First of all, David Mitchell demonstrates that nonconscious priming can work after as much as 17 years (!) (and perhaps more, but as an experimental psychologist who hate to have to wait more than a few days to get the results of an experiment, I can understand that people wouldn't want to try more than 17 years...).

Black and white drawings were shown to people during an experiment in 1982. Seventeen years later, the same people (and some more used as a control) have been asked by mail to answer questions about drawings, some of them identical to the ones they had seen 17 years ago, and some different. The people who had participated in the first experiment were primed: they answered more easily to the questions related to the drawings they had seen 17 years ago, whereas the control participants showed no such difference. A funny thing is that some of the participants were unable to consciously remember the first study! They vaguely remembered having participated in psychology experiments, but nothing about this one in particular. Despite this lack of explicit recollection, these participants were primed too. Conclusion: if you wrong somebody, you might want to play the forgiveness and not the forgetfulness card...

Arthur Markman and his colleagues from the University of Texas (Austin) have found a case in which pressure increases performance. Here is their reasoning: pressure is thought to affect performances because it interferes with explicit thought processes (you might think of these processes as inner speech - more or less). But it is know that in some tasks, explicit thought processes actually hinder participants. So in theses tasks, pressure should increase performance.

The psychologists used two tasks: one in which explicit, rule-based thought processes are supposedly useful, and one in which the best result is achieved through more 'holistic' implicit processes. Assuming that there is a kind of competition between these processes, and that pressure will hamper explicit thought processes only, the prediction was that performance would decrease under pressure for the first task, and increase in the second. And this is exactly what they found. So in some cases, you might want to 'internally shut up', stop talking to yourself and just follow your intuitions. This fits in nicely with similar results from social psychology showing that thinking too much about some choices can actually lead to worse decisions (see the research by Wilson and Dijksterhuis). The next step might be to find a more principled way to know when it's good to use explicit reasoning and when it's not so good.

Some of us might have used this trick from times to times: acknowledging some sort of failure so that the other's judgment isn't so harsh. Now Andrew Ward and Lyle Brenner have experimentally demonstrated that it works. I'll just quote their abstract since the experiments and their results are pretty straightforward:

In Study 1, an acknowledgment that a written paragraph was confusing led individuals to rate the paragraph as clearer than they did when no acknowledgment was offered. In Study 2, a foreign speaker was rated as possessing a clearer voice when he acknowledged his strong accent than when he did not. In Study 3, a hypothetical college applicant’s acknowledgment of receiving less than stellar high school grades resulted in a more positive evaluation of those grades.

This can come in handy sometimes...

There are other interesting papers in this volume, but I'll let you check them out yourself.