1. Study analyzes secrets of success of tourism entrepreneurs

    July 19, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Surrey press release:

    University of Surrey research into innovative entrepreneurs starting to work in tourism has found, in some of the first analysis undertaken, how they have to use initiative and hard work – and often work for nothing – to overcome the barriers in setting up their innovation.

    The researchers, who included University of Surrey’s Dr Isabel Rodriguez and Professor Allan Williams, described the research as vital because the innovation by entrepreneurs who are “new to tourism” is poorly understood.

    Dr Rodriguez said: “We were really interested in this essential area of research as we wanted to show that the innovation process in services, especially by new to tourism entrepreneurs, is a complex and experimental one.

    “The tourism entrepreneurs face many challenges and successfully overcame them by being highly dynamic and market-driven. We wanted to highlight how they succeeded doing this in an uncertain process.”

    Entrepreneurs use creative strategies to overcome these challenges and succeed despite their lack of financial and human resources. To keep afloat they can save money by running the business from home, “share” employees with other companies, offer a share of the business in return for specialist advice, as business owners work for less than market rates.

    Another of entrepreneurs’ key strategies to overcome the lack of resources was building ties and networks with different stakeholders, to ensure that the innovations are successfully developed and implemented.

    The research revealed some of the obstacles the entrepreneurs had to overcome. These included some areas of the tourism industry being behind the times when it came to using technology, which empowered the entrepreneur to apply technological knowledge to attract customers.

    Another issue for the entrepreneurs, who often had little or no relevant background in tourism, included getting the customer to adopt new technology that the industry was not familiar with, and ensuring acceptance of the innovation, for example by offering free trials. This often overcame the consumer resistance.

    This might include using apps to order food in a restaurant, to decide at a ski resort whether or not to ski that day, or to obtain unused hotel parking spaces when commuting.

    The entrepreneurs’ other successful techniques included ensuring that the customer was an integral part of the design of the product from the early days of the innovation process, and being flexible to the customers’ needs.

    The University of Surrey research showed that entrepreneurs needed particular characteristics and approaches to succeed, including using experimenting with their approach early in the process, and working with a functionally diverse team to utilise plenty of different skills. Another successful approach included carrying out many development activities concurrently rather than in a set sequence, to overcome problems as soon as they were encountered.

    Dr Rodriguez said: “This research sheds more light on how entrepreneurs are successfully using technology to transform the tourism sector despite any potential consumer resistance.

    “It highlights that entrepreneurs have to work hard to get their ideas to the market – but with perseverance and hard work they will successfully introduce innovations that make an impact in the tourism sector.”


  2. Knowing more about economic gains makes people less cooperative

    July 15, 2017 by Ashley

    From the WZB Berlin Social Science Center press release:

    Existing research suggesting that humans cooperate if they know more about their own payoffs has been rebutted: In the long run, access to information about payoff distributions leads to less cooperative behavior, finds a recent study in Nature Communications by Steffen Huck, Johannes Leutgeb (both WZB Berlin Social Science Center) and Ryan Oprea (University of California, Santa Barbara). The study also shows that knowledge about earning possibilities leads to smaller earnings in the long-run.

    In their research, Huck et al. looked at the learning behavior of humans who interact in a competitive economic environment. In an experiment, the researchers assigned participants randomly into 18 pairs and instructed them to play a simple computer game with their counterparts for 600 periods. After each round, participants won points which at the end of the game could be exchanged into real money.

    The researchers formed two groups of pairs: While in the first group (A) participants after each round only received information on which action the opponent player had chosen and how much points each player had gained, the second group (B) had access to more elaborate information: here, participants could see the potential payoffs they could have achieved through taking other actions. With the help of this information, participants of the second group could maximize their short-term gains much more easily than the participants in the first group.

