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Judgment Bias: Even Dogs Have It.

A recent online article by Richard Farrell on discovery.com reviews a study revealing that man's best friend may not always be as happy as we think. In "Bowl Half Empty: Dogs Can Be Pessimists", Mr. Farrell reviews a study that tested the "judgment bias" of dogs. As the study explains, this specific form of cognitive bias, "....refers to how animals interpret ambiguous signals and whether they expect more positive or negative outcomes. " (Study at p.1.).

It is all in the Attitude !

Once again, the New York Times has published an interesting article in its Sunday Review section on September 5, 2014 entitled "Liking Work Really Matters" by Paul A. O'Keefe. The thesis is that when we really enjoy what we are doing, we can do it for much longer than if we find it to be tedious. Our mental gas tank is nowhere as depleted when we are in the "in the zone" or in "flow": "During a flow state, people are fully absorbed and highly focused; they lose themselves in the activity." (Id.)

Part 2: Bad Faith Exception to Mediation Confidentiality!

Earlier this year, I posted a blog about a U. S. District Court case, Craig Milhouse and Pamela Milhouse v. Travelers Commercial Insurance Company (Case No. SACV-10-01730-CJC (ANx), C.D. Cal.), in which the court held that a "due process" exception applies to mediation confidentiality. Plaintiffs sued defendant for insurance bad faith. During trial, defendant sought to and was allowed to introduce statements made during mediation to defend itself against such claims. The trial court allowed in such evidence, finding that due process required that the defendant be allowed to present its defense.

Should Your Next Mediator Be An Avatar?

Once again, The Economist has reported on an interesting study concerning artificial intelligence and psychology. In its August 16, 2014 edition, the authors of "The Computer will see you now" discuss a study in which the participants chatted with an avatar. More specifically, Jonathan Gratch at the Institute for Creative Technologies in Los Angeles, California led researchers in an experiment to determine if people, when asked the tough or potentially embarrassing questions, will be more forthcoming if responding to an avatar. They found the answer to be "yes".

Duologue: Inattentive Conversing

In their book, The Invisible Gorilla, (Harmony 2010) Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris discuss the notion of Inattentional Blindness or how when we are looking at a scene, we may become so focused on one particular aspect of what we are viewing that we miss the other objects or stimuli that are in plain sight. "Inattentional Blindness occurs where attention to one thing causes us to miss what to others may seem to be blindingly obvious. We have a limited ability to focus and attention in one area can distract us from another area." (http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/inattentional_blindness.htm )

Procrastination !

In the last few weeks, I have published blogs about the way we think. That is, while we use System 1 throughout most of the day, it is intuitive, lazy, and emotional and does not always lead us down the correct path. In contrast, our System 2 is analytical, deliberate, slow, effortful and rational. It takes effort to use it, uses up energy, and being the lazy souls that we are, we tend to default to System 1 thinking as much as possible.

Be Sure To Get Some Sleep !

Once again, another study has connected sleep deprivation with cognitive function. And, it provides some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that if a party witnesses an event while sleep deprived, and then is asked later to recall the event while still sleep deprived, she will recall it inaccurately; that is, she will have a false memory of it. However, the good news is that if she witnesses an event while sleep deprived but is allowed to get some sleep so that the event can be encoded in her brain, and then is asked to recall what she saw, her memory will be more accurate.

To Mediate or Not To Mediate Now, That is the Question

With the upmost respect and acknowledgment to Hamlet's famous soliloquy in Shakespeare's Hamlet, (Act 3, Scen3 1, lines 55-87), the question often arises of when should the parties attempt to negotiate a settlement, through mediation or otherwise.

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