From the Lab: Play Games on Your Smartphone

After a disaster, play games on your smartphone.

That’s the takeaway from a recent study as summarized by Art Markman in Psychology Today.

In the study, researchers tracked cell phone use following a major earthquake in China in 2013. What they found was that while everyone felt a similar level of threat shortly after the event, those who spent more time using “hedonic” (i.e., pleasurable) apps on their smartphone—like games and music players—recovered more quickly than those who used them less.

While some may dismiss this strategy as simply “numbing the pain,” sometimes that’s exactly what people in pain need. And while the experience of public speaking is nowhere near that of surviving a natural disaster, it’s likely that the same recovery strategy will work. Therefore, if you find yourself feeling particularly stressed after a communication “disaster,” it may be beneficial to pull out your smartphone and play some games or listen to music until you calm down enough to debrief it more rationally.

From the Lab: Pump Up the Jam

In The Science of Speaking, I cite research showing that listening to relaxing music while preparing your speech can significantly reduce your stress. Yesterday, my wife sent me an article in Fitness magazine citing a 2015 study that demonstrates another good use of music.

According to the study, listening to powerful music—particularly pieces that are heavy in bass, like the classic fight song “We Will Rock You” by Queen—can increase our feelings of power and lead us to act more like powerful people do.

While feeling more powerful is not always the best strategy (see The Power Paradox by Dacher Keltner for more on this), if you feel like more power is going to help you, this study provides an easy way to power up: pump up the jam (and while you’re at it, the bass).