Would You Walk Through Fire for Your Company?

In 2014, psychologists in Australia, led by Brock Bastian, found that shared painful experiences can solidify social bonds, and can even create trust among people who don’t know one another at all. One experiment asked groups of strangers to plunge their hands in ice water, hold a series of leg squats, and eat hot chili peppers; groups that shared painful challenges exhibited increased cooperation during an economic game involving group payoffs for individual decisions, compared to a control group that didn’t. In November 2018, Bastian and fellow researchers published a second study that examined how this phenomenon affects creativity in a team setting. In experiments again using hot chilies and leg squats, they demonstrated that “sharing an adverse (vs. non-adverse) experience leads to increased supportive interactions between team members and this in turn boosts creativity within a novel [newly created] team.”

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