    Players in group A, lacking further information, first applied simple strategies to choose their actions, e.g. by imitating the more successful choices of their counterparts. Over time, however, players in this group leaned towards more cooperative strategies, such as matching the counterpart’s action regardless of payoffs. Players in group B, on the contrary, held on to a strategy of maximizing their short-term profit by picking the best action against their opponent’s current action.

    As a result, participants with no access to payoff information were not only much more cooperative, they also generated significantly higher economic gains in the long-run: Median earnings in group A were 50% higher than in group B.

    These results show that payoff information is an advantage only in the short run but hampers the learning necessary to establish more successful cooperation between humans in the long run. Study leader Steffen Huck concludes: “Systems that focus human attention on short term gains, for example through large annual bonus payments, may have similar adverse side effects. Our research shows that human cooperation is not mainly driven by rational calculation, but rather by simple heuristics. Good organisations should foster these cooperative modes of behavior rather than highlight possibilities for higher individual earnings.”

    The study “Payoff information hampers the evolution of cooperation” by Steffen Huck, Johannes Leutgeb and Ryan Oprea was published in the journal Nature Communications.


  3. Study examines link between job stress, junk food and sleep

    July 10, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Michigan State University press release:

    Stress during the workday can lead to overeating and unhealthy food choices at dinnertime, but there could be a buffer to this harmful pattern.

    A good night’s sleep can serve as a protecting factor between job stress and unhealthy eating in the evening, indicates a new study co-authored by a Michigan State University scholar.

    The study, published online in the Journal of Applied Psychology, is one of the first to investigate how psychological experiences at work shape eating behaviors.

    “We found that employees who have a stressful workday tend to bring their negative feelings from the workplace to the dinner table, as manifested in eating more than usual and opting for more junk food instead of healthy food,” said Chu-Hsiang “Daisy” Chang, MSU associate professor of psychology and study co-author.

    “However, another key finding showed how sleep helped people deal with their stressful eating after work,” she added. “When workers slept better the night before, they tended to eat better when they experienced stress the next day.”

    The research involved two studies of 235 total workers in China. One study dealt with information-technology employees who regularly experienced high workload and felt there was never enough time in the workday. The second study involved call-center workers who often got stressed from having to deal with rude and demanding customers.

    In both cases, workday stress was linked to employees’ negative mood while on the job, which in turn was linked to unhealthy eating in the evening, said Yihao Liu, co-author and assistant professor at the University of Illinois.

    The study proposed two potential explanations, Liu said.

    “First, eating is sometimes used as an activity to relieve and regulate one’s negative mood, because individuals instinctually avoid aversive feelings and approach desire feelings,” he said. “Second, unhealthy eating can also be a consequence of diminished self-control. When feeling stressed out by work, individuals usually experience inadequacy in exerting effective control over their cognitions and behaviors to be aligned with personal goals and social norms.”

    Chang said the finding that sleep protects against unhealthy eating following workday stress shows how the health behaviors are related.

    “A good night’s sleep can make workers replenished and feel vigorous again, which may make them better able to deal with stress at work the next day and less vulnerable to unhealthy eating,” she said.

    To address the problem, companies should emphasize the importance of health management for their employees and consider sleep-awareness training and flexible scheduling.

    Companies should also reconsider the value of food-related job perks, which have become very common.

    “Food-related perks may only serve as temporary mood-altering remedies for stressed employees,” Chang said, “and failure to address the sources of the work stress may have potential long-term detrimental effects on employee health.”


  4. Study suggests cycling can help reduce stress, improve work performance

    July 9, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Concordia University press release:

    New research from Concordia’s John Molson School of Business (JMSB) has found that cycling can help reduce stress and improve your work performance.

    Researchers Stéphane Brutus, Roshan Javadian and Alexandra Panaccio compared how different modes of commuting — cycling, driving a car and taking public transport — affected stress and mood at work. The study was published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management.

    Its results indicate that cycling to work is a good way to have a good day, says Brutus, the lead author. “Employees who cycled to work showed significantly lower levels of stress within the first 45 minutes of work than those who travelled by car,” he says.

