Tell people that their diets or habits are making them fat or out of shape and they shrug -- we hear that crap every day. Tell them that their habits make them stupider and you're about to have a fight. We all know that our brain is a part of our body, but nobody likes to think of their intelligence as something that can get weak and flabby due to things that are out of our control.
Science says otherwise. Studies have shown ...
5Meetings (And Group Projects in General) Slow Down Your Brain
Have you ever been in a situation where you had to work with other people (like a meeting at work or forming groups in school) and suddenly felt like everyone involved was suddenly dumber than normal? It's not just that you hate everyone you're working with (and that they hate you, too) -- it's science.
The subtle science of hate.
It turns out that just being in meetings and group situations can drain your brain. In a study done by researchers who probably wished they were working alone, they found that when people are made to work together in small groups, their brains start freezing on them like an old computer running Windows Vista. There are a couple of reason for this; one, they have to focus more on interaction and behavior (think of all the brainpower that goes into not scratching your ass in front of others) instead of the task at hand, and two, because their status within the group is affecting their performance. Confidence matters, and it's hard to keep it up when you're working around assholes.
So, the more competitive the group is, the dumber some of its members will become. For the study, people with similar IQs were put into groups of five and ranked for their performance on mental tests. When the results were shown to the entire group, those who came out last started performing significantly worse for the next tests: They felt dumb compared to the rest, so they screwed up more than they would if they were working alone. The researchers believe that the same thing happens in more subtle ways in everyday life. Some people simply function better on their own.
"Can't we just handle this separately and talk about it later? I have work to do."
This gets even more complicated if your work group includes both men and women. Overall, the women in the study performed worse in a group setting than the men ... but you also have to take into account the fact that men in general turn into idiots just by being around women. No, seriously: Another study shows that men perform 14 percent more poorly on mental tasks when they think that a woman is watching them.
And no, the same thing didn't happen to women in the opposite scenario. We'll let you guess what made the difference there.