New podcast: Emotions, expectations and behaviour

New podcast: Emotions, expectations and behaviour




Interview with Maya Tamir

David Wilkinson:          So, welcome to The Oxford Review video podcast. Today, I’d like to welcome Maya Tamir. She’s in Israel, and she’s done a very interesting paper, you’ve got the briefing about it: How expectations influence how emotions shape behavior.

David Wilkinson:          Can you just take a couple of minutes to introduce yourself, kind of give the listeners a bit of a background to your personal journey sofar, and something about your academic history, and how you got to here in terms of your research interests.

Maya Tamir:                 Sure. I did my undergraduate degree in psychology and management in Tel Aviv University, a long time ago. And then I did my PhD at the University of Illinois, in the U.S. After that, I did a postdoc with James Gross at the University of Stanford.

David Wilkinson:          Ah, [crosstalk 00:01:19].

Maya Tamir:                 Focusing specifically on emotion regulation. I then got a job at Boston College, where I was faculty member for four years. And then I moved back to Israel and joined the Hebrew University here.

David Wilkinson:          Okay. Fantastic.

Maya Tamir:                 In terms of how I got to studying emotions. I mean for me, emotions has always been the most interesting thing, not just as a psychologist, but just as a person living in the world.

David Wilkinson:          Yes.

Maya Tamir:                 I was always amazed by how, I guess, how much of what’s meaningful in the world somehow is connected to emotions and I wondered how this incredibly powerful thing influences us, what it does, how it does it? I’ve always felt, before I actually started studying emotions, that these things are … you know that they guide and drive us more than we sometimes want them to.

David Wilkinson:          Yes.

Maya Tamir:                 And so I wanted to understand the mechanisms. And, of course, now I think about emotions in a very different way, but that’s how I got to studying emotions.

David Wilkinson:          Yes, interesting.

Maya Tamir:                 Most of my research actually deals with emotion regulation, but I’ve always been incredibly curious about emotions. The very, very key question of how it works, which brings us here.

David Wilkinson:          Yes, brilliant. Yeah, I hadn’t realized that you actually worked with James Gross. He’s a big hero of mine, and he’s very prolific in the area-

Maya Tamir:                 And rightly so.

David Wilkinson:          … of emotion regulation. I wish I had a citation record like his. So-

Maya Tamir:                 He’s one-of-a-kind. He’s a wonderful person.

David Wilkinson:          … Yes. Yes. I’ve met him once, and he’s very generous with his time and his knowledge. Okay, brilliant. Can you just give us a quick overview as to how you ended up doing this particular, because this paper’s actually three studies.

Maya Tamir:                 Mm-hmm (affirmative).

David Wilkinson:          How you ended up doing this series of studies, and what led to that?

Maya Tamir:                 Yeah. So, I’m particularly interested, as I mentioned before, in emotion regulation. I’ve always been curious about how people … why do people want to feel certain emotions and not others. A lot of the work that I do, focuses on the idea that people may be motivated to regulate their emotions in different ways.

Maya Tamir:                 Sometimes, we wanna feel good. Sometimes we don’t wanna feel good. And so, I’ve been curious … I wanted to understand why that is? And so, I, like I think many emotion researchers and most people, lay people who don’t study emotion, always assume that emotions do certain things.

Maya Tamir:                 That certain emotions do certain things in a fixed way. That when we’re angry, we then become aggressive, and when we’re afraid, we then run away, and when we’re happy, then we’re more creative. That’s been my assumption, like many others.

Maya Tamir:                 I was curious howcome some people wanna feel fear, and some people don’t wanna feel fear. Could it be that some people are just right in knowing which emotions are good, and other people are just wrong. They think that some emotion is beneficial to them, but actually it isn’t.

Maya Tamir:                 So then, I realized from my research that some people wanna feel emotions and some people don’t wanna feel these emotions, and that people seem to benefit from emotions in different ways. And so I wanted to know, could it be that what emotions do is not necessarily fixed?

