Service of Retail: A Bellwether of the Economy’s Health, Impact of Shifts in Purchasing Habits or What?

April 28th, 2016

Categories: Economy, Real Estate, Retail, Work

empty store in manhattan

On a recent weekday we walked down First Avenue from 70th to 53rd Street in Manhattan and were alarmed by the number of empty spaces where stores, restaurants, nail salons and other business once thrived in a neighborhood swarming with people.  The worst was an entire block with rental signs in all the street level windows.

The Mt. Kisco Daily Voice reported last week that the Poughkeepsie Kmart branch is one of 78 to close around the country in May. I’ve driven by it a few times a month for years. The times I dropped in I found that the supposed value priced store offered cheap fashion and home fashion with no flair and commodities at far from discount prices which, in part, may account for this news.

On to another retail scene. “Upscale Shopping Centers Nudge Out Down-Market Malls: Some retailers are closing stores in weaker-performing locations to focus on Web sales and more luxury spots,” was a Wall Street Journal headline for Suzanne Kapner’s article. She wrote “Once-solid regional ‘B’ malls that thrived for years are losing shoppers and tenants to the ‘A’ malls—those with sales per square foot in excess of $500, according to Green Street Advisors.

“The research firm estimates that about 44% of total U.S. mall value, which is based on sales, size empty store 2 ave 1and quality among other measures, resides with the top 100 properties, out of about 1,000 malls.” Kapner continued: “Mall owners disagree about whether the Internet is their main problem. They point to demographic changes that redirected population and income growth away from malls built years ago, along with a real estate glut that has left the U.S. with 24 square feet of retail space per person, compared with 15 for Canada, 10 for Australia and 5 for the U.K., according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.”

A few days later, also in The Wall Street Journal, Kapner wrote “Glut Plagues Department Stores,” where she reported that hundreds will close “to regain the productivity they had a decade ago.” Green Street Advisors was again her source. Some 800 are expected to close representing “a fifth of all anchor space in U.S. malls.”

The developers will figure out what to do with these properties and customers will find other places to buy what they need but what about all the employees–how will they make a living?

I wonder if these retail signals representing mom and pop enterprises to major brands reflect shifts in purchasing habits or a canary in the economic coalmine–or both? Politicians and their followers looking for easy answers and quick fixes will blame increased minimum wage laws and the greater cost of health insurance for employees under Obamacare. Others will fault the closings on the massive shift of disposable income from the middle class to the extremely rich, which has occurred over the last 35 years. What do you think?

empty store 2 ave 2

Service of Traditional, Faux and Inadvertent Marketing: Mother’s Day, Gold Toilet & Promposal

April 25th, 2016

Categories: Art, Internet, Marketing, Promotions

MarketingMost marketing promotions are designed to push product, an organization or initiative and are created by those who benefit. Some are dressed up to look like art or charitable generosity but are really to raise the visibility of merchandise, an association, cause or person. And sometimes groups of people support a concept that, as luck would have it, benefits businesses.

Traditional Marketing

I must have had marketing in my veins when, as a kid, I didn’t get why Mother’s Day irritated my Mother's Daymom so much. She thought it was a fabrication to sell cards, candy, flowers and restaurant reservations. As an adult, I’ve helped countless clients to sell their products, services and concepts, which may be why I always appreciated the Mother’s Day ritual. I also love to give gifts and to celebrate occasions. With the exception of Father’s Day, I don’t think many of the offshoots such as secretary’s or boss’s day have done nearly as well.

Marketing in Sheep’s Clothing

Gold Toilet on NYT pageArtist Maurizio Cattelan or his handlers pulled off the second kind of marketing scheme with his sculpture of a gold working toilet that the Guggenheim Museum is installing. You couldn’t miss a giant shot of it on the front page of The New York Times’ “TheArts” section last week that topped serious copy about it. In fact it appeared all over the place. To pragmatist me, it’s ridiculous, has nothing to do with art and everything to do with getting the artist’s name front and center–but I’m clearly out of step.

Inadvertent Sales Windfalls

Nancie Steinberg, whose son Austen is a high school senior, shared info about a Promposal Austen 1phenomenon—promposals–that help sell pizzas, poster board, flowers, cake and more. I’m betting that unlike Mother’s Day, teens came up with this activity and that merchants benefit from it. Does it matter, as long as it’s all in good fun and everyone wins?

