New Neuroscience Reveals 4 Secrets That Will Make You Emotionally Intelligent

New Neuroscience Reveals 4 Secrets That Will Make You Emotionally Intelligent

via Eric Barker

None of them had died thus far. The raptors and trolls of the jungles of Zul’Gurub were simply no match for the group. And now the 20 elite Warlocks and Hunters descended into the dungeon. But their greatest enemy was ready for them…

Hakkar the Soulflayer, a winged serpent, stood over the group and cackled. The Hunters lifted their swords. The Warlocks prepared to cast their most powerful magic…

But Hakkar had his own spells. As the first warrior charged him, he cast “Corrupted Blood.” The hero dropped to his knees, weakened. Barely able to lift his sword as hit points drained from him…

Alright, alright…

I know what some of you are asking: “What is this nerd fantasy crap? Barker’s finally lost his mind.” It’s relevant, I swear. In fact, this is a true story. Well, kinda true. It did happen… in the online video game World of Warcraft. On September 13, 2005, to be exact. Anyway, it’s relevant, I swear. Stick with me…

Now the effects of Hakkar’s spell weren’t just powerful – they were also contagious. “Corrupted Blood” spread from character to character in the dungeon. But here’s the thing: WOW’s programmers hadn’t properly planned this new section of the game. For one thing, they didn’t predict how players would react to the unique challenge of a virally-spreading spell.

Some characters found the battle so difficult that they teleported away — bringing the contagion with them across the virtual world of Azeroth. The programmers had never intended “Corrupted Blood” to leave the dungeon but nothing in the code of the game prevented it. Only high-level characters could play this part of the game and the powerful spell just weakened them — but lesser characters could be killed by it.

In a matter of hours, entire cities in World of Warcraft fell. The dwarven land of Ironforge and the orc home of Orgimmar were littered with virtual bodies. Panic set in. Players fled the cities, spreading “Corrupted Blood” even wider. WOW had over 4 million players at the time. In days, hundreds of thousands of characters died.

Yup: it became the first virtual global pandemic.

And how did players behave in a video game pandemic? Pretty much like normal people would. The behaviors documented may sound quite familiar to all of us in the COVID-19 era…

The game’s creators tried to create a voluntary quarantine. But players didn’t comply and the disease spread. When that didn’t work they asked players to visibly mark themselves as infected to stem the tide. (“Test and trace” anyone?) But that failed too. Other players fled to remote corners of the game world to avoid exposure — virtual social distancing. (I am unaware of any hoarding of virtual toilet paper that may have occurred.)

It may have only been a video game but the people playing were quite human and they responded emotionally, as humans do. And many of those emotional reactions were quite unexpected…

Some altruistic players traveled to the centers of the pandemic, casting healing spells to try and save the infected. Many of these “first responders” died or became vectors themselves. But other players were not so kind. A few deliberately infected themselves and then teleported to the homelands of their enemies, acting as virtual-epidemiological-suicide-bombers. (One guy even took on the role of Doomsday Prophet, shouting about the plague in the middle of the town square.)

But this was just an incident in a silly game, right? Well, the CDC didn’t think so. They reached out to Blizzard Entertainment, the makers of WOW, to get statistics on the virtual plague because the event was realistic enough that they could learn from it. And epidemiologist Nina Fefferman (a WOW player herself) wrote a paper about the “Corrupted Blood Incident” that was published in the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet. Some of this data has been applied to understand the sociological aspects of the COVID-19 outbreak.

So what did they learn? Humans are emotional and hard to predict. Trying to figure out what the guy next door will do during a pandemic can be a total mystery; call it Schrödinger’s Neighbor. In the past, the computer models that epidemiologists had used failed to account for human unpredictability. However, games like WOW – a “computer model” where the behavior was driven by real humans — was far more insightful and predictive. They could be a tool to better study pandemics.

It all became a lesson in emotional intelligence.

And here we are in lovely 2020 which has thus far seemed like some alchemical hybrid of H.P. Lovecraft and the Discovery Channel. As our upside-down clown world finalizes its divorce from reality, it may seem like a really bad year to start having feelings. 2020 has thrown a flash-bang grenade into our happiness and the only rational conclusion is that this planet is haunted.

So what’s going to happen next? I don’t know but I’m in serious danger of running out of popcorn. What I do know is we need emotional intelligence more than ever. We need to maintain our connections with others, to empathize, and to work together to get through this.

Problem is, the pandemic is actually reducing our EI. The virus has created an emotional landfill in all our lives so that for some of us the only thing we’re able to connect with is a phone charger. And technology has only exacerbated the problem in many ways. Research shows too much time in front of computer screens actually reduces our ability to read the nonverbal communication of others and effectively deal with them. Yes, Zoom calls can be nice but it’s not the same as in-person conversation, just like Wii golf is not gonna turn you into Tiger Woods.

So you and I need to strengthen our emotional intelligence. And we will not be getting our EI info from an Instagram carousel or the wise manicurist at the local strip mall. Yes, I have research and I’m not afraid to use it. Now I’m not saying this is going to turn you into a force-ten-charmer but it can help us all fight the empathy atrophy of lockdown.

So what is EI? It’s a concept that John Mayer of the University of New Hampshire and Yale professor Peter Salovey came up with in the early 90’s that was subsequently studied and popularized by Daniel Goleman. Here’s Mayer’s definition.

From Harvard Business Review Guide to Emotional Intelligence:

From a scientific standpoint, emotional intelligence is the ability to accurately perceive your own and others’ emotions; to understand the signals that emotions send about relationships; and to manage your own and others’ emotions.

I’ve intellectually shrinkwrapped a lot of the data down to four R’s: Realize, Recognize, Refine, Regulate.

Maybe this is the caffeine talking, but I think it’s time to get started. Let’s get to it…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE

#happiness #happy #happier #emotionalintelligence