    The study did not, however, find any difference in the effect on mood.

    The research team collected data from 123 employees at Autodesk, an information technology company in Old Montreal, using a web-based survey. Respondents replied to questions about their mood, perceived commuting stress and mode of travel.

    The survey differentiated between perceived stress and mood, a more transient state affected by personality traits and emotions.

    The study only assessed answers from respondents who had completed the questionnaire within 45 minutes of arriving at work. This was done to get a more ‘in-the-moment’ assessment of employees’ stress and mood.

    Brutus notes that this time specification was the study’s major innovation.

    “Recent research has shown that early morning stress and mood are strong predictors of their effect later in the day,” he explains. “They can shape how subsequent events are perceived, interpreted and acted upon for the rest of the day.”

    He adds that the time specification ensured a more precise picture of stress upon arrival at work. Retrospective assessments can be coloured by stressors that occur later in the workday.

    The advantages of cycling

    “There are relatively few studies that compare the affective experiences of cyclists with those of car and public transport users,” says Brutus, an avid cyclist himself. “Our study was an attempt to address that gap.”

    At the same time, the team confirmed previous research that found that cyclists perceived their commute as being less stressful than those who travelled by car.

    Cycling has been shown to be a relatively inexpensive mode of transportation and a good form of physical activity. A 2015 study from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy found that cycling could help reduce CO2 emissions from urban passenger transportation by 11 per cent by 2050. It could also save society US$24 trillion globally between 2015 and 2050.

    Brutus points out that 6 per cent of Canadians cycled to work in 2011 and the number is only growing. However, Canada still lags behind many European countries.

    There is potential for public policy makers to seize on this, he adds.

    “With growing concerns about traffic congestion and pollution, governments are increasingly promoting non-motorized alternative modes of transport, such as walking and cycling. I can only hope that further studies will follow our lead and develop more precise and deliberate research into this phenomenon.”


  5. Researchers investigate the wisdom of crowds in realm of visual searches

    by Ashley

    From the University of California – Santa Barbara press release:

    Your doctor is an expert with many years of experience. So when she tells you, upon reviewing all the fancy tomographic imaging you had done, that the tenderness in your breast is just some minor irritation, you want to believe her and leave it at that.

    But is she right?

    According to researchers at UC Santa Barbara a second pair of eyes studying those same images looks to be more beneficial than previously thought when searching for hard-to-find objects in a “noisy” field — especially when that searcher is under time pressure and other constraints. The scientists’ findings, detailed in the paper “The Wisdom of Crowds for Visual Search,” are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    “We show that the benefits in having more people do the task will be larger when individuals cannot exhaustively search the entire image,” said Mordechai Juni, a postdoctoral researcher in UCSB’s Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences and lead author of the study conducted with Professor Miguel Eckstein. In a fast-paced world with increasing amounts of visual information — closed-circuit TV, geospatial imaging and medical tomography, to name a few — tapping into the wisdom of crowds might be especially useful. Each individual is unlikely to look at all regions of all images.

    The study builds on a longstanding concept that the aggregated answers of a large group of people are usually more accurate than the response of a single expert. A classic example occurred at an English county fair in 1907, when the averaged estimates of a crowd of people vying to guess the weight of an ox came closer than those of each individual entry, including those of cattle experts.

    “It appears then, in this particular instance, that the vox populi is correct to within one per cent of the real value,” concluded Sir Francis Galton, who conducted that study.

    The benefit of the “wisdom of crowds” has been found in human judgments in the domains of estimation, detection (where the location of the target is familiar), identification and prediction. However, until now, the value of that phenomenon with regard to visual search had not been well studied.