Maya Tamir:                 Now I know, because I studied emotion regulation, that some people expect emotions to help them, and some people may expect the same emotion to harm them. So some people expect anger to be useful in a certain situation, and some people think that anger will be harmful for them. And so I wanted to know, “Well, let’s see if they’re right?” And what I found, when I just looked at the effects of emotions, is that these effects are not very stable, that they vary and they’re not fixed.

Maya Tamir:                 And so I thought, “What if, just like placebo, what we believe that emotions do for us, actually ends up shaping what emotions do for us?” And so it’s not the case that people are right or wrong about what emotions really do, it’s that what emotions really do kind of depends on what we expect them to do. And so that’s how I got to the series of studies.

David Wilkinson:          Yeah, that’s fascinating kind of set of thinking, I suppose, to kind of get there. One of the things that interest me in what you were just saying is, about this idea of … kind of going back a bit, just, people actually wanting not to feel good.

Maya Tamir:                 Mm-hmm (affirmative).

David Wilkinson:          That’s kind of a surprise to a lot of people, because people kind of make this assumption that everybody wants to feel good, but actually, because one of the things you talk about in the paper is about expectancy and goal-seeking behavior. Could you just talk us through that, why would somebody want to not feel good, for example?

Maya Tamir:                 Sure. So, when you asked me how I got to studying emotions, I began by saying that emotions always attracted me as something fascinating, because they seem to influence us in a variety of ways. In addition to making us feel good, or feel bad, they also seem to drive us to different types of behaviors, or different mode of thinking, or even, they seem to shape how we interact with other people in very meaningful ways.

Maya Tamir:                 A key assumption in emotion research is that emotions are generally, not always of course, but they’re generally functional in the sense that they can lead to outcomes that are useful. This is true for both pleasant and unpleasant emotions. There’s a reason, potentially, for us having emotions like anger and fear, because these emotions can serve us in very specific ways when we need them to. So conceptually, anger can help us actually right a wrong, by propelling us to stand up for ourselves, and fear help us escape danger.

Maya Tamir:                 And so, theoretically, both pleasant and unpleasant emotions can be useful in certain situations. Now, the question of course is, do we take utility into account when we engage in self regulation? And of course, if we put emotion aside, and I ask you the same question, you would say, “Of course we do.” I mean, that’s the very key of self regulation, right?

Maya Tamir:                 We sit and study for exams, even though it’s not fun, because we care about the grade and what happens with our profession, right? We sit and write reviews, or sit on projects at work, even late into the night, even if they’re not fun and prepare reports because it’s gonna be beneficial in the end. We go to the dentist, even though it’s not fun, because we expect a benefit.

Maya Tamir:                 And so the key component of self regulation is, “I’m willing not to feel pleasant right now, in order to maximize utility.”

David Wilkinson:          Yeah.

Maya Tamir:                 And so, all I did is say, “Well, why isn’t this true for emotions as well?” Could it be that there’s some cases where we want to feel an unpleasant emotion now, because its useful. Now, if you ask me, “But how could negative emotions possibly be useful?”

Maya Tamir:                 Well, think about a situation that people in organizations encounter very frequently when we need to negotiate. When we need to negotiate a deal, or when we need to negotiate a raise with our boss, do we wanna feel very, very calm and pleasant, or do we wanna say, “Hey, there’s something here that is rightfully mine, and I need to fight for it.”

Maya Tamir:                 Now, what kind of mental state would be useful for you when you need to fight for something? Well, I think the answer, by the way, is, “Whatever you think is the right state of mind,” but that’s a slightly different question. But you can see how anger, when you need to fight for something, could be something that you may be motivated to feel.

Maya Tamir:                 And there are similar situations where sadness or fear could be useful and we may be motivated to feel them in order to gain some temporary benefit.

David Wilkinson:          Yeah, and certainly, from some of the work that I’ve been doing, kind of some of the maladaptive behaviors that we see in people, where people are driving themselves into, not just fearful states, but depressive type states in order for some form of, as you say, some kind of utility, they see a payoff.

