A 1940s psychologist named Robert Tryon wondered if rats could be bred to complete a maze more competently, and after seven generations of selective breeding he succeeded. That classic experiment is still shaping our thinking about the age-old question of nature versus nurture when it comes to human intelligence and behavior.
The real problem with eugenics and selective breeding is that you are by necessity limiting your gene pool and therefore genetic diversity. While you are able to breed for select desired traits you often also get traits that you don’t want.
Even if you can keep from getting any undesired traits your new breed will lack the genetic diversity of the old breed. This means that an environmental or biological factor (like a virus) has a higher chance of being able to wipe out the whole of the new breed. Genetically diverse populations are more resilient against extinction because their genetic diversity makes them more adaptable as a group.
Forming positive habits, like eating healthy or exercising regularly, is probably the most repeated new years resolution. Many try and many fail. Trying, and failing, to get started with exercise is particularly common and for some there is a constant cycle of working out and relapsing back into inactivity. The reason for many of these failings is that there is no system to creating new habits. People are literally running around without any idea of what they’re doing hoping that their will power alone will work until the behavior sticks. Unfortunately relying on sheer will power alone will inevitably lead to burn out. There needs to be some sort of guided approach, a system tending towards the 4 or 5 most important actionable items that will greatly increase the chance of success.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that the reward is being thinner. Recently I made a change for both INR considerations, money and weight loss. I feel better about eating food that is less processed, my INR is back to the usual consistency, but the weight loss aspect works but leaves a little to be desired.
When you’re developing a new, responsible habit, it’s tempting to break the habit every once in a while as a reward for good behavior. The problem is, this actually undermines the good behavior. Instead, try building the rewards into the system itself.
In 2010, researchers at Harvard Business School claimed to have found (PDF) that striking powerful poses caused hormonal and behavioral changes. “Power poses” seemed to raise testosterone, lower cortisol, and increase risk-taking behavior.
As with all research, replication was needed to check the validity of the results. An attempt at replication using additional controls, published recently in Psychological Science, found no behavioral or hormonal effects of “power poses,” although they did result in a boost in subjective perception of power. In other words, the original research did not hold up.