Promposals were new to me but not to Caitlin Dewey who wrote about them in The Washington Post in 2014 and tracked the first mention of the word to a Dallas Morning News article in 2001. She followed the movement to its “going mainstream” in 2002-2005. In “A Short History of the ‘promposal’” she defined it as “the eyebrow-raising high-school ritual wherein students go to elaborate, terribly public lengths to ask each other to prom.”

Austen presented his date of choice with a rose bedecked sheet cake decorated with “Will You Go To Prom With Me?” in orange frosting [photos right and below]. His friends videotaped and photographed the moment. She said “yes.”

Dewey wrote of boys in Arizona who laid trails of rose petals from a prospective date’s home to the school and a chap in Idaho who secretly set his girlfriend’s alarm to ring at 3 am with a message “Hope its not too late—will you go to the prom with me?” These and others such as hanging signs from highway overpasses, filling yards with balloons or wearing gorilla suits were all done in 2006, before high school kids had access to Facebook and pre Tumblr. YouTube was the place to be then as now. Dewey reports there are 40,000 promposal videos and 900,000 tagged “prom proposal” or “ask cute.”

What are some of your favorite marketing ideas? Any that annoy, surprise or fall flat?

 

Promposal Austen 2

 

 

 

Service of “Hello” II

April 21st, 2016

Categories: Hello, Phones, Telephone Interviews

Vintage telephone

Phone conversations may be on the wane but you never know when you’ll need to carry on a coherent one. The way things are trending, fewer and fewer Americans will know how to answer a business phone as naturally as locking the front door. It’s to their detriment.

Sue Shellenbarger, in her Wall Street Journal article, “What Children Learned from the Shared Family Phone,” addresses the subject. She wrote, “Nearly half of U.S. households no longer have landlines and instead rely on their cellphones, up from about 27% five years ago, the National Center for Health Statistics says. Among young adults ages 25 through 34, fewer than one-third have landlines. Even at homes with landlines, the phone rings mainly with telemarketers and poll-takers.”

vintage woman on phoneShellenberger quoted one parent describing her kids speaking with her parents: “It drives me bananas when I hear them on the phone saying, ‘Yup, yup, yup.’” [My guess is that many kids did that as long as there have been telephones and calls to grandma.]

The reporter pointed out other benefits of landlines: They work in a blackout and don’t need to be charged. And when you use one to call 911, the emergency operator will know where you are calling from.

Should anyone care about whether kids are taught to answer and speak on the phone? You may be thinking that thanks to technology, companies don’t need a person to do this, so why the fuss? Not everyone wants to depend, for example, on a site like opentable.com, especially if they’ve ever been turned away by a hostess claiming she didn’t have a reservation, as happened to a pal who had invited me to dinner.

When they are older, children might be at a disadvantage if they are interviewed on the phone for a job. A friend’s daughter, who lived on the east coast, just got a great position in the west where she wanted to move. She was invited for an in person interview only after she aced a few telephone calls.

kid on mobile phoneSome jobs involve interviewing others. What if you must cold call to earn a living or if you want to serve on a phone bank to collect funds for a charity or encourage fellow citizens to vote? While customer service jobs in this country are shrinking, there still are companies here that need people to help customers through tech and billing issues. Staff picks up the phone for small companies, from an auto body shop, restaurant, pharmacy or dry cleaner. Do such businesses have budgets for phone training?

Were you taught to answer the phone at your parent’s home at such a young age you don’t even remember when it happened? Do you think phone skills matter? Do employers still assume the ability to answer and speak on the phone is so basic that people arrive with the natural ability? Are there other skills that technology has made obsolete that might still come in handy?

Teen on phone in 1960s

 

Service of Gentle Care at the Hospital

April 18th, 2016

Categories: Doctors, Hospitals, Medical Care

Doctor greeting patient 1

If you need medical attention, it’s a blessing when you’re treated kindly. It might even make you feel–if not get–better.

Big Apple

I was taking in the scene at a bustling waiting room at New York Hospital (NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center) last week. Periodically technicians or doctors stood at the door and called a name. An elderly woman got up to eventually follow a doctor down the hall and close behind was a man.

But first the doctor greeted and shook hands with both and invited the man to join them. “Oh I’m just the escort,” said the man after acknowledging that it had been two years since he last saw the doctor. I couldn’t tell if he was trying to be funny with his escort service remark when he added, “I’m her neighbor,” which didn’t clarify much. The neighbor turned to the patient and asked if she wanted him to come with her. She said “yes,” and off they went.