David Wilkinson:          So, one of my big heroes in terms of therapy for example is, I don’t know whether you’ve come across Frank Farrelly?

Maya Tamir:                 Mm-hmm (affirmative).

David Wilkinson:          He’s very interesting. One of the things he was talking about was … So, he’s seeing patients, in terms of emotion regulation. He said he was watching some of his patients arrive, and they seemed quite fine walking across the car lot, getting into the building, going up to his room, waiting in the anti-room.

David Wilkinson:          It wasn’t until they walked into the room, suddenly they started to emote and he started to realize that it was having a utility. They wanted him to believe something, and therefor they started to feel that emotion and portray it. Whereas in other sets of circumstances, in other situations, they wouldn’t portray it, because it wasn’t serving some kind of utility. It kind of feels a bit weird to say that sometimes we kind of put on sadness, or something, for that kind of utility.

Maya Tamir:                 We have a beautiful paper, and now, additional work that’s gonna come out-

David Wilkinson:          Oh.

Maya Tamir:                 … showing that depressed people want to feel more sad, than non-depressed people. In our conversation, it’s something that you and I find quite intuitive.

David Wilkinson:          Yes.

Maya Tamir:                 But most people are not only … they don’t find this intuitive for people who are not depressed, but they find it especially surprising, when you think about depressed people, because if there’s anyone in the world who should not want to feel sad, it’s people who are clinically depressed.

Maya Tamir:                 But if you give people, who are clinically depressed the opportunity to regulate their emotions, in whichever direction they choose, and you teach them the most effective strategy and they understand how to use it, what we find in the laboratory, and actually outside the laboratory now too, they use these tools that you give them to increase or maintain their sadness, rather than to decrease it. They choose actively not to increase their happiness.

Maya Tamir:                 I think that the reason is that there’s … when you see yourself as a sad person, there’s some utility in hanging on to that identity that you’ve developed that is, “I’m a sad person.” And all of a sudden, “When I feel happy,” you look at yourself in the mirror and you say, “Wait a minute, this is not me, this is something else,” right?

David Wilkinson:          Yes.

Maya Tamir:                 So we have an entire line of clinical work showing that people are motivated to feel various emotions and some of this motivation is driven by how they see themselves as sad, or as happy, or even as angry people.

Maya Tamir:                 So there are all kinds of benefits that we can gain from our emotions, and we’re motivated to feel emotions that optimize these benefits, whether they are behavioral benefits, so emotions can influence our behavior, whether they are epistemic benefits, “Who am I, and what is this world about?” And whether they’re social benefits, “How is this emotion gonna influence the person in front of me, and how is this gonna influence the relationship?”

Maya Tamir:                 And this leads people to seek emotions that are either pleasant, or unpleasant. Now, the question though is, are people right, or are people wrong? And this is where we get to the next set of studies that you wanted us to chat about.

David Wilkinson:          Right. Can you just explain what you mean, “Are people right, or are people wrong?” What do you mean by that?

Maya Tamir:                 So the question is, can we say, “Well, depressed people who choose to be sad simply don’t understand that sadness has no benefits.” And we can choose that approach. Do we say, “People who expect sadness to make them more creative, are simply wrong.”

David Wilkinson:          [crosstalk 00:14:59]

Maya Tamir:                 Because we know that happiness and excitement makes people creative.

David Wilkinson:          Yes.

Maya Tamir:                 Do we say, “People who expect anger to make them less aggressive, are simply wrong,” because we know what anger does, anger leads to aggression. And so, if we wanna try to improve emotion regulation, or optimize the way that people use their emotions in daily life, whether in the workplace or outside the workplace, we need to teach people what emotions actually do.

Maya Tamir:                 And then, they will be motivated to seek emotions that really [inaudible 00:15:36] them, and they’ll do better. So this is a really, really fundamental question about, “Well, what is the nature of emotions? What do emotions actually do?” Yeah.