    In this preliminary work, the researchers used an eye-tracking device to record the visual scan paths of a group of undergraduate students. They did so first with a search task (requiring a yes or no response to the presence of a hard-to-find object anywhere on a field), then a single-location task (requiring a yes or no response to the presence of a hard-to-detect object in a fixed and known position on a field). Their results demonstrated that the aggregated responses — weighted with the observers’ confidence — in the search task showed better than expected performance compared to the single-location task.

    “In the single-location task, all observers are looking at the exact location where the hard-to-detect object might be, and so they are all processing the same visual information,” said Juni. “But in the search task, observers’ scan paths take different patterns, and those who happen to gaze directly at the hard-to-find object tend to be highly confident that it is present — because the object is easy to detect when fixated — whereas those who do not gaze directly at the object tend to respond that it is absent, because the object is very difficult to detect in the visual periphery.”

    The greater benefits for the search task, Juni explained, are “dependent on tapping into the very high confidence of those in the group who happened to gaze directly at the object.”

    In this search scenario, the researchers say, the ‘wisdom of crowds’ is more nuanced than simple majority voting, which is highly effective in single-location tasks when the relevant information is present and accessible to all.

    “As long as there’s some element of individual knowledge that we could tap into, you could do really well, and maybe even close to optimal in terms of the group performance,” Juni said. He cited Condorcet’s jury theorem, which indicates that if voters are more likely than not to give correct answers individually, the chance of collectively arriving at the correct answer via majority voting increases with group size.

    But, in scenarios where individuals are more likely than not to give incorrect answers (due to, say, erroneous or lack of information), increasing group size might be detrimental for majority voting as even experts who tend to give correct answers will be swept away with the minority.

    In many real-world scenarios where visual search is employed, the tendency toward error is present, whether it’s lack of time to perform exhaustive searches, lack of resolution in the images, too large a search field or too many images to search through. Think: search-and-rescue of planes downed in the ocean, military surveillance during times of conflict, or physicians dealing with an exponential rise in the number of images per exam.

    “In those cases, majority voting would be ineffective, whereas the averaged responses of a group of observers could be very beneficial if those who happen to gaze directly at the searched-for-object express very high confidence that they found it,” Juni said.

    “The next step is to verify and see if this actually happens with the large data volumes of modern 3D medical image technology,” said Eckstein. The results might raise questions over how medical diagnoses are made in the U.S. and other countries that do not typically perform multiple independent readings to find, say, breast cancer as they do in much of Europe, Australia and New Zealand. According to the researchers, combining responses from multiple readings with technologies that generate many images per exam could result in considerable gains.

    “We think some of this work could potentially cause us to rethink how we should do it in the U.S. for newer 3D imaging technologies,” Juni said.


  6. Taking stock early on is crucial for working late in life

    by Ashley

    From the University of Gothenburg press release:

    Do you want to keep working until you’re 70, or even 75? Then, it’s good to give this some thought before you turn 50. New research now calls for early planning, and at the same time shoots down prejudices against working seniors.

    “We initially believed that people who worked late in life had an arranged situation that they just stepped into. That they, for example, handled the bookkeeping for the family’s market garden or continued on in the academic world based on their previous position. But, that was not the case. One of our central findings was instead that they began changing their career relatively early on. Completely free, beyond contemporary norms, and often without role models,” says Kerstin Wentz, PhD researcher and licensed psychologist at the department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Sahlgrenska Academy and University Hospital.

    The study, published in the Journal of Business and Economics, is based on qualitative interviews in focus groups of five to eight people, all ranging in age from 69 to 75 and actively working at least part-time 50%. A total of 43 people participated in four locations in Västra Götaland.

    Kerstin Wentz and her colleague Kristina Gyllensten, Dpsych researcher and licensed psychologist at the department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, handled different focus groups in the study, and then made the analysis together.

    The common denominator of the participants was that they had already taken stock of their future working situation when they were middle aged. For some, it was at their own discretion while for others it was because they worked in industries where job security was questionable. Many changed gears and were self-employed or worked as a consultant, while those who remained employees began what researchers call career crafting. Work was an aspect of how they flourished as a human being, and the choices they made were based on joy and job satisfaction.

