Solving problems and making decisions are things we have to do every day, in both our work and personal lives. This fascinating talk by David Rock looks at what neuroscience can teach us about the things that help and hinder our ability to think.
It's an hour long, but well worth your time. The key points:
- Our belief in the superiority of rational thought is significantly overstated: our capacity for rational problem solving is actually extremely small.
- Perceived threats have a large, long-lasting, negative impact on our ability to solve problems and make decisions. The way we typically deal with negative emotions, by suppressing them, makes this worse.
- Social needs are primary, not secondary (Maslow was wrong). Social pain (for example, someone telling you your work is deficient) activates the same regions of the brain as physical pain. The brain craves status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness and fairness (SCARF). Threats to these hamper our ability to think.
The two papers mentioned in the talk - "Managing With The Brain In Mind" and "The Neuroscience of Mindfulness" are also worth reading, especially the first, which covers some of the same ground as the video. Rock also has a book that discusses the ideas in more depth.