David Wilkinson:          Yeah, that’s really interesting, because one of the things that I got interested in a few years ago was, psychological pay-off. So, what individuals expect the pay-off to be starts to drive the emotion, or they start to change the emotion in the direction of the pay-off. So if they think they’re going to get sympathy and some help, and that’s what they’re looking for, their goal is that, then they’ll go into that set of behaviors and that set of behaviors can actually start to bring on things like depression, whatever it happens to be, or they get stuck in that set of emotion. The connections between the emotions and the behavior, is a kind of a habit.

Maya Tamir:                 Right.

David Wilkinson:          And that becomes actually, clinically quite a problem, because that habit gets stronger and stronger, and harder to break as time goes on. Yeah, that’s really interesting. So, could we just go back to the paper that actually we’re talking about, about how expectations influence and shape behavior. Can you just talk us through the three studies very quickly and what you actually did, Maya?

Maya Tamir:                 Our key question was: could it be that emotions don’t have a one-to-one connection with behavior, but rather, that the way that emotions influence behavior is much more complex than that? And that people learn from experience how emotions typically shape behavior, in daily life, and they develop these expectations about how emotions are likely to influence behavior. And then, once they have an expectation, by the way, this expectation could come from a variety of sources, like our culture, for example.

Maya Tamir:                 Once they have that expectation, like many other expectations that influence many other outcomes, this expectation then influences how their emotional experiences actually shape their behavior. I mentioned before, the placebo effect. And so the idea is that, emotions could be a little bit like placebo when we expect them to work in a certain way, they do end up working in a certain way.

Maya Tamir:                 And so, what we did in a series of studies is, test this empirically. Now, how do you test a question like this? Well, if you wanna know whether expectations influence the way that emotions shape behavior, you need to first of all, manipulate expectations about what certain emotions are likely to do. You have to manipulate emotional states, to see whether there’s a causal effect of emotions on behavior. And then you have to measure behavior in an objective way.

Maya Tamir:                 Otherwise, any type of … whatever people say about their behavior, could just be a way of rationalizing or explaining an association that isn’t really there. So, what we did in the studies, we tried to think about contexts in which we assume emotions to influence behavior in a certain way. Contexts in which we know we can assess behavior objectively. And then we manipulated emotions, we manipulated beliefs and we measured the influence of emotions on subsequent behavior.

Maya Tamir:                 I can give you one example of one of the three studies. We all know, obviously, that anger leads to aggression. Not only do we all know this, as a culture, not only do we all share this cultural assumption, but I myself ran a study where the entire study was based on this very idea, because I wanted to show, in a study a long time ago, that people wanna be angry when they think that anger is gonna be beneficial to them.

Maya Tamir:                 So I said, “Well let’s have people play a computer game.” And unfortunately for all of us, I think personally, there are a lot of very, very aggressive games out there, where the goal in the game is to kill as many players in the game, like virtual players in the game, as you possibly can and you get points for each person that you kill, and you walk around with a gun. It’s called, “The first person shooter.” I discovered that for the purpose of this study.

Maya Tamir:                 Anyway … Right, so you walk around-

David Wilkinson:          Amazing.

Maya Tamir:                 … You can see how narrow my world is. You walk around with guns-

David Wilkinson:          I’ll bet. I’ve done a similar study.

Maya Tamir:                 … and you kill people to get points. And so I thought, “Well, this is a wonderful platform to test ideas about what anger does.” And we actually got people angry in the lab. We had them listen to heavy metal, and there’s a great reason why we made people angry-

David Wilkinson:          That’s fantastic.

Maya Tamir:                 … by listening to “angry” music. We did that because we wanted to make sure that we’re not telling them anything about anger. We’re not using words, because words are ideas, and so if we change ideas, we change how people think, but not necessarily how people feel.

Maya Tamir:                 So we used music that’s entirely instrumental, and we got them kind of irritated, and we know this because they told us that that’s how they felt. And then we had them play the first person shooter. We saw that people who were angrier actually did kill more people.

David Wilkinson:          Oh, wow.

Maya Tamir:                 Yeah, in the game. So I said, “Well, why did we kill more people in the game?” It could be that it is really because anger makes people more aggressive, or because all these people, as I actually know because I asked them, they expected anger to kill more people.

