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Being Powerful Distorts People's Perception of Time

Maria Konnikova, writing in the New York Timesmade the point recently that there’s much more to poverty than just a shortage of money. Being poor, she said, brings with it other abstract deficits, most notably a lack of time. She quoted Sendhil Mullainathan, an economist and the author the book Scarcity: “The biggest mistake we make about scarcity is we view it as a physical phenomenon. It’s not.”

Saying time is scarce seems imprecise, given that each day, no one has more than 24 hours. But what can change from person to person, and what shapes the way we map out our days, is our subjective perception of time—how quickly it passes and how much of it we think we have. 

A new study out of the University of California at Berkeley examined how the perception of time can be distorted by being in a position of power. With the help of hundreds of people, the study’s authors found that the more power people have, the more time they feel they have available in their lives. The researchers primed some subjects for feelings of either power or powerlessness by assigning them to the role of ...

NIH’s Formula for Innovation: People + Ideas + Time

In these times of tight budgets and rapidly evolving science, we must consider new ways to invest biomedical research dollars to achieve maximum impact—to turn scientific discoveries into better health as swiftly as possible. We do this by thinking strategically about the areas of research that we support, as well as the process by which we fund that research.

Historically, most grants funded by the National Institutes of Health have been “project-based,” which means that their applications have clearly delineated aims for what will be accomplished during a defined project period. These research project grants typically last three to five years and vary in award amount. For example, the average annual direct cost of the R01 grant—the gold standard of NIH funding—was around $282,000 in fiscal 2013, with an average duration of 4.3 years.

We often hear from investigators at all career stages that they spend a significant portion of their careers writing grant applications, consuming precious time that could otherwise be spent conducting research. This grant-writing treadmill is fueled by several factors: fierce competition for limited research dollars, made worse by the current funding situation, which has caused success rates to fall to historic ...

Clandestine to Clever: Tweets Reveal Government's Human Side

On June 6, the Twitter world was rocked by the entrance of a new player: the CIA.

Its first tweet went viral, cropping up more than 300,000 retweets and garnering the agency more than 200,000 followers on the first day. I think we can all agree, at least from the government perspective, that the CIA won the Internet for the day.

Since then, the CIA has put out a mere 82 tweets to a crowd of more than 700,000 followers. For the most part, the content has adhered to CIA Director John Brennan’s original intent “to more directly engage with the public and provide information on CIA’s mission, history and other developments.” The agency has tweeted about things like George Bush’s 90th birthday, the U-2 spy plane from the 1950s, and other cool gadgets you can find in the CIA’s museum of artifacts. On the whole: fairly tame, standard government tweets.

But on July 7, the CIA jumped into the spotlight again when it decided to celebrate its one-month #twitterversary by answering the top five most asked questions the agency had received. Depending on who you talk to, you’ll either hear ...

Morning People Are More Likely to Lie to Their Bosses in the Afternoon

There are morning people and there are evening people; there is ethical behavior and there is unethical behavior. That much we know, and previous attempts to suss out how those categories overlap with each other pointed researchers toward what’s called the “morning morality effect.” The effect, written up in a study last year, suggests that people behave more ethically earlier in the day, the theoretical underpinning being that as a person grows drained from the day’s mounting obligations, they lose the wherewithal required to behave in a saintly manner.

This seems plausible enough, but another group of researchers wondered if the morning morality effect might overlook an element of existing sleep research: that people have specific “chronotypes,” meaning they’re predisposed to feeling alert at different times of day. (One's chronotype can change over the course of a lifetime.) The morning morality effect, they figured, doesn’t account for the portion of the population—roughly 40 percent—whose vitality blooms in the evening. These researchers conducted a study, to be published in the journal Psychological Science, that found that an evening person is roughly three times as likely to behave unethically in the morning than a morning ...

5 Reasons Your Team Thinks You’re a Bad Boss

No matter how great you are as a boss, the odds are against you that your team holds the same opinion.

According to recent studies, 31 percent of employees say they don’t like their boss, 65 percent of executives would rather have a new boss than a raise, and the majority of people would trust a stranger over their boss.

No one sets out to be a bad boss. We’re just messy human beings doing the best we can. Of course with these odds, most of us are dealing with a difficult boss, too. That kind of stress flows downhill. Here are five behaviors to watch out for:

1. You kiss up and stomp down. You drop everything to support your boss. You treat her with deep respect and move mountains to accomplish whatever she asks. The problem is, all that responsive urgency leaves your team spinning, stressed and overworked.

How to fix it: Treat your team with the same level of respect you give your boss. Be just as professional and polite. Consider the impact before making commitments. Check in frequently on workload and discuss priorities.

2. You care more about your career than theirs. Nothing’s ...