Team work is the answer for tiredness, says LSBU academic
If you're suffering the effects of sleepless nights, the key to breaking through your drowsy state of mind is team work, according to new research conducted by Dr Daniel Frings of London South Bank University (LSBU).*
Team work is the best solution for tired problem solvers, says LSBU's Dr Daniel Frings
The study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and published by the American Psychological Association, found that tiredness leads to poor problem solving, but that the negative effects of tiredness can be offset completely if people work in groups.
Dr Fring's research focused on a team of cadets from the Territorial Army who were on a non-stop two-day winter training exercise, only getting around five hours of sleep a night. They were tasked to solve a number of maths problems in as few steps as possible and were tested either at the beginning of the task when they were alert, or at the end when the sleepless nights and training had taken their toll.
Dr Frings found that, among the tired cadets, those who were working on their own weren't able to solve the problems as quickly as their alert counterparts, and often slipped into 'inflexible thinking'. This meant they were often overlooking the best and most obvious solution to fall back on those they'd used before.
However, those who were working in groups were able to pull together and rapidly spot the new solutions and were just effective at doing so as those who weren't tired at all. Frings suspects this was because they were more highly motivated and were able to compare solutions with other team members.
Dr Frings, a Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology at LSBU, says: "We already know that tiredness can have negative effects on an individual's vigilance, reaction time and awareness, but this research shows that it can negatively affect problem solving too.
"There are obvious dangers which can stem from a lack of creative thinking in unpredictable occupations such as the military or medicine - for example, in a busy hospital tiredness could lead to misdiagnosis if linking symptoms to diagnosis became 'routine'.
"However, whether you're a doctor, soldier, hard working office worker or stay at home parent, anyone who is experiencing the punishing effects of sleepless nights can learn from this research. If you need to make an important decision and you're tired, it's best to be part of a team.
"If you can't consult with others, ask yourself: 'Is there a better solution I'm missing because I'm tired? Can I come back to this problem after some sleep?'"
* Article: "The Effects of Group Monitoring on Fatigue-Related Einstellung During Mathematical Problem Solving", Daniel Frings, PhD, London South Bank University; Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
, Vol. 17, No. 4, published by the American Psychological Association.
Posted: 17th August 2011
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