The patient’s comfort was the objective. The greeting wasted little time; nobody was rushed, resulting in the best, most relaxing outcome.  Anyone in the waiting room who observed this moment was charmed.

Bean Town

Faulkner Hospital

Faulkner Hospital

After an accident where she broke two fingers, a friend needed an operation and was elated at the care she received. This was at Brigham and Woman’s Faulkner Hospital in Boston, known by the locals as Faulkner Hospital. For starters, still shocked by the fall and in pain, she appreciated that the doctor’s office called her to set up the appointment and gave her the next available date at the location nearest her home. Philip E.  Blazar, M.D., her doctor, was forthright, offering to show her as much as she wanted to see/learn about the breaks and was undaunted by peripheral health issues that posed potential hurdles.

Smiling nurseShe knew precisely what to expect because the pre-op team, from surgeon and nurses to fellows, anesthesiologist and assistants, explained every step and reassured her.

Residents came to her room one at a time, introduced themselves, explained their function and confirmed that she understood what they said. The person charged with making her cast did it quickly, with concern for her mobility, and the outcome was pristine. She left after the operation with all follow-up appointments set with the surgeon and a variety of occupational therapists.

Hospital staff was polite, detail-oriented and kind. Even the cleaning crew seemed happy. On every visit, if my friend or her husband passed anyone related to the hospital in a hallway, they’d ask if they might direct them to their destination. The receptionist seemed to keep track of patients to send husbands, wives or friends, coming separately, to the right floor.

Do you agree that how you’re treated is almost as important as the skill of the people who treat you? Have you observed or experienced similar recent examples to share?

Doctor greeting patient 2

Service of Word Choice: dictionary.com Has The Answers

April 14th, 2016

Categories: Education, Politicians, Words

definition

Are you familiar with fracking, incarceration and incendiary? These were words used by presidential candidates for which dictionary.com recorded brisk activity during debates for president.

Some words that President Obama used recently were “incontrovertible and overt.” The President “continues to influence word searches,” according to Rebekah Otto, director of content at the word website wrote Charles Bethea in his New Yorker article “Stumped.” Grace “trended” when the President sang “Amazing Grace” during his eulogy for Reverend Pinckney.

fool“Dictionary.com has a feature called Word of the Day; its lexicographers send vocabulary words to a subscriber list of nineteen million,” wrote Bethea. “Sometimes the linguists appear to be editorializing. Last Friday, after two more town halls, the site offered ‘ninnyhammer’ (‘a fool or simpleton’). Other recent selections, following primaries and caucuses: ‘rabble-rouser’ (‘Our users love agent nouns like this,’ Otto said), ‘rodomontade’ (‘vainglorious boasting or bragging’), and ‘skulduggery’ (‘dishonorable proceedings’).”

The content director loves it when words are misused such as when, in her speech endorsing D. Trump, Sarah Palin spoke of “squirmishes.” Otto described the word as “an unintentional portmanteau marrying squirm and skirmish.” She confirmed that bigly is a word, if little used. Trump chose it when he announced his candidacy.

Photo: cnn

One of the most intriguing aspects of Bethea’s column was Otto’s analysis of words most used by candidates during recent debates. Because unscripted they are more telling–”exploring each candidate’s linguistic essence.” Otto listed: “Clinton: systemic, children, seller. Sanders: speculation, tuition-free, cease-fire. Cruz: utterly, whatsoever, booming. Kasich: blue-collar, surplus, formula. Trump: nasty, sudden, tremendous.” Otto noted that the two Democrats use “concrete language” vs. the Republicans who use “descriptive language,” adding “with the possible exception of Kasich.”

Bet you can guess which candidate made which quote when Clinton and Trump addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee–AIPAC:

  • “If we look at the broader regional context, converging interests between Israel and key Arab states could make it possible to promote progress.”  
  • “What kind of demented minds write that in Hebrew?”

Were you familiar with all the words that Bethea reported generated vigorous searches on dictionary.com or that the staff selected for its Word of the Day? I didn’t know either ninnyhammer or rodomontade. What can you tell about a candidate by his/her word choice? What about the citizens who look up the words—are they curious or uneducated?

