January 18, 2018

Groups can change and improve

Teaching people that groups can change and improve may be a powerful tool to promote peace. Below, two studies are mentioned, one from 2011 and one from 2018.

Halperin et al. (2011)

A study by Halperin et al (2011) showed that teaching people that groups are capable of change and improvement) can lead to short-term improvements in intergroup attitudes and willingness to make concessions in intractable conflicts. Using a nationwide sample (N = 500) of Israeli Jews, their first study showed that a belief that groups were malleable predicted positive attitudes toward Palestinians, which in turn predicted willingness to compromise. In the remaining three studies, experimentally inducing malleable versus fixed beliefs about groups among Israeli Jews (N = 76), Palestinian citizens of Israel (N = 59), and Palestinians in the West Bank (N = 53)--without mentioning the adversary--led to more positive attitudes toward the outgroup and, in turn, increased willingness to compromise for peace.

January 14, 2018

Why I think the blockchain will bring progress

Recently, I have become interested in a new technology which is gaining popularity and which will probably have a great impact on our society: the blockchain. Put simply, blockchain technology is a technological infrastructure underlying cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Below