Spring at last! Trees are popping, birds are singing, the world is turning green again. Deep down inside you must feel it too. Or does this sound old fashioned? Recent research has demonstrated that people consistently underestimate the beneficial effects that nature brings. So chances are you’re thinking I’m selling mere lay theories, lacking any empirical basis.
The fact that the title of this column is a slogan from an advertising brochure of Microsoft’s Sharepoint does not make the statement less relevant to scientists. If scientists are open about what they do, science will benefit.
Snow White’s evil stepmother had an interesting mirror. Not only was it capable of passing esthetic judgment on women, it did so in utter truthfulness - an awe-inspiring combination in the eyes of many men, I’m sure.
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” This well-known quote, erroneously attributed to Henry Ford, was the response of a marketing manager of a large telecom firm, when I openly challenged the user-centeredness of their approach.
The TU/e is the place ‘where innovation starts’. In my experience it is also a place where work pressures have increased considerably over the last years, for employees and students alike. They all are challenged to come up with innovative solutions to urgent, practical problems of an increasingly complex nature, under the pressure of strict, tight deadlines. This requires creativity. But how do these things relate to each other? How creative are we when under time pressure?
About half of my day I desire something. You too by the way. This ‘something’ could be anything, that’s not the issue here. What matters is that fifty percent of our waking day, we actively want something. This is a good thing, for otherwise we might not embark on anything. But about half of those desires are problematic (so-called temptations) that we need to resist. This resistance requires strength: willpower. Willpower is a wonderful phenomenon some of us (claim to) have in abundance, others too little. But the fact is we need it frequently.
People love contradictions. Universities have hard and soft sciences, or the alphas (humanities) and the betas. It is easy to think about how different they are, but eventually alphas and betas (like two letters in the alphabet) have more similarities than differences.
Psychology is becoming ever more important at TU/e. Technical systems and artifacts, be they games, cars, robots, lighting systems or buildings, are all meant for human end users eventually. It's essential to know how these users perceive, think, feel, and act. The new human-oriented program Psychology & Technology examines every technical design from a psychological perspective.
From now on, on a biweekly basis, Cursor will be taking a closer psychological look at students, teachers, labs, technical artifacts, the workplace, the scientific business, campus, education, and websites.