10 Lab-Tested Ways to Bring Out the Best in People
The best of human nature—generosity, compassion, cooperation, selflessness—surfaced in these studies. Of course, the goal is to draw out a person's good side, not exploit it. Use your powers wisely.
By Jena Pincott
Discovery #1: Inspire a Seat-of-the-Pants Moment
When are people more generous: spontaneously or after stopping to think? To find out, Harvard researchers timed game players as they decided how much money to contribute to a pool that would be doubled and divvied up evenly (the more everyone chips in, the more they get). The result: Faster decisions are kinder. When (by force or choice) people took 10 seconds or less to decide, they contributed 15 percent more money to the common pot than those who took longer. Cooperation seems to be the first impulse (for most of us) before beady-eyed self-interest undermines it. The next time you're running a fundraising marathon, make a quick emotional appeal, then set a quick deadline for the donors.