    Learning and flexibility

    “They took themselves seriously and thought about what they wanted out of life. They acted proactively and maintained their ability to grow and learn new things. One had earned chainsaw certificate at the age of 70, while the scholars of the study continued taking courses even in advanced years. They worked with exactly what they wanted to and said no to everything else, continuously crafting and being flexible without being jerky,” says Kerstin Wentz.

    In the Swedish job market, older people are a minority that is expected to grow. Despite this, there are no qualitative studies in this area according to Kerstin Wentz. The purpose of this research was to explore living experiences of ongoing and successful participation in working life, and illuminate socioeconomic and psychological processes.

    The participants in the study often encountered an environment that had little understanding for them. While family members were on board with it, their peers would sometimes ask whether they were ever going to stop working. However, the participants thought that combining a part-time job with an active social life meant more to them than moving abroad, for example. They felt that life without a job meant a risk of getting bored.

    Change of direction at 45

    “Our interviewees were exceptionally creative and were part of a group that chose to keep working before it became politically correct. But, society needs structures in place so that more people have the opportunity to change direction at a relatively early age. We should have vocational counseling and individual evaluation for 45-year-olds the same as we have for teenagers. We think this is a must if we want people to be able to work longer,” says Kerstin Wentz.

    Another change she wants to see relates to the right to take out student loans, which is currently limited to age 47. She thinks that ten years or more should be added to give people more freedom and control.

    Self-determination combined with enjoying your work favors recovery. Being able to control is, in and of itself, resource generating — all while working,” she states.


  7. Study suggests authenticity key to landing a new job

    July 8, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University College London press release:

    At job interviews, relax and be yourself — if you’re good, being yourself may be the best way to secure a job offer, according to a new study involving UCL researchers.

    Published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, the study by UCL, Bocconi University, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and London Business School, found that high-quality candidates who strive to present themselves accurately during the interview process significantly increase the likelihood of receiving a job offer.

    “People are often encouraged to only present the best aspects of themselves at interview so they appear more attractive to employers, but what we’ve found is that high-quality candidates — the top 10% — fare much better when they present who they really are. Unfortunately, the same isn’t true for poorer quality candidates who can actually damage their chances of being offered the job by being more authentic,” explained co-author Dr SunYoung Lee (UCL School of Management).

    The research focused on the concept of ‘self-verification‘, which refers to individuals’ drive to be known and understood by others according to their firmly held beliefs and feelings about themselves.

    To date, self-verifying behaviour was known to positively influence outcomes that unfold over time, such as the process of integration in a new organization. This paper shows, for the first time, that self-verification can have important effects in short-term interpersonal interactions as well, as in the hiring process.

    Lead author, Dr Celia Moore (Bocconi University), said: “In a job interview, we often try to present ourselves as perfect. Our study proves this instinct wrong. Interviewers perceive an overly polished self-representation as inauthentic and potentially misrepresentative. But ultimately, if you are a high-quality candidate, you can be yourself on the job market. You can be honest and authentic. And if you are, you will be more likely to get a job.” The researchers conducted three studies — two field studies looking at the importance of self-verification for groups of professionals applying for different jobs and a third experimental study testing the mechanism behind the effects observed.

    In the two field studies, prior to job interviews, candidates reported their self-verification drive, and their quality was evaluated in face-to-face interviews. The results of the studies were normalised for gender, age and race.

