« All Episodes

Priming Effects

Published 10/4/2019

Today, we're talking about priming. Specifically in this episode we'll cover our reactions and responses to the things that happen to us on a day-to-day basis. The subtle cues that we take from our environment and how we act in relation to our careers and career growth.

Get in touch

If you have questions about today's episode, want to start a conversation about today's topic or just want to let us know if you found this episode valuable I encourage you to join the conversation or start your own on our community platform Spectrum.chat/specfm/developer-tea

🧡 Leave a Review

If you're enjoying the show and want to support the content head over to iTunes and leave a review! It helps other developers discover the show and keep us focused on what matters to you.

🍵 Subscribe to the Tea Break Challenge

This is a daily challenge designed help you become more self-aware and be a better developer so you can have a positive impact on the people around you. Check it out and give it a try at https://www.teabreakchallenge.com/.

🙏 Thanks to today's sponsor: GitPrime

Our sponsor GitPrime published a free book - 20 Patterns to Watch for Engineering Teams - based data from thousands of enterprise engineering teams. It’s an excellent field guide to help debug your development with data.

Go to GitPrime.com/20Patterns to download the book and get a printed copy mailed to you - for free. Check it out at GitPrime.com/20Patterns.

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Imagine you're at your home and it's late at night and you're watching a thriller. And in this thriller there are a bunch of jump scares, moments where someone pops out and it startles the viewer as much as it startles the actors in the movie. If you're like me and like most humans, after watching a thriller you're probably more likely to lock your door before you go to bed that night. And even though we all can rationalize that a TV show is just a TV show, a movie is just a movie, sometimes after watching a thriller we feel like we need to kind of cleanse ourselves to watch something lighter, something happier or pick up a lighthearted novel before we can actually go to sleep. And when I've talked to other people about this, there's surprisingly similar behaviors. So what exactly is happening here and how does it relate to our careers? Today we're talking about priming. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and you're listening to Developer Tea. My goal on the show is to help driven developers like you find clarity, perspective and purpose in your careers. Priming is a whole collection of mental biases and psychological phenomenon that essentially says that something that has happened before prepares us or provides the context for the thing that happens after. And usually this is with reference to things that happen temporally right next to each other. And at a high level you can think about priming in terms of speed of processing and specifically with relation to association. So for example on this podcast when I say the word react, you're probably likely to call to mind the word JavaScript faster than you might another programming language. Interestingly when we say react in the context of this podcast another type of priming has occurred because the broad scale meaning of the term react is to respond to something. It has nothing to do with JavaScript, but people are listening to this to this podcast probably know about the capital R react the JavaScript framework. And so within the context of listening to this podcast you have kind of a longer tail framing effect happening, but priming is not just about context, it's not just about word recognition. It's also about the subtle cues that we take from our environment. For example in one study the presence of a screensaver that had dollar bills on it, many people act in slightly more self interested or greedy ways. So how does priming matter to our careers and how can we use it to our advantage? Well first we can think about priming as it relates to education. Priming is used in more formal education environments to help people become more familiar and readily able to accept new information. And this often looks as simple as having a pre reading assignment, allowing people to read things in advance to the more formal teaching of that lesson. But there's other ways that we can use priming to our advantage, especially with relation to how we work together. We'll talk about that right after we talk about today's sponsor, which happens to be Git Prime. Git Prime is promoting their new book, 20 Patterns to Watch for in Engineering Teams. Have you ever noticed that some of the best managers are also the best at debugging problems? They view their teams as complex systems and they use systems thinking to approach those teams. They bring curiosity and this relentless pursuit to find the real root cause of problems on their teams. Git Prime has published a free book, 20 Patterns to Watch out for in Engineering Teams, based on data from thousands of enterprise engineering teams. They dig into various work patterns and team dynamics that we can all relate to with prescriptive ways to identify and improve how we build software together. This is an excellent field guide to help you debug your development with data and I've looked through it and it is definitely insightful. Sometimes there are patterns happening that you may not realize are happening on your team and that feel like they're the right thing, but they could be leading you down a bad path. Don't check it out. Gitprime.com. That's gitprime.com slash 20 Patterns. Download the book today. Thanks so much to Gitprime for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. So how can we use priming to our advantage as developers? Well, one simple way to imagine using priming and kind of the high level way is to consider what stage you want to set. What stage do you want to set? So if you're a manager, for example, naming your meetings, do you want to set the tone of cold professionalism or do you want to set a tone of personal connection or maybe something in between? You can literally name your meetings differently in the calendar, include an emoji. This can change the basic frame that you see those meetings in and even though it feels like a very subtle shift, priming can have profound effects on the way that people perceive things. Another example that you can use is to actually connect at a personal level at the beginning of every meeting that you have. When done right, this can set the tone for letting your guard down in that meeting, to connect with each other and to be more honest and open about what you're experiencing at work. At the end of the day, priming is not some magical formula. It's not a special trick to control the brains of the people that you work with. Instead, priming is about being thoughtful with how people are perceiving the work that they do. And this includes you. If you can prime your own mind, for example, you may take the night before to look at the work that you're going to do the following day. This is another type of priming. You may find out that these very simple changes in how you can prepare your brain for a particular event or a ceremony with your team, they can change the way you think about that event entirely. It's like a foundation. No matter how thin it is, no matter how simple it is, everything on top of it is likely to be different. If you change that foundation. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. I hope that you take this concept and you go and dig in a little bit more about priming for yourself. There's so many interesting studies and so many little subtle effects, really cool ways of thinking about priming that I encourage you to learn more about on your own. Thank you to today's sponsor, GetPrime. Whatever to get prime.com slash 2-0 patterns, that's gitprime.com slash the numbers 2-0 patterns and get the free book. Today's episode wouldn't be possible without spec.fm and our wonderful producer, Sarah Jackson. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and until next time, enjoy your tea.