3 Minute Monday – Expectations, Svetlana & Selfridges

3 Minute Monday

Hi friend,

My favourite studies that I’ve learned about this year are from my conversation with David Robson about his book The Expectation Effect.

Listen to the full episode here on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Self-reports of gluten intolerances have increased 10x from 3% to 30% over the last decade.

Researchers wanted to find out what was going on.

They brought people with self-identified gluten intolerances into the lab and fed them a meal.

Research participants were told that the meal contained gluten, but it actually had none in at all.

After eating, researchers found that participants were breaking out with hives, inflammation and diarrhoea.

Just as a reminder here – THEY HADN’T EATEN ANY GLUTEN.

Yet they were suffering as if they had.

This is the power of our expectations.

Another study wanted to test participants’ VO2 Max on a stationary bike.

There is a genetic mutation which makes your lungs more efficiently absorb oxygen and blow off Co2.

An equal number of participants with and without the mutation were brought into the study.

They were then mixed up into two groups with half of each mutation and non-mutation representation.

One group was told that they did have the right mutation and they should be pretty good at this test (remember that there’s people in this who do NOT have it).

The other group was told that their bodies weren’t quite cut out for this kind of test so they might find it harder (some people WITH the mutation are in this group).

Upon looking at the results, researchers found that the people who had been told they have the good mutation outperformed the other group – perhaps not a surprise.

What was more of a surprise was when they analysed what was going on inside of their bodies.

The lungs of people without the athletic mutation who had been told that they should perform well were blowing off Co2 more efficiently, they had lower overall heart rates and a lower Rate of Perceived Exertion.

And the kicker…

They were more efficient than the people who did have the good mutation but were told that they didn’t.

Because of what they were told, different groups were able to reverse the effectiveness of their genetic markers.

As David put it “your expectations are more powerful than your genes”.

This Expectation Effect is everywhere and impacts pretty much anything you care to care about.

It’s probably the most compelling justification for optimism I’ve ever heard.

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This week’s upcoming episodes:

Neil deGrasse Tyson – where are the aliens? Is Mars a good backup planet? Why is there a supervoid in space? How come the Planck Length exists? If you like physics and space, you need this episode.

Tracy Dennis-Tiwary – one of the world’s leading anxiety researchers on why anxiety exists, how to reframe our experience of it and strategies for becoming anti-fragile to anxious worry. Very very good.

Not sure yet, maybe Tom Van Der Linden on Existential Philosophy and movies.


Architects like Svetlanas.

American architect William Wesley Peters married twice.

Both of his wives were named Svetlana.

The first Svetlana was the daughter of Frank Lloyd Wright.

The second Svetlana was the daughter of Joseph Stalin.

Do not trigger the crazies.

“There is no need to intentionally make insane people dislike you.

Some of them will arrive there without your assistance, and many will end up causing more issues than you’d imagine” — Asara

Selfridges is underperforming.

Beauty livestreamer Li Jiaqi sold $1.9 billion worth of products in one twelve-hour show on Taobao.

That’s slightly less than the total sales from all four Selfridges stores during 2019.


Introduce your friend with their best achievements.

This has happened a ton since I’ve been in Austin.

When meeting new people in a group and someone asks what you do or how you know each other, step in on behalf of that person and say whatever you find most impressive about them.

“Zack has one of the best weightlifting channels on YouTube but he does music and cultural comedy too.”

It’s a really cool way to big your friend’s achievements up and make them feel good without it sounding like bragging.

Big love,
Chris x

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