Article | December 21, 2020
Yes, empathy has become a fad.
Connecting to another human is actually something cool kids do now. If a brand doesn’t have an impact model that includes a practical social issue, consumers tend to not take that brand seriously. In this case, empathy needs to be revisited beyond the trend itself for these strategies to have real, lasting impact.
Practical strategies around compassion meanwhile have similarly become an intrinsic part of social impact organisations. They have become so commonplace that prosocial behaviour has strayed into a kind of tokenism. It is common for instance for consumers to donate their hard-earned money to companies who focus their energies on trying to alleviate real-world issues.
The question then is whether this proxy for compassion isn’t in fact watering down human connections, as well as our positive impact on the issues business and organisations seek to solve with our help.
Postmodern behavioral science
If it is, then we must understand why and how to change that. This is where postmodern behavioral science provides a possible better alternative to social impact strategies. Postmodern behavioral science suggests that the current approach to understanding human behaviour lacks even a rudimentary understanding of empathy, defined in the area of social impact as a discursive strategy that allows us to feel what the group we are trying to help is feeling.
Of course, compassion has very close ties with empathy. Empathy is an innate ability we all have, one that we can learn to develop and fine-tune over time. It is our emotional connection to another human, though one that lies beyond our own ego. It takes the perspective of the person who is struggling and seeks to understand their life, their struggle, and their worldview. It also resolves to value and validate their perspective and experience — something that donating money to a social impact cause does not.
In its broader definition, empathy is a shared interpersonal experience which is implicated in many aspects of social cognition, notably prosocial behavior, morality, and the regulation of aggression.
Empathy has a host of positive after-effects when applied as an interpersonal experience. If a social impact organisation is preoccupied with raising capital, then it is likely to disregard the practical worth of empathy for those who truly want to achieve its mission.
One way that behavioral science can contribute is to utilise tools that can help augment the experience of those in need for those needing to understand those needs. Both AR and VR can help people visualise and follow the stories of those who require compassion. These create virtual environments for partners, governments, and consumers to experience with the people they seek to help.
But of course, much of human behaviour is geared toward seeking pleasant experiences and avoiding unnecessary pain. Our in-built hedonic valuation systems guide decisions towards and away from experiences according to our survival instincts.
This is precisely why business owners who want to encourage empathy in their customers go the easy route, but should seek a more participatory frameworks to inspire and provide experiences for those on board with a social mission.
Then there are issues like financial literacy in underserved populations, access to clean water, education for women and girls, and environmental conservation, to name a few of the problems that social impact companies are attempting to tackle.
If a company is trying to tackle an issue such as access to clean water, then rather than start there, it should first ask exactly how this issue arose and developed. It should question the beliefs that underpin this chronic social inequality, those that inform policies, practices, cultural taboos, and beliefs about water and people’s access to it.
To simply respond to an issue in its developed form is to leave it unfixed. We must be willing to reverse engineer the origins of that issue that got us to where we are. In other words, human behaviour is not the only component to consider in this.
The main behavioral framework public servants should take with them is to develop a nudge unit solely based on the relationship between behavioural science and technology.
This is mainly because technology is an inevitable part of how we now relate to one another. Immersive Compassion meanwhile should embrace tools like AR/VR that seek to create empathetic environments and valuable impact longevity.
To fully embrace empathy as an organisation is to create relevant and rigorous responses that go as far as to alter the infrastructure of its target goals. Optimising social impact comes down to optimising human experience.
Article | December 21, 2020
While many United States healthcare providers are returning to their in-person offices, many others are digging in to offer hybrid telehealth or exclusive telehealth practices moving forward. Understanding the future of telehealth reimbursement is then a pivotal issue. As a hub for telehealth consultants and trainers, the Telebehavioral Health Institute (TBHI) is receiving daily requests for assistance from behavioral health groups and independent practitioners seeking to position themselves for telehealth expansion optimally.
Article | December 21, 2020
Tempted to throw in the towel on your New Year’s resolutions? It’s a natural reaction during this unprecedented year. I’m here to tell you it’s okay—and you probably don’t need them anyway.
You’re in good company if you’ve given up on the big shifts. According to widely-cited research study, only 19% of people keep their New Year’s resolutions. In addition, this may not have been the best time to make changes, given all that’s going on with the pandemic.
Also, worthwhile to consider the following insights on the unease with making big changes these days. According to research published in Molecular Psychiatry, when you go through prolonged challenging times (and the pandemic certainly qualifies), chronic stress can change the architecture of your brain and make you feel worn out, anxious, fearful, or depressed. These aren’t the best conditions for making major changes.