    The first study investigated a sample of 1,240 teachers from around the globe who applied for placements in the U.S. The candidates that had been evaluated as high quality had a 51% likelihood of receiving a placement, but this increased to 73% for those who also had a strong drive to self-verify. The second study replicated this effect in a radically different sample by assessing 333 lawyers applying for positions in a branch of the U.S. military. For this group, high quality candidates increased their chances of receiving a job offer five-fold, from 3% to 17%, if they also had a strong drive to self-verify. This effect was only seen in high-quality candidates, and for those rated as low-quality, the drive to self-verify weakened their position. The third study was designed to test the mechanism behind this effect. For this, the researchers surveyed 300 people on their self-verification striving and selected those who were extremely high and extremely low in the distribution. The individuals participated in a mock job interview, which were then transcribed and submitted to text analysis.

    It revealed differences in candidates’ language use as a function of their self-verification drive. People with a strong self-verification drive communicated in a more fluid way about themselves, and were ultimately perceived as more authentic and less misrepresentative. The team say that these perceptions ultimately explain why high-self-verifying candidate can flourish on the job market.


  8. In organizations, bullying begets whining, study finds

    by Ashley

    From the Northern Illinois University press release:

    It has been said that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Now new research suggests that such a dynamic can play out in organizations, where bullying within decision-making groups appears to go hand in hand with whining.

    Northern Illinois University researchers surveyed 234 study participants, whose jobs included team decision-making, about their perceptions of the personal dynamics within groups. The researchers found a significant and positive correlation between bullying and whining.

    “There’s a tendency for bullying and whining to be used in conjunction with one another,” says researcher David Henningsen, an NIU professor of communication who studies idiosyncratic forms of persuasion within organizations. “In other words, when some people act dominant by bullying, others respond by being submissive and whining.”

    Neither bullying nor whining was perceived by the study participants as being frequently used to exert influence, but when present, the tactics appear to feed off each other.

    “The higher the perception of bullying within a group, the higher the perception of whining,” Henningsen said.

    Henningsen and his wife, NIU communication professor Mary Lynn Miller Henningsen, teamed up on the study, published recently in the International Journal of Business Communication.

    Study participants filled out online questionnaires measuring their perceptions of dynamics in decision-making groups at their jobs. On a six-point scale, they rated statements such as, “People act aggressively to try to force others to accept their position,” and “People often pout to try to get others to agree with them.”

    The researchers also found that both reported bullying and whining behaviors negatively impacted group perceptions of cohesiveness and decision-making effectiveness.

    While little research has been done on the use of whining as a social-influence tactic, the researchers say it should be considered an aggressive tactic.

    “We liken the whiners to the Eeyores of a group,” Mary Lynn Miller Henningsen said, referencing the gloomy donkey in Winnie-the-Pooh stories. “When he needs help, Eeyore likes to express his emotions to friends in a way that evokes pity and spurs them to help.

    “Likewise, whining can be used to sway members of a group,” she added. “Whiners attempt to gain influence by positioning themselves as deserving of consideration because their positions have been denied in the past. So they try to leverage weakness into pity to induce compliance. The assumption is that regardless of whether the whiners supported their positions in the past, the fact that they have a pattern of losing suggests they should be allowed to win.”

    Conversely, Lucy Van Pelt from Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” comic strip demonstrates classic bullying behavior.

    “In decision-making groups, bullying occurs when someone uses a loud, aggressive or critical tone to intimidate or coerce others,” David Henningsen said.

    The positive correlation found between bullying and whining indicates the behaviors might be inter-related through a process known as “dominance complementarity,” whereby dominant behaviors by one individual lead to corresponding submissive behaviors by another.

    “This is important research because group decision-making is by far the most common way decisions are made in organizations,” David Henningsen said. “And these types of behaviors can derail group meetings and lead to suboptimal decisions.”

    Henningsen suggests three ways to deal with or prevent bullying and whining:

    1) Focus on facts, logic and data that speak to the problem and its solution.

    2) Recognize that both bullying and whining are aggressive and non-productive behaviors. “Many people bully or whine without realizing it,” Henningsen said. “Self-recognition of a negative behavior is the first step toward correcting it.”

    3) Don’t let the behaviors spiral and escalate.