Maya Tamir:                 So in this study, in the paper that we’re talking about, I took the very same task and people were told that they’re gonna play a game, and then we told them, you know, we gave them bogus, to manipulate their expectations, we gave them bogus information from presumably prior participants in the game.

Maya Tamir:                 And so they got little inputs saying, “You know, to do well in this game, you have to be really focused,” which makes a lot of sense and it’s entirely unrelated to emotions. But some of these little inputs said something like, “I arrived at this game and I was really irritated because of something that happened on the way to the lab and then I did really well in the task.”

David Wilkinson:          Oh, okay.

Maya Tamir:                 So we gently … We insert the idea-

David Wilkinson:          The [crosstalk 00:22:12].

Maya Tamir:                 … that anger could be beneficial. And this is basically what we did to make them, potentially, expect anger to be useful in that task.

David Wilkinson:          Indeed.

Maya Tamir:                 So some people were told this thing, and some people were told that either anger is unrelated, or that anger can be harmful. And then we induced anger in some people, by having them listen to the angry music, and other people listened to neutral music that did not get them angry. And then we had them play the game where they’re … It’s a first person shooter-

David Wilkinson:          Fantastic.

Maya Tamir:                 … you get a virtual gun, and you have to kill everybody around you. We counted the number of people that were killed.

David Wilkinson:          Ah!

Maya Tamir:                 Many people who study emotion would say, “Anger leads to aggression, and therefor whether you expect anger to help you, whether you don’t expect anger to help you, that shouldn’t make any difference whatsoever on what anger actually does. People who are angry should be more violent than people who are not.”

Maya Tamir:                 But that’s not what we found. What we found is that the impact of anger on aggression was dependent on what people expected anger to do. People who expected anger to help them, killed more people than people who did not expect anger to help them.

David Wilkinson:          Brilliant. Actually, that’s so interesting because I did, it’s funny, I kind of did a reverse study of this, way back in the ’90s, where we took people and gave them two different … two different populations on two different types of video game. One was a shooting video game, which was an aggressive video game, and one was actually what they were doing was rafting down a river. Same controls, but completely different games and then what we did was measured the level of aggression afterwards, to see whether aggressive video games do promote aggressive thinking and behavior afterwards. And it fairly conclusively does, just doing those kinds of activities creates, at least for a short while, and I suppose it depends on how often you’re doing it. But that’s really interesting. A great way of doing it.

David Wilkinson:          So, what can practitioners take away from this in organizations, that can help them at kind of an organizational level, or for their own personal behavior in terms of regulating their own emotions, or understanding what’s going on in organizations, Maya?

Maya Tamir:                 Well, I think perhaps the most important thing to take away from this is to understand that emotions are not these fixed machines that operate in the same predictable way. They’re very flexible, and they’re very malleable, and they’re very dynamic and they’re likely to influence people in the way that people expect them to. And so, if you want people to optimize or maximize whatever benefit they gain from their emotions, then maybe one way to do it is instead of working really hard to change emotions, which is wonderful and important, and I think both you and I share a passion for emotion regulation, it’s also incredibly hard to do.

Maya Tamir:                 So, what we can do is, we can try to change what people think about their emotions and what people expect from their emotions. And that is something that can help managers, and employers and employees use their emotion better if they can try to cultivate beliefs about emotions that are more reasonable.

Maya Tamir:                 You know, we all have beliefs about emotions that are potentially dangerous. We all believe that happiness is amazing, and wonderful and the best thing ever in the world, especially in some countries. Especially in the Western World. We’ve developed such a strong belief about the importance and utility of happiness, that we start to blame ourselves if we don’t feel happy.

David Wilkinson:          Yeah.

Maya Tamir:                 And so, people feel bad that they feel only a little happy and not extremely happy. And so, that’s another example of how our beliefs about emotions may be as important as our emotions themselves.

David Wilkinson:          Yes.

Maya Tamir:                 And so, changing these beliefs in a way that is useful, both instrumentally, but also psychologically, I think is an important point to take from this research.

