Rudeness is not a trivial matter. On the contrary, it is a serious problem that has a significant economic impact. Several studies have shown that people do worse at work if they are victims or witness rude behaviour. Cisco has calculated that it loses $12 million a year because of insolence.
But it does not stop at the financial loss. Rudeness can cost human lives. This is the conclusion of a New study by American scientist Benjamin Cooper and colleagues.
Cooper investigated whether there was a relationship between rudeness and errors of judgment. He focused on one of the most common errors of judgment, the so-called stabilization effect. This is a psychological phenomenon where people focus on the first information they receive, even if this information is irrelevant. If a patient comes to the doctor and says, “I think I have a heart problem,” the doctor may focus on that, even if all the symptoms indicate another illness.
Cooper and his colleagues wondered whether people would be more susceptible to the fixation effect if they had witnessed rude behavior shortly before. To answer this question, they conducted an experiment with a group of 138 medical students. At first they had the students listen to a conversation between two emergency physicians. Half of the students overheard a civilized conversation, and the other half witnessed an argument in which an emergency doctor insulted the other. Then, all students had to take an online test. They were given a description of a medical emergency and had to make the correct diagnosis. The test was created in such a way that there was a high probability that the students would become “well-established” and be misdiagnosed. When the scientists analyzed the test results, they found that the students who heard the rude conversation were more likely to become fixated than the students in the control group.
To confirm their findings, Cooper and his team conducted a similar experiment with 40 anesthesiologists in training. They are found to make more mistakes after seeing rude behavior. Some mistakes made were life threatening.
“Our experiences show that in hospitals, deaths due to impolite behavior can increase,” said Trevor Falk, one of the study’s co-authors. “We urgently need to pay more attention to the way we treat people, especially in professions where you make critical decisions. We rightly do not accept aggressive behavior in the workplace, but rudeness is okay with us. “Small” insults have a strong negative effect on a person’s performance.This must stop.
Scientists have not explicitly investigated the cause of the harmful rude behavior. But “mental rumination” may play a role. People who have been victims or witnessed rude behavior tend to relive the incident over and over in their minds. This increases their stress level, making their performance less good.
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