Inside Your Head Episode 8

In my introduction, I talk about the necessity of exercising caution when reading self-help books, especially those penned by big-name celebrities and overnight successes. Even if written with a genuine desire to help others, the author may look back on their path to success with confirmation bias (or survivorship bias) which can seriously skew the usefulness of the text. An important thing to realise about the apparent evidence of their route to success is that correlation does not equal causation (you can read some amusing examples here and a very good explanation in connection with data here). And of course, remember that if the advice in these books worked all the time, there would be a great many more millionaires and happy marriages than there actually are.

I also give a clue about the subject matter for the next episode’s introduction, inspired by a conversation with a friend.

The main interview is with Dr Roger Bretherton from the University of Lincoln with whom I discuss the growing field of Character Strength and Positive Psychology. Roger does most of his work addressing businesses and large organisations, helping them to get the best from their employees but also, critically, forcing the management to take responsibility for how their own strengths and attitudes affect the organisation and employee performance.

There is an online questionnaire that you might like to take (I did) at The VIA Institute on Character website – like me, you can just get the free report if you don’t fancy paying for a more in-depth version. But I think you might find the results fascinating, and it will certainly help you to get the most from my conversation with Roger.

We also talk about the differences between traditional psychology, and its approach which focuses on repairing damage, and the new and growing field of positive psychology, which aims to focus on the character strengths and positive aspects of the client/patient’s personality, enabling them to build greater resilience and to gain greater overall satisfaction from life.

Our conversation also touches briefly on different approaches to spirituality and even imposter syndrome! I really enjoyed this conversation with Roger and I think you will find him a stimulating guest to listen to.

In the Relaxation on the Beach guided meditation, we work on forgiveness towards others for their failings and transgressions that have hurt us, and we also seek forgiveness for ourselves for any hurt we may have caused others, however inadvertently. Be aware that it might be a good idea to think about less difficult situations to begin with, working up to tackling issues with more difficult or important people in your life after trying this a couple of times.

Resources and bonus material for this show

Confirmation bias
Survivorship bias
Mental Floss: 10 Times Correlation Was Not Causation
Towards Data Science: 4 Reasons Why Correlation Does NOT Imply Causation

Dr Roger Bretherton from the University of Lincoln
Questionnaire on the VIA Institute of Character website
The God Lab: 8 spiritual experiments you can try at homePositive Psychology (Wikipedia)

 

The Relaxation on the Beach segment from this episode.