International News Desk – At Home: When earthquakes hit, staying put could be safest option – In Foreign News: Soft surfaces aren’t good for striking tough deals

International News Desk – At Home: When earthquakes hit, staying put could be safest option – In Foreign News: Soft surfaces aren’t good for striking tough deals

At Home: When earthquakes hit, staying put could be safest option

When an earthquake rocked Ontario, Quebec, and surrounding regions June 23, many people followed their instincts and immediately rushed outside. But according to earthquake experts, those instincts could have put people in even greater danger.

As the CBC reports, streets in downtown Ottawa quickly filled with office workers when the quake hit. However, workers would have been safer to take shelter under their desks.

?Parts of the outside of the building are the most likely to fall and hit you,? according to Professor Paul Kovacs of the University of Western Ontario. He explained to reporters that moving ?inside of a building or outside of a building during an earthquake . . . is one of the most dangerous things to do.? Kovacs is the executive director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction in Toronto.

One exception to that advice is when occupants of a building hear the fire alarm go off. An alarm might be triggered by the quake but there’s also the possibility of a fire. If the cause of the alarm is unknown, occupants should follow normal fire procedures and evacuate the building.

Although many in the quake zone reported it was their first such experience, they might want to brush up on emergency procedures. According to the US Geological Survey, western Quebec sustains ?significant damage? from earthquakes about ?once a decade? and three or four smaller quakes hit the region each year.

In Foreign News: Soft surfaces aren’t good for striking tough deals

New research shows that, when it comes to negotiating a tough deal, hard surfaces might be just as helpful as hard tactics. As the BBC reports, US researchers found that ?weight, texture, and hardness of inanimate objects unconsciously influence judgments about unrelated events and situations.?

In one experiment, participants took part in role-playing in which they had to negotiate the price of a car. The participants who were provided with soft chairs ?were more flexible in agreeing a price? while those sitting on harder surfaces took a firmer stance in negotiations.

An object’s weight can make a difference as well. In another experiment, participants were given resumes on clipboards that varied in weight. The candidates whose resumes were on the heavy clipboards ?were seen as better qualified than those whose CVs were on a light one.?

The researchers, from Harvard and Yale University, report in Science that their findings show ?the ?tactile environment? is vital in decision making and behaviour.? Physical touch, the first sense to develop, may act as a strong subconscious basis on which people ?build social judgments and decisions.?

So next time You’re angling for that big promotion, you might want to offer your boss the softest seat in the room.

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