  9. Feelings of power change people’s non-verbal responses to dominance displays

    July 5, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Kent press release:

    Feelings of power determine how people respond non-verbally to dominance displays such as a staring gaze, new research led by a psychologist at the University of Kent, UK, has found.

    People tend to shy away from individuals who display domineering behaviour such as a staring gaze. These instinctive reactions to others’ dominance displays are assumed to have evolutionary roots and help establish hierarchical relations in humans and other species.

    But the new findings, by Dr Mario Weick of Kent’s School of Psychology, along with Dr Cade McCall of the University of York, UK, and Professor Jim Blascovich, of the University of California at Santa Barbara, USA, show that reactions to staring gaze displays can be changed when people feel powerful. The research was conducted using fully immersive virtual environments and involved participants walking around computer-rendered human characters that in some instances stared at the participants, and in other instances looked elsewhere.

    In one study, participants were made to feel powerful or powerless before entering the virtual world. In another study, the researchers varied participants’ body height in the virtual world to make participants feel more or less powerful during interactions with shorter and taller virtual human characters. Throughout the task, the researchers used motion tracking to measure participants’ movements and the distance kept to the human characters. The researchers found that participants moved closer towards staring onlookers, but only when they felt powerful; otherwise they moved away. Feelings of power did not change participants’ behaviour towards human characters that looked elsewhere.

    Dr Weick explained that the team’s findings advance our understanding of how social relations are manifested non-verbally. One of the functions of eye gaze is to communicate and thereby regulate social relations and interactions, which includes hierarchical relations of dominance and control, he said. Responding boldly to the staring gaze of onlookers may give people with fleeting experiences of power an upper hand in competitive situations such as negotiations or job interviews, Dr Weick noted.


  10. Study suggests hiding true self harms career and sense of belonging

    by Ashley

    From the University of Exeter press release:

    Hiding your true self at work can damage your career and reduce your sense of belonging in the workplace, a new study suggests.

    University of Exeter researchers examined “stigmatised” characteristics — being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), or having a history of poverty or mental or physical illness.

    They found that concealing such characteristics from colleagues resulted in lower self-esteem, job satisfaction and commitment at work.

    “People may choose to conceal stigmatised identities because they want to be accepted, but in fact doing so reduces feelings of belonging,” said Professor Manuela Barreto of the University of Exeter.

    “When someone conceals their true identity, their social interactions suffer — and this has an impact not just on the individual but also on the organisation they work for.

    “Our findings suggest that openness about one’s identity is often beneficial for stigmatised individuals, the stigmatised group and their workplace.”

    Despite highlighting the costs of concealment, the researchers do not suggest that everyone must be open in all contexts.

    “It is clear that there are times when revealing a stigmatised identity can be very costly,” said Dr Anna Newheiser of the University at Albany, SUNY in the USA.

    “Those effects are very real and worth avoiding in certain circumstances, but it is important to realise that there is also a cost to hiding your true self.”

    The paper highlights the “hidden ramifications of prejudice,” which harm both individuals and organisations.

    “What we need are environments where people don’t need to hide — inclusive environments where people don’t have to make a choice between being liked and being authentic,” Professor Barreto added.

    Workplaces that push individuals to hide their differences do not erase difference — they simply encourage masking and concealment of diversity.

    “Given that identity concealment is by nature an invisible act, its social and organisational costs may also be difficult to detect, explain and correct.”

    The researchers report studies carried out in the Netherlands and the USA.

    In one, participants were encouraged to remember a time when they either concealed or revealed a stigmatised characteristic about themselves.

    In the other, participants were presented with fictional scenarios that either involved concealing or revealing their stigmatised identity. In both studies, participants were asked how they would feel after concealing or revealing the stigmatised characteristic.

    The paper, published in the Journal of Social Issues, is entitled: “People Like Me Don’t Belong Here: Identity Concealment Is Associated with Negative Workplace Experiences.”