You have questions. I have (some) answers.
1. The impact of gifted and talented programs during childhood/formal schooling on the career of those who went through those programs. My hypothesis is that they have no impact at all. (Paula, Madrid)
Get ready to think again. Meta-analysis of 26 studies: enrichment programs for gifted and talented students increase their academic achievement and socioemotional development.
Of course, the effects vary by program, student, and age. Summer residential programs made the biggest academic contributions, year-round did the most good for socioemotional growth, and middle schoolers benefited the most.
2. How to deal with toxic leadership. (Name withheld to protect the innocent)
(And yes, we couldn’t resist exploring the etymology of “asshole”—and how it’s different from “asshat.”)
3. How to help people love and care for each other despite major differences of opinions! (Suzanna, Atlanta)
Bob taught me a technique for dealing with assholes that I’ve adapted to people who have dramatically different views. When you find out someone holds beliefs that you see as wrong or offensive, you think of yourself as a galactic anthropologist who’s just discovered alien life. You say to yourself, “Wow, what a fascinating specimen!” Instead of pure outrage at their opinions, you start to get curious about how they arrived at those opinions—and what would motivate them to change them. Which leads to a much more open-minded conversation.
4. The horror of being a super - taster and how you handle it in your life. With lots of metaphorical pics please. 😍 (Steph)
My grandmother hated chocolate, and I do too—I’d honestly rather eat dirt. I didn’t know why until I went to a psychology conference. The keynote speaker was a taste expert, Linda Bartoshuk, and she gave out a piece of paper for the ~500 audience members to lick. She said most people wouldn’t be able to taste the chemical on it, but some of us might find it a little unpleasant.
The moment my tongue touched the paper, my mouth entered Dante’s 7th circle of hell. No one else in the room reacted at all. I made a beeline for the water fountain and returned to learn that I was an extreme supertaster. That means I have extra taste buds on my tongue, which makes chocolate, coffee, and most green vegetables taste gross (think Newman on Seinfeld, disgusted by broccoli: “vile weed”).
I handle it by eating like a 5-year-old. My favorite foods include cheese pizza, spaghetti, and the greatest culinary creation in human history—the Cotton Candy Blizzard from Dairy Queen. Nutrition aside, if I was forced to choose between giving that up or abandoning all other foods, it would be a hard decision.
Fun fact: although most of the early data suggested that supertasting is not super for health, it looks like we’re less susceptible to severe COVID.
I’m going to start doing these Q&As regularly, so if you have more questions, put them in the comments below. All topics are fair game, with one warning: the farther you stray from psychology and work, the less credible I become.