Off DeWall: When Social Connections Induce Fatigue

          I love feeling connected and writing about connections. And for good reason; my mental and physical health depend in large part on my social connections; my writing about social connections helps pay my bills. But can the benefits of social connection boomerang, leaving people worse off than when they were on their own?

          I started my day having meetings with my graduate students back at the University of Kentucky. We met over Skype, which enabled us to see each other and hear each other through the use of our web cameras. My first meeting was at 6am (2pm Eastern time), and the second meeting took place at 7am (3pm Eastern time). As usual, they meetings were stimulating, engaging, and inspiring. Next, I wrote for an hour, walked to school with Tom Denson, wrote for two more hours, and then went to lunch. After lunch, I emailed, called a couple of people back home, and did some more writing.

          By the time early afternoon rolled around, I was exhausted. I had been so connected to others the entire day that I had worn myself out. I went home with aspirations to go to the gym and cool off in the ocean. I took a nap instead.

Off DeWall: From Labs to Cabs

          When you of a scientist learning, where does that learning take place? In a sterile, laboratory environment? Or in the back of a taxi cab? Today I learned lessons in both places, but each lesson took a different flavor.

          If you’re like most people, you think of a scientific laboratory as a large room filled with beakers, Bunsen burners, and people with white lab coats not saying much. That might be true of some laboratories, but it doesn’t come close to grasping what most psychology laboratories look like. People occasionally traipse around in white lab coats (my research assistants do), but most of the time people simply wear slightly better than average looking clothes. There is usually a line of small rooms, in which individual participants are led and given instructions for what they’re going to do. Faculty members have their offices close by, often next door to other faculty who share their common interests. Even our faculty offices usually look the same.


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