David Wilkinson:          Yeah, and this whole idea that actually, beliefs drive an awful lot of the outcomes that we have, behavioral outcomes, through our emotions is quite critical for people in organizations and not assuming that an emotion will necessarily lead to a particular outcome.

David Wilkinson:          Are you okay? Have you got some water there?

Maya Tamir:                 I’m just choking to death slowly.

David Wilkinson:          Oh no, no. We can’t … Don’t choke, we need you. Yeah, and I think that’s really important for people to understand in organizations.

Maya Tamir:                 I actually think that there’s another aspect in organizations, that’s especially important in this respect because organizations are also oftentimes, not always, but often a multi-cultural setting, where people from all kinds of backgrounds come together to do something together. It’s important to understand that different people can have a different set of beliefs.

David Wilkinson:          Yeah.

Maya Tamir:                 People who come from different cultures, or different backgrounds, or people from different ages, or different gender can bring different beliefs to the table, and these beliefs could change how their emotions impact them. Some people, in some cultures, think that worry is terrible. Other people think that worry is wonderful. And so, different people may work better if they’re worried, or not.

Maya Tamir:                 And so, the more sensitive we are to each other, and to the set of beliefs we bring to the table, the more we can help people find those emotional states that would optimize their performance and their behavior in the organization.

David Wilkinson:          Yeah, I think that’s really important. This is completely anecdotal, it wasn’t part of a study I was doing, it was something that I was just engaged in. I met a guy in Kabul, who was probably one of the happiest people I’ve ever met, even though he had no legs, both legs had been blown off in a mine explosion. I was talking to him and I was trying to work out what his mindset was and how he was thinking about things. As far as he was concerned, Allah had spared him, and therefor there was a reason for this, and he had to go and live the best life that he could.

David Wilkinson:          On the other hand, a week later, I was dealing with somebody who had post traumatic stress disorder, who had actually been injured, not the same injuries, not quite a widespread. But the beliefs had actually driven that person down a different line of behaviors and sets of emotions that then cascaded into a very difficult place for the individual.

David Wilkinson:          This idea, that actually we can start to control things and regulate our emotions through our beliefs, become quite an important part of organizational life, but everyday life. And actually, people have got a lot more control than they think they have.

Maya Tamir:                 Yes, I think there are two points to be made, that are not exactly the same. One is that, we can use our beliefs about emotions to regulate our emotions, and I certainly agree with that. If we think about emotions, for example, as something that’s fixed and that’s beyond our control, we’re probably gonna be less effective in regulating our emotions, even if it’s the same emotion and at the same intensity than if we believe that emotions are malleable and we can change them.

David Wilkinson:          Right.

Maya Tamir:                 So, that’s just one example of how beliefs can influence how we regulate our emotions. But the other point, perhaps a corresponding point is that, our beliefs shape not only how we regulate our emotions, but also how emotions themselves operate. Emotions don’t operate in fixed ways. Their outcomes depend on our conception of the world. And so, if we understand that, then we could be less afraid of emotions that we typically consider to be negative.

David Wilkinson:          Yes.

Maya Tamir:                 We can look at two angry people and say, “This person, now that I understand their belief, is likely to destroy this negotiation when they’re angry. And that person, now that I understand her belief, could actually get the best deal possible, when she’s angry. And I can understand this diversity and I can encourage it without being overly critical, because I understand the beliefs that underlie the connection between emotions and behavior in these different people.”

David Wilkinson:          Yeah, that’s fantastic. That’s really good. Can I just ask you, what are you working on at the moment that you’re quite happy to talk about and the kinds of direction that you’re going now? Just the things that you’re happy to talk about, I understand that …

Maya Tamir:                 That’s like the hardest question, because there are always so many potential answers. Like, pick-and-choose is really hard. But one … So, there are many questions that I’m curious about. One thing that I’m very curious about has to do with how people learn what emotions can do.