You may also face “change saturation,” or in other words, you’ve had to make so many transitions, you just can’t make any more. To prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed, focus on attainable aspirations. Here are a few recommendations.
DREAM ON A SMALLER SCALE
Success for the next 12 months may be closely tied to a less-is-more approach. Instead of seeking a whole new career, maybe you can set your sights on getting assigned to a new project at your current company. In other words, consider how you can tweak your behaviors rather than overhauling them.
Cultivate gratitude. Appreciate the little things. When you’re more tuned into what you have, you’re less focused on what you still want. This “enough mentality” can be helpful to your mental health. You don’t have to make big changes to achieve satisfaction or happiness. Contentment starts with gratitude.
Avoid perfectionism. Often, the fuel for big changes is a feeling you or your situation are not perfect. Remind yourself that perfection is a myth and focus on what’s working. This will help you find fulfillment with your present reality (even if it’s not all you aspire to).
Make a list, then edit down. Another great way to keep your ambitions reasonable is to make a list of all you want to accomplish and then eliminate everything but the top three items. A surefire route to frustration is to expect too much and put unrealistic pressures on yourself. Instead, focus on just a few vital things you want to accomplish, rather than a long list that does not empower you. After you’ve accomplished the first three goals on your list, you can always come back to the others, but give yourself a fighting chance to achieve the most integral top three, first.
Keep yourself accountable through specific techniques—and pay attention to events that may cause you to slide backwards. Research in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin explains that 40% of your behaviors occur in similar situations, which is to say familiar circumstances encourage the repetition of choices. Therefore, if you’re able to adjust one potentially repeated behavior, it can make a difference.
Create routines and conveniences. When you want to nurture a behavior, make it a default so you’re not thinking consciously about it. Research published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found when you repeat behaviors in a consistent context, it helps with habit formation and these take hold much more effectively. You can use this to your advantage. Instead of making a conscious choice each morning whether you want the donut or the smoothie, have the sliced fruit ready to go and the blender on the counter so when you arrive bleary-eyed to the kitchen in the morning, you’re just doing what’s already laid out. Start each day with the routine of responding to quick-hit emails. Rather than deciding what to work on first, just create a routine where you’re repeating behavior that works without as much conscious thought.
Plan ahead. When you can plan for things, you can usually control them more effectively. If you’re going to be in a situation that might create challenges for your new behaviors, make a plan. Perhaps you’re going to the grocery store and you can make a plan to avoid the cookie aisle. Or if you’re back in the office, avoid the calorie-tempting socially distanced happy hour with colleagues by leaving right on time and get a head start on the big project you’re working on. Anticipating what might present challenges will help you overcome them.
Support can be the difference between making small changes and not succeeding at all. Find a source that works for you.
Find friends. Create a virtual group of people also trying to make changes. Perhaps there’s an online group where you can exchange healthy recipes or provide mutual encouragement for regular trips to the gym. Also tap into your existing network and ask your friend to check in with you to see if you’ve had your workout for the day. Seek out colleagues who can nurture the writing skills you want to develop. Find people who encourage you, provide feedback, and remind you about your ability to succeed.
Use technology thoughtfully. There are a wide variety of virtual solutions to help you shift your behavior. Download the app that allows you to track your water intake or the app that will send you notifications if you haven’t moved enough in the last hour. Look for apps that can help you learn the new language you’ve been wanting to add to your skill set or that can connect you with colleagues who have like-minded ambitions. Behavior shifts are most likely to occur with planning, reminders, and feedback. So, find apps that provide these three kinds of support.
Give yourself permission to do less for now and know you can always do more later. In the meantime, stay strong and be satisfied with a little progress for now.
Article | December 21, 2020
Drug discovery is a notoriously long, complex and expensive process requiring the concerted efforts of the world’s brightest minds. The complexity in understanding human physiology and molecular mechanisms is increasing with every new research paper published and for every new compound tested. As the world is facing a new challenge in trying to both adapt to and defend itself against the coronavirus, artificial intelligence is offering new hope that a cure might be developed faster than ever before. In this article, we will present some of the technologies being developed and applied in today’s drug discovery process, working side-by-side with scientists tracking new findings, and assisting in the creation of new compounds and potential vaccines. In addition, we will examine how the industry is applying AI in the fight against the coronavirus.