This Day in History – When the French Were Strong

Standard French Flag during American RevolutionOctober 19, 1781 the British surrender to George Washington at Yorktown.

Apparently General Cornwallis of the Brits did not feel well that day . . . no kidding, losing to a scrappy colony that couldn’t even dress its troops . . . so instead General O’Hara officially surrendered for the British. But even O’Hara couldn’t stomach the notion of surrendering to Washington and instead attempted to surrender to Count Rochambeau, Washington’s French counterpart. Rochambeau was kind enough to direct O’Hara to Washington’s subordinate, General Lincoln. Snub for a snub.

The French were pivotal in forcing Cornwallis’ hand. Their navy flushed out the British navy in the region leaving Cornwallis no support and no way out.

So Viva La France! John Trumball’s depiction of the surrender hangs in the Rotunda as it has since 1820.

Nonverbal Cues in Sports: Soccer Penalty Kick

The pink locker room has been a popular story . . . and fortunately, Martin was reminded of another sneaky, brilliant tactic used by Chelsea in the opposing team locker room

Have the boot locker low down, close to floor level, so that the away team player player has to bend down (and hopefully strain their back in the process) … and then position very large coat hooks for their kit at head height, so that when they stand up again they crack their head!

Indeed, who does come up with these great ways to influence your opponent. Are locker room designers really studying psychology or are these tactics developed over time by teams thinking about what they dislike? Is there anything scientific about this?

It turns out there are two academic, peer reviewed journals to look for answers: Journal of Sports Science (UK), and Journal of Sports Science and Medicine in the USA. I am currently reading through issues to bring you the best in locker room shinanegans.

Here’s the abstract of the paper I am reading now:

Soccer KickIn this study, we examined the impact of soccer players’ uniform colour and gaze behaviour on the impressions that are formed of them by opposing goalkeepers. Twelve soccer goalkeepers observed video footage, filmed from between the goalposts to simulate their usual viewpoint, of four players preparing to take a penalty kick. Each of the four players displayed a different combination of gaze (either 90% or 10% with gaze operationalized as looking directly at the camera) and uniform colour (red or white). Goalkeepers rated each player on a series of descriptors (e.g. confidence, composure, assertiveness) and rated their expectancies for successfully saving penalty kicks from that player. Analysis revealed that those penalty takers displaying 90% gaze were perceived to possess positive characteristics to a greater extent than penalty takers displaying 10% gaze. Results also revealed penalty takers wearing red were perceived to possess positive characteristics to a greater extent than those wearing white. Goalkeepers reported higher expectancies of saving penalties from penalty takers displaying 10% gaze and wearing white uniforms than any of the other combinations. Our results therefore support the potential importance of gaze and uniform colour in the formation of impressions and expectancies in sport.

Soccer penalty takers’ uniform colour and pre-penalty kick gaze affect the impressions formed of them by opposing goalkeepers by Iain Greenlees, Alex Leyland, Richard Thelwell, and William Filby. Journal of Sports Sciences, Volume 26, Issue April 2008 , pages 569 – 576.

Jersey color and where the player was looking influenced the Goalies’ perception of how well he would do at saving the penalty. That’s bold.

Though Martin is no fan of Chelsea, the research was conducted in part at Chelsea. And even the Brits are naming the game Soccer in the UK journal . . .

Image courtesy of Doha Stadium Plus Qatar

Nonverbal Cues in Casinos

A place heavy with nonverbal cues is a casino. Some of the best nonverbal environmental research is done for them. If you have ever entered a casino you may have noticed the carpet . . . specifically, how busy and probably hideous the carpet is. For the uninitiated, the crazy patterns serve two main purposes.forget-to-resist-me-casino-carpet

1. First, there are stains to cover – there are always stains to cover, but more importantly,

2. Second, the pattern is so awful that your eye literally can’t stand it. Instead of looking at the floor, you will look up.

