The best way to deal with failure

Buffalo Bills kicker Scott Norwood walks off the field after missing what would have been the game-winning field goal against the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXV. Chris O’Meara/AP Photo

Failure is a part of life, and we make mistakes pretty much every day. How do we cope? Or better yet, how should we cope?

Academics and the mainstream media tend to offer a simple solution: Don’t let it get to you and think about how things could have been worse.

These self-protective thoughts usually make you feel better. You move on.

But is it possible that popular wisdom is missing a bit of the puzzle? Does setting aside the negative emotions make you any less likely to repeat the mistake? Noelle Nelson, Baba Shiv and I decided to explore possible upsides of feeling bad about failure.

Feeling the pain

Even though they’re unpleasant, we feel negative emotions for a reason: They likely played an important role in human evolution and survival.

Negative emotions tell us to pay attention, signaling that something’s wrong – with our body, with our environment, with our relationships.

So if you avoid negative emotions, you also might be avoiding the thing that needs your attention. Could deciding to focus on the negative emotions associated with failure lead to thoughts about self-improvement – and, with time, actual improvement?

We designed a series of experiments to test this question…

[Read the full article here:]

Some graduation gifts really are better than others

By Selin Malkoc, full article at The Conversation and at Time.

Graduation season is upon us, and for many graduates, it’s a moment they’ll want to remember for the rest of their lives.

Yet families often wonder about the best way to mark this special occasion. The graduation gift, of course, is one way. But then comes the tough part: deciding on the gift.

I recently faced a (somewhat) similar predicament. I’d been promoted, and I wanted to treat myself. There was this ring I’d been coveting; but after a quick Google search for the best way to treat yourself, the recommendations were unanimous: Splurge on an experience – a trip or a retreat.

Just to make sure, I decided to approach my colleague Joseph Goodman, who has researched the relationship between purchases and happiness. He, too, suggested that I take a vacation to add another experience to my store of memories. After all, he and others have convincingly shown that experiences – rather than material goods – are more closely related to happiness.

Still, I had the nagging feeling that I’d be better off buying the ring. Was I just trying to find an excuse to buy something I’d wanted for a while? Or is there something else at play when we choose gifts, whether it’s for ourselves or others? Read the full article here:


7 Mother’s Day Gifts That You And Your Mom Can Enjoy Together

Mother’s Day Gifts That You Can Enjoy Together Mind-Body: Happiness from prevention.comIf you’re struggling to find a thoughtful Mother’s Day present for Mom, consider thinking outside the realm of material gifts.

But here’s the big question: What type of activity should you plan? While it may seem obvious, it should be an experience you think your mom will enjoy—not something that you’ve been trying to convince her to try for years (like that drawing class). Several studies have found that people’s favorite gifts are—no shock here—the ones that they actually want, says Joseph K. Goodman, assistant professor of marketing at Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University. (Find out which U.S. city you should travel to with this guide.)

Here are a few gift ideas that you and your mom are sure to love…full story at


Scheduling Leisure Activities Makes Them Less Fun

Fisher Faculty News

Nothing ruins a potentially fun event like putting it on your calendar.

In a series of studies, researchers found that scheduling a leisure activity like seeing a movie or taking a coffee break led people to anticipate less enjoyment and actually enjoy the event less than if the same activities were unplanned…

Planning Research Discussed on NBC Today Show

Around minute 41 minute mark, the Today show discusses Selin Malkoc’s research on how planning can take the fun out of leisure. It’s sandwiched between their discussions of celebration penalties in the NFL and a video of a guy boxing a Kangaroo to save his dog. Just another day on Today…


How making fun weekend plans can actually ruin your weekend

Selin Malkoc, The Ohio State University

Have you ever found yourself dreading a leisurely activity you had eagerly scheduled days or weeks in advance?

I first caught myself doing this a few years ago when I was traveling home to Turkey. I had excitedly made plans to meet up with some old friends. But to my surprise, as the date approached, I started to feel reluctant and unenthusiastic about these long-awaited reunions.

“I have to go get lunch with my friend,” I’d grouse to others, making it sound like a chore.

Was I an anomaly? Or do other people feel this way too?

Read the full full article here.

The Art of Making (and Not Making) Plans

New York Times


Adult life is full of commitments: bills to pay, family to see and a job you probably have to show up for. But in a world where many of us complain of being overscheduled, there’s something uniquely depressing about having no control over the time once quaintly called “personal” and “free.”

A recent study by The Ohio State University found that scheduling leisure time with friends — for movies, drinks, bike rides — can make these otherwise enjoyable activities feel like chores, which is often why we cancel them.

Other Media Mentions on this Research

For an interview on the topic, see BYU radio.

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