Curious George 2

Service of Couples Therapy

April 11th, 2016

Categories: Love, Marriage, Therapy

couples therapy

We enjoy “Doc Martin,” a program about the socially crippled but bright small town physician Martin Ellingham played magnificently by Martin Clunes. The drama takes place in a charming fictitious village, Portwenn, which is really the scenic Port Isaac in Cornwall. The Doc falls in love with the town school headmistress Louisa Glasson—the actor Caroline Catz–and after a few false starts they marry [Photo below, right]. Married life with the misfit doc isn’t easy, they separate and of late the doc and Louisa took their marriage to a couples therapist whom they fired just as she came to tell them she was taking a break and leaving town. The therapist wished them “good luck” in a sarcastic tone filled with insincerity and doubt.

Doc Martin and FamilyDr. William J. Doherty, interviewed by Elizabeth Bernstein for her Wall Street Journal article, “What a Marriage Therapist Really Thinks,” wouldn’t approve of the therapist’s overt pessimism about the future of their marriage. Dr. Doherty told Bernstein: “Therapists differ widely in how much hope they carry for deeply troubled couples. A lot of therapists, particularly those who do some marital therapy but aren’t experts, do a history and say to themselves: ‘This marriage will never last.’”

In addition the St. Paul, Minn.-based marriage and family therapist told Bernstein: “It is almost like a spiritual discipline to monitor my internal side-taking. One of the things I tell myself is there is always more to the story. The other thing is that in most marriages when people are showing their angry, frustrated side, those are hard feelings. There are usually soft feelings under that: helplessness and vulnerability. When someone is acting out harsh feelings, it is my job to keep in mind that there is something soft they’re not expressing.”

take sidesThe family therapist says it’s a mistake to take sides and/or gang up against husband or wife as tempting as it might be. He wants each party to recognize their “contribution to the marital problems.”

He also shared: “A good question to ask your therapist is: ‘How many couples do you see who are successful?’ The answer you are looking for is ‘the great majority.’ The answer that should make you run for the hills is: ‘It depends on how you define success. For some, divorce is successful.’ This is the response of a neutral therapist who doesn’t have a stake in helping you stay together and being happy. You wouldn’t want an oncologist who says: ‘A lot of people die. Some live.’”

Doherty, who has been married over 40 years, never tells a couple that therapy isn’t working. He first wants to know what they think. He observed that “people idealize a therapist’s marriage. I tell couples that every married couple has two to three chronic problems that never go away. You learn to live with them more graciously and don’t let them hurt you as much.”

Of note: the word “love” didn’t once crop up in the article. Can you imagine why? Do you think that a business partnership or a team leader with warring staffers might pick up some pointers from such a practical, experienced couples therapist?

 Love

 

Service of Potential Typos: New York State’s Electronic Prescription Drug Law

April 7th, 2016

Categories: Doctors, Internet, Medicine, Pharmaceutical

Typo

The new law in New York State that makes it mandatory for physicians to order drugs electronically immediately made me think of a few things. 

  • I worked in an office where if one person chronically left open a window midwinter potentially causing frozen pipes and other calamities or did some other thing management frowned upon, everyone got a memo—not just the offender. The alleged major reason for ordering prescriptions online is to cut down on doctor shopping for pain killers like Vicodin or Percocet. So why make doctors go through the rigmarole for all doctor shoppingprescriptions?
  • An ace editor reporting on product introductions in a trade magazine mistyped one digit in a client’s toll free number, [prior to websites]. Readers calling the number got an earful of porn. We laughed, she was embarrassed, errors happen when you juggle work and are rushed. I predict that when a doctor types a bunch of digits while listening to a patient’s complaints and questions he/she either won’t hear important information or is set up to make mistakes in the order.

Say you’re the receptionist tasked with the pill ordering chore. As you take messages, make appointments, greet patients and mishear the name of the drug the boss yelled in from another room, do you think you’ll get right all the codes for meds and pharmacies? What the patient gets may be a surprise. 

I feel that the more personal information we are forced to put in easily hackable places the worse for all. In a recent comment about a previous post “hb” wrote: “Given that the internet is now totally insecure as to confidentiality… if you catch syphilis cavorting with a prostitute, not just your wife/husband and children/parents, but also all your friends and neighbors are going to know about it within weeks. Maybe the young just don’t care, but I do!” My thoughts precisely.

Drs John LaPook and Holly PhillipsI heard Jon LaPook, MD, chief medical correspondent for CBS News with Holly Phillips, MD, [Photos, Left], on the “Morning Rounds” segment of CBS This Morning Saturday on April 2. Dr. Phillips admitted it’s faster for her to call in a prescription and doesn’t think the electronic logon and pharmacy search is time-effective but she seemed resigned as all NY docs must be. If they don’t comply, they are subject to fines, loss of license—even jail time. 