When you look up, you see machines and tables. The casino uses nonverbal persuasion with the carpet. It is much harder to resist temptation when it is staring you in the face. And most of us do not resist. We forget to resist the casino and we start playing.

Believe it or not, the ugly patterns on the carpet are, “the result of elaborate market-research tests, designed to find the patterns and colors most displeasing to the human eye!” This from Bill Friedman, author of Designing Casinos to Dominate the Competition.

They want to keep you looking up and disoriented (no windows, no clocks – except at sports book).

Now for what you probably didn’t know . . . the scent of money.

The next time you are one of these casios: The Wynn, Bellagio, Venetian, MGM Grand, take a sniff. Notice anything?

No, it isn’t oxygen being pumped into the air – a fire hazard if ever there was one, cigarettes and excess oxygen in air….

It is the scent of the casino – supreme nonverbal influence! Each one has a system that fragrances the air based on the number and types of people in the casino at a given time. It’s like an HVAC (heating and air conditioning) system, but for scent. The major vendor is AromaSys, check out the client list.

While the founder of AromaSys states that it is just sensationalism to claim that a certain scent can induce people to gamble, Alan Hirsch of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago claims that “the right kind of scent induced customers to spend 45% more on slot machine.”

Perhaps it is just a matter of masking the body odor of the fellow next to you that causes you to not run away from the slot machine prematurely? In that case the casinos could do us all a public service by providing deodorant at the door. Just a thought.

What have you noticed about casinos? Anything you’ve wondered about?

Peak Years and Influence

In an effort to determine the validity of my hypothesis about peak years I’ve scanned through high school data as I get my hands on it . . . turns out it is not so straight forward to get high schools to share their information. It has been even more difficult to get organizations like National Merit to share anything – despite being a member!

At this point I have one 20 year cycle for one high school. While the initial results are not spectacular, measuring the percentage of super stars in the class (total super stars divided by total class size) was more telling, but nothing outrageously off the charts. One class did do a bit better than the others . . . it was a pretty awesome class though I may be biased.

PeakYearspercent total super stars

Basic Economics – Young Minds, Powerful Lessons

It is difficult to find a text to ignite enthusiasm in children for basic economics. Actually, it’s difficult to find a text that teaches economics to adults (I do recommend Thomas Sowell’s Basic Economics) . . . which leads to all sorts of other problems…. But that’s for another day.

In the far, far background of my pile of projects I have toiled on a set of Fairy Tales that convey complicated math concepts in bite-sized nuggets as well as basic economics with the intent of passing along to my godchildren and perhaps my own kiddos some useful stuff….

So I keep an eye out for similar projects. From me to you via NYTimes Blog via Twitter:

They’ve explained how you can convey the economic concepts of popular tales to your children.

The Three Pigs
The Three Pigs

If you think about it, what is the Three Pigs really about? Is it just a jumble of portly pink farm animals running about or is it a lesson in investment and return on that investment. Pig #3 builds a brick house. That took significant time and money. Pig #1 built a house of straw – like most start-ups, here today, gone tomorrow, but he could build it quickly. Pig #2 thinking he improved on Pig #1’s concept without the burden of Pig #3’s concept builds with sticks . . . which really proves to be nothing more than heavy straw – much like a start-up with “seasoned professionals?”

On the simple math side, the Three Pigs introduces the concept of cost / benefit analysis as well as perseverance with harder path in the face of seemingly quick fix solutions. Add in a few simple numbers and let the kids decide for themselves – build with brick or go for straw and hope your Brick brother will bail you out….

Simple Economics for kids of all ages.

Influence and Body Language in New York City/Newark/Philly

Body LanguageOctober 7-11, I will be in New York City to speak on Causing Cognition through Body Language at various private functions and helping Kevin Hogan at his Body Language Mastery Course also in New York, October 10-11.

Kevin has some stellar surprise guests planned. He is after all the man who wrote the book on Body Language and has trained the best in the business. It’s worth the trek. Come find me at   Continue Reading