A placebo trial on excuses

Sorry for such a protracted absence from blogging. Been doing the overworked-entrepreneur-cum-road-warrior thing a lot lately. Didn’t realize I’d been at it this long…

Ever have an employee who was a master at making excuses for less-than-stellar performance? Interesting study here that says having a ready-made excuse can lessen people’s performance on mundane tasks–if they’re told it can be challenging to do well on this somewhat boring task, they find it easy to do less well.

Conflicting findings elsewhere indicate that having an excuse for a tough task, such as learning math or facing a difficult social situation, can make people feel at ease and actually do better.

Holy mackerel. Reminds me of the Grimm’s fairly tale of the guy who threw out the visiting traveler because he figured he was a witch with magic breath–because he’d used it to blow on his hands to warm them up and then to blow on his soup to cool it off.

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