Dr. LaPook said he loved the system. A patient contacted him while he was on a flight and he was able to submit a prescription from the plane. However, the only additional benefit he could point to, in addition to controlling access to painkillers, was that there will be no mistakes made by bad handwriting where the pharmacist “reads quinine when the doctor meant Quinidine.” He admitted that the checking part of the process—to confirm that the patient isn’t getting painkillers elsewhere–is clunky but predicted that the system will eventually be great.

A young friend, who can fix any computer and is more tech-savvy than most, told me that the only winners in this new arrangement are the people who sold the programs to physicians and pharmacies. Do you agree?

Tech savvy

Service of Warring Design Styles

April 4th, 2016

Categories: Academia, Architecture, Art

Butler Library, Photo: Wikipedia

Butler Library, Photo: Wikipedia

 

 

I like interiors that mix design styles–contemporary art with 18th century antiques for example–but for some reason I can’t explain, I find visually jarring lawns or fields around Victorian, New England saltbox, farmhouse or traditional style houses strewn with contemporary sculpture and oversized copycat Calder mobiles.

That’s why Jillian Steinhauer’s article on hyperallergic.com, “Columbia Students Object to Installation of Henry Moore ‘Monstrosity,’” caught my eye.

Sidenote: The reporter writes for a well regarded online art news source that describes itself as “a forum for playful, serious, and radical perspectives on art and culture in the world today.” She ridicules these stuffy, unhip students and alums who are clearly clueless when it comes to art. Because I agree with them about the installation’s placement–though I like Henry Moore’s work–I felt mocked by her perspective, like a Bernie Sanders supporter at a Donald Trump rally.

What started out in Steinhauer’s article as the protest of three seniors and one alumnus who “expressed their horror” in an op-ed in the university’s daily student paper became, in an update, 1,000+ who signed a petition to prevent the installation of “Reclining Figure 1969-70″ [Photo below, right] in front of Butler Library.

The initial four, one currently a law student at Yale, described the work as a “ghoulish figure,” a “monstrosity,” an “ugly hunk of metal,” “a desecration of our home,” and an “arrogant middle finger to the world.”

Steinhauer continued: “They liken it to ‘a dying mantis or a poorly formed pterodactyl.’

Henry Moore's "Reclining Figure 1969-70"

They slander it as ‘an idealization of a chewed wad of gum.’”

She inserted: “Who said art didn’t still have the power to shock — the art of a British modernist working in a family-friendly zone between figuration and abstraction, no less?”

She continued with the students’ complaints, punctuated by her own observation: “Whatever its artistic merits, placing the sculpture in front of Butler Library will put an eyesore on an otherwise crisp, geometric, and symmetrical landscape. Moore’s ghoulish figure clashes with the neoclassical aesthetic instantly recognizable to generations of Columbians.”

She again editorialized, before sharing another comment from the article in the student paper: “And my favorite: All of this is not to say that modern sculpture has no place at the University. It just doesn’t belong in the center of campus.” And she concluded: “Please, no one tell these folks about postmodernism. They might do something drastic.”

She didn’t note another point made in the op-ed: “Adding insult to injury, the narrow stretch of lawn that Reclining Figure will inhabit is the only part of South Lawn permanently open to the public. The sculpture’s girth will intrude on the precious few square yards of grass where students congregate together, be it over soccer or cigarettes.”

I was surprised that nobody commented on the potentially horrific cost of this sculpture–to protect, maintain and insure it–at an institution that already charges students in the high five figures for a year of study. Maybe it was a gift so Columbia didn’t have to pay for it?

Is the goal of art to shock? Do you appreciate the juxtaposition of contemporary sculpture installed outdoors with traditional backgrounds?  Can you shed light on why I comfortably mix contemporary art with antiques inside but have trouble when it comes to this jumble outside?

 

agree to disagree

Service of Strings Attached

March 31st, 2016

Categories: Architects, Art, Interior Design, Real Estate, Strings Attached

 

Ball of string

Most of the things we buy we own and can do with what we wish. Art isn’t one of them, especially works by famous, living people. If they didn’t know it before, the developer planning to convert the Sony Building on Madison Avenue to a hotel and luxury apartments knows it now.

Sony commissioned Canadian artist Dorothea Rockburne to create two fresco murals for its lobby in the 1990s. The Chetrit Group, that bought the building from Sony in 2013 for $1.1 billion, has her to deal with according to Peter Grant in his Wall Street Journal story, “Artist Skeptical Over Murals’ Fate.” 

Robert A.M. Stern, architect

Robert A.M. Stern, architect

Grant wrote: “The fate of [the] murals has been uncertain since earlier this year when Ms. Rockburne set off a furor in the art world by saying they were being endangered by the conversion project. That led to a series of meetings in February and earlier this month between Ms. Rockburne and Joseph Chetrit; his son, Jonathan; and their architect, Robert A.M. Stern.”

Rockburne wants control over lighting and doesn’t want the murals moved. Grant wrote that her “artwork is grounded in astronomy and mathematics” and that the murals were “designed in part to reflect their exact locations in the cosmos.” As for the lighting, “getting it wrong would be like leaving out a color” she told Grant. “It can’t be seen unless it’s lit by me,’ she said.”

Architect Stern told Grant “that his firm is making sure that the lighting and other design elements complement the murals, which will ‘give this lobby a wonderful glow and make it something everyone will want to enjoy and experience.’ He added: ‘I am the architect and interior designer for the project and not Dorothea.’”

Rockburne, whose work is found at topflight museums such a MoMA and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, didn’t care for photos she saw of the model lobby—due to be completed in 2018—because high desks “obscured the view of the mural.” Rockburne posited, “Would you put desks in front of the ‘Last Supper?’”

Picasso "Le Tricorne," Photo: LA Times

Picasso “Le Tricorne,” Photo: LA Times

Developers have crossed swords before over artworks in buildings they’ve bought. Grant reminded readers of Aby Rosen who caused a kerfuffle when he removed Picasso’s “Le Tricorne,” from the Four Seasons restaurant when he bought the Seagram Building 16 years ago. Grant reported that the Picasso stage curtain is currently on display at the New-York Historical Society.

I’m not a lawyer but a quick scan of Google made clear that artists—especially high profile ones still living—own copyrights to their works which limit what those who have commissioned their work can do. Goodness knows whether there was legal mumbo-jumbo between Sony and Rockburne which covered what happened to the works if they sold the building or what, if any, control current laws give this artist. Grant wrote that she has asked the Chetrits’ for a contract in which they agree to preserve the murals, which leads me to believe the fate of Northern and Southern Sky isn’t as buttoned up as she’d like.

Do you think Rockburne—or any artist–should be able to direct furniture and lighting placement in the lobby of a building they don’t own? Should a developer/new owner have any rights when it comes to work that comes with a building? Would you be slow to commission artwork from a top-selling artist for a building you own because of potential future complications?

copyright

Service of Fiction

March 28th, 2016

Categories: Academia, Fiction, Social Skills

 

fiction

Reading fiction, “especially stories that take readers inside people’s lives and minds,” improves social skills more than nonfiction, fiction about places or for people who don’t read, Ann Lukits wrote in a news brief about a study she highlighted in The Wall Street Journal.

The study, published in Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience online, found that “reading fictional excerpts about individuals and groups of people heightened activity in a brain system known as the default network,” she wrote. There were 26 men and women aged 19 to 26 in the Harvard study. They read 52 excerpts from novels and articles as they underwent MRI brain scans.

And the significance of the default network? She wrote that for those with diseases that impact social abilities–such as autism or brainschizophrenia–studies have shown a disrupted default network.

“Fiction’s ability to improve social skills–or social cognition–may depend on how well readers’ attention is drawn to other people’s mental states,” wrote Lukits of the researcher’s findings. “Stories containing compelling emotional, social and psychological content may trigger neural changes in the default network, which could translate into enhanced social skills in real life, they suggest.”

I wonder about the significance of such findings. In addition to the tiny sample of participants–and as Lukits also pointed out, the similarity in age of the participants–I think that the MRI scan must have impacted results. If you’ve ever had one, you’ll know what I mean. I had a panic attack the one time I had one. That reaction would surely stimulate some part of my brain that had nothing to do with what I was reading–only where I was reading.

Do you think such studies might nevertheless shed significant clues to help the socially awkward whether or not they have serious conditions? Are they done primarily because of the pressure of publish or perish in academia? Do you have friends and acquaintances who read only nonfiction–or who don’t read–and are their social skills wanting? Do the fiction readers seem to be more socially adept?

publish or perish

 

 

Get This Blog Emailed to You:
Enter your Email


Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Clicky Web Analytics