japanese Playing a New Video Game: Catch-Up

Tabuchi, H., “Japanese Playing a New Video Game: Catch-Up.” New York Times Online. Visited on October 4, 2010: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/20/technology/20game.html?_r=1 This article discuss how Japan is partnering with Westerns in the gaming industry. In the mid 1980s’ through 1990s most game franchises were developed from Japan. Some of Nintendo’s Mario, Pokemon, Sonic the Hedgehog from Sean and Gran Turismo from Sony. Japan is now at least five years behind in the industry. The best selling game was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 which was developed in the United States. Concept Design: Japan use to define the gaming industry. Part of it’s problem is that they need to appeal to players that are located overseas. Interaction Design: Developers want to try and reach out to the West and collaborate. Collaboration in trying to make games have a more global appeal can possibly generate a bigger target audience. Capcom for example developed Take Shadow of Rome. This 2005 action game was made for European and American markets. Instead of designing over sized samurai swordsmen they designed over sized gladiators. Interface Design: The interface design are collaborating with people from overseas and learn their culture in order to appeal in the market. They…