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Want To Be More Productive? Watch Who You Hang Around With

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Prudence, impatience, and laziness are typically thought of as entrenched personality traits that guide how people weigh the cost of risk, delay, and effort. However, research done by Jean Daunizeau and Marie Devaine, from INSERM, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Paris suggests otherwise.


Combining mathematical modelling and cognitive psychology Daunizeau and Devaine asked 56 participants to make a series of decisions involving risks, delays, or efforts, both before and after having observed the decisions of fictitious participants (in fact: artificial intelligence algorithms) that displayed prudent, patient, or lazy attitudes.


What Daunizeau and Devaine found might have us all rethinking who we surround ourselves with. Participants exhibited what is known as a “social influence” bias where the more they witnessed the attitudes of others, the more their own attitudes aligned with them – meaning that they chose the same responses as those they had been shown. Moreover, participants were also found to be bound to a “false-consensus” bias, where they believed, without evidence, that the attitudes of others resembled their own, which served to further confirm the social influence bias. And even more telling, the participants seemed to be mostly unaware of these biases (Devaine & Daunizeau, 2017).


The mathematical simulations devised by Daunizeau and Devaine also demonstrated that both biases are hallmarks of a unique mechanism that is ideally suited to learning both about and from others’ covert attitudes – which challenges the conventional view that attitude alignment is an automatism that is triggered by the need to experience feelings of social conformity (Devaine & Daunizeau, 2017).


Perhaps even more important is that our attitudes – especially those toward effortful action, laziness, risk, and delay – are not so entrenched and in fact, are highly influenced by those around us, such that, before long, we begin to resemble who we hang around with.


How productive we are, and why we might not be more productive, has a lot to do with not just our innate hardwiring, but also the choices we make in who we choose to spend our time with.

Photo by Vintuitive

Want To Be More Productive? Watch Who You Hang Around With

Claire Dorotik-Nana, LMFT

Claire Dorotik-Nana LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in post-traumatic growth, leveraging adversity, and other epic human achievements. Claire has written multiple continuing education courses for Professional Development Resources, Zur Institute, and International Sport Science Association. Claire has also authored multiple books, including:
Leverage: The Science of Turning Setbacks into Springboards and On The Back Of A Horse: Harnessing The Healing Power Of The Human-Equine Bond. For more information about Leveraging Adversity or Claire, visit

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APA Reference
Dorotik-Nana, C. (2018). Want To Be More Productive? Watch Who You Hang Around With. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 29 Dec 2018
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