Maya Tamir:                 Even if emotions can do very different things for very different people, somehow, you know, we don’t walk around in the world as we did in our little paper that you talked about, where we get these expectations inserted into our heads by devious experimenters.In the world, we somehow develop these expectations and I am very curious in understanding how they’re developed.

David Wilkinson:          Ah.

Maya Tamir:                 So some of the … And what we’re trying to do in my laboratory is, examine this question from multiple perspectives simultaneously. One way is to look at very, very basic learning mechanisms to see whether people develop these expectations from their own direct experience. “If I’m angry and I get positive feedback, and then I’m angry again and I get positive feedback, I then cultivate the expectation that when I’m angry, good things happen.” That would be one possibility.

Maya Tamir:                 Another possibility is by pure observation. “If I look at other people around me, in my close circle, and I see that, whenever my best friend is angry, they then get their work done, then I may develop this expectancy that anger should help people get their work done.”

Maya Tamir:                 Or, maybe there are not necessarily experimenters, but there are other ways of inserting ideas into our heads. We open the television, or we look at YouTube, and we get these examples or even quite explicit ideas about what emotions do and don’t do. There’s all kinds of movies. You take your kids to a Disney movie and in the Disney movie it says, “There’s a blue person in your head, or a red person in your head and when that person blows up, all hell breaks loose.” Okay, so now you’ve learned that anger leads to aggression.

Maya Tamir:                 So, I’m interested in learning and understanding how we cultivate these beliefs, partly because that will help us understand where these beliefs come from and how we differ from one another and why. And also, if we understand the mechanism, then we can see where it goes wrong.

David Wilkinson:          Yes.

Maya Tamir:                 Because there are beliefs that are very maladaptive.

David Wilkinson:          Oh yeah.

Maya Tamir:                 There are people who have developed these beliefs that sadness is somehow beneficial. Not pleasant, but beneficial. Or that fear is beneficial, or worry. And so they hold on to their worry and they don’t let go, because they think that if they worry enough, they will prevent the next disaster from happening to them.

David Wilkinson:          Yes.

Maya Tamir:                 And so they become … they are those people with general anxiety disorder.

David Wilkinson:          That’s really fascinating, and this whole idea of moving into expectations and where they come from. I’m expecting, and certainly some of the research that I’ve seen is kind of a myriad places, that expectations kind of end up being embedded in our consciousness and also our unconsciousness, I suppose. That’s really interesting and I look forward to those papers.

Maya Tamir:                 Thank you.

David Wilkinson:          I know you’ve gotta go in a minute. So I’ll cut it here. Thank you very much for spending the time with us.

Maya Tamir:                 Sure.

David Wilkinson:          I do appreciate it. A fascinating series of research, and I’d like to keep in touch. We seem to be operating in very similar areas.

Maya Tamir:                 Thank you so much, and thanks for your interest in our work, that’s wonderful. Thanks.

David Wilkinson:          Yeah, it’s really great. Thank you very much Maya, you take care and enjoy the rest of your day.

Maya Tamir:                 You too.

David Wilkinson:          Take care. Bye.



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David Wilkinson

David Wilkinson is the Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford Review. He is also acknowledged to be one of the world's leading experts in dealing with ambiguity and uncertainty and developing emotional resilience. David teaches and conducts research at a number of universities including the University of Oxford, Medical Sciences Division, Cardiff University, Oxford Brookes University School of Business and many more. He has worked with many organisations as a consultant and executive coach including Schroders, where he coaches and runs their leadership and management programmes, Royal Mail, Aimia, Hyundai, The RAF, The Pentagon, the governments of the UK, US, Saudi, Oman and the Yemen for example. In 2010 he developed the world's first and only model and programme for developing emotional resilience across entire populations and organisations which has since become known as the Fear to Flow model which is the subject of his next book. In 2012 he drove a 1973 VW across six countries in Southern Africa whilst collecting money for charity and conducting on the ground charity work including developing emotional literature in children and orphans in Africa and a number of other activities. He is the author of The Ambiguity Advanatage: What great leaders are great at, published by Palgrave Macmillian. See more: About: About David Wikipedia: David's Wikipedia Page