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Writing at the intersection of culture and psychology.

A lesson from America’s misunderstood cultural graveyards.

Photo Credit: Seph Lawless

If you were born before the turn of the millennium, there’s a good chance you grew up in and around the American shopping mall. These suburban superstructures were the quintessential emblem of culture and capitalism, their meteoric rise an integral chapter in the story of Americana. Malls weren’t just the backdrop for first dates and first jobs; at their height, they were a veritable barometer for the health of the U.S. economy.

That is, until they weren’t.

Abandoned and foreclosed-upon malls (known colloquially as “dead malls”) are having a moment. They’re the site for pop-up vaccination centers. Amazon has begun…


The truth is that we’re only willing to talk freely about failure after it happens, at certain intervals, and in certain contexts. Our psychological relationship with the prospect of failure is far more complicated.

There’s this pithy turn-of-phrase that episodically makes its rounds across the internet, often attributed to Winston Churchill, occasionally to Abraham Lincoln, that goes like this: “Success is jumping from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

At a fundamental level, we can all draw energy from those words. We’re taught to embrace failure, to learn from it, and above all, to never be afraid of it. Who doesn’t like to hear stories of wildly successful people — from Ray Kroc to Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan to Walt Disney — failing repeatedly before achieving their immortal greatness? These stories are intended…


Most draft strategies and player rankings prey on faulty assumptions, coercing you into making bad decisions that dramatically decrease your chances of success.

Mike Evans might be one of the best wide receivers in fantasy in 2020. But what if drafting him is a mistake? (Photo: The Tampa Bay Times)

Fantasy football is a game most aptly described as unpredictable. After all, so much of our achievements are tied to forces well beyond our control. We all seem to inherently understand this — and yet, we all seem to embark on the same, monotonous strategy on Draft Day. …


The internet has democratized our voices. That doesn’t make us all experts.

Source: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

I am not an expert in infectious diseases.

I hadn’t read, heard, or spoken the word “coronavirus” until about four months ago.

Sure, like you, I’m voraciously consuming information about the Covid-19 pandemic. I’m trying to stay up to date on the models, the impact, and the guidelines from the CDC. I’m staying home, and doing what I can to support our country’s essential employees that risk their health every day.

But I don’t have an opinion to offer about when it’s safe to reopen our businesses, nor…


Working remotely should inadvertently correct everything we misunderstand about creativity and idea generation.

We’ve all been there.

Lost in the cacophony of a dead-end brainstorming session. Maybe the extroverts dominated the air time. Or perhaps the executives in the room strangled every new idea from blooming. Or maybe it was the facilitator, who moderated the conversation about as poorly as a political debate.

For so many of us, an invitation to a brainstorming meeting evokes the same emotions as an appointment for a root canal. But as the sobering realities of the COVID-19 pandemic sweep across our planet, most of…


We often connect our identity to where we work or what we do. Now, more than ever, it’s important to remember that this self-created association is inherently flawed.

Photo: Getty Images

It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

That phrase capably describes both the coronavirus pandemic, as U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams alluded to earlier this week, and the unemployment rate in the United States, which some experts estimate could spike to 30% in the second quarter of 2020 as a result of the shutdowns to combat the virus.

This, of course, means there’s an abundance of uncertainty in the future…


Studies suggest that seemingly inconsequential language choices might reveal something about our identities (and our biases).

If you’re a fan of the New England Patriots, you may refer to your team differently than, say, a Cleveland Browns fan (and no, I’m not talking about your accent). Photo: Jim Davis/The Boston Globe

In 1996, social psychologist John Bargh set out to prove that the words you read can subconsciously influence your behavior. He brought in students, broke them into three different groups, and told them he was interested in studying their language skills. He had the students unscramble thirty five-word sentences. Except, unbeknownst to them, each group unscrambled different words.

One group unscrambled words that demonstrated aggression, such as “pushy” and “disturb.” Another group unscrambled words such as “polite” and “courteous.” And the final group —…


What happens when organizations prioritize decisions based on how they’ll look over what they’ll achieve?

Los Angeles Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman got away with a blatant pass interference penalty against New Orleans Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis in 2019. Had the officials made the right call, the Saints would likely have advanced to Super Bowl LIII. (Photo: AP/Gerald Herbert)

Last October, National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell addressed reporters at a news conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Speaking to the media isn’t new for Goodell, who often holds press briefings at the conclusion of his meetings with the NFL owners.

Roger Goodell is an NFL lifer. He began his career as an intern in the league office in 1982, and served in their public relations department shortly thereafter. Prior to his jaunt to the top of the organizational ladder, he led marketing, sales, and strategic planning. Goodell is often described as an “owners’ commissioner,” which is to say he…


Our love affair with the position is symbolic for the ways in which we misjudge how leaders influence their environment.

2020 NFL Free Agency is in full swing, and quarterbacks stand to reap an unbalanced amount of its benefits. (Photo: Getty Images)

In the not-so-distant future, an NFL quarterback will pocket $40 million per season.

Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill was deemed a middle-of-the-pack passer heading into 2019. This week, he signed a deal worth up to $118 million.

42-year-old Tom Brady (17th in QBR in 2019) is courting offers upwards of $30 million annually. And Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins just landed a two-year contract extension worth $66 million.

Yes, overspending in free agency — regardless of position—is nothing new. But this isn’t a story about salary cap space or contracts. This is about what these numbers represent. Because the proverbial tipping point…


We like to believe that we form unbiased opinions, without letting our political affiliation affect our perspective. But the research overwhelmingly tells us . . . we don’t.

Seeking membership in a group is an innate tendency in human beings. So how does our propensity to team up affect our perception of the world? (Photo: Nevada Policy Research Institute)

This is a story about bias and division. About the surprising ways the tribes we form can hinder reason and thought. It’s a story that is both timely, and timeless. Timely, if you’ve wondered how our opinions of a global health crisis are still largely shaped by party lines. And timeless, in that this type of behavior is, actually, nothing new.

Many among us seem to believe that partisanship is the problem. That polarization is the disease, and more education is the cure. With each person on the opposite end of the political aisle, we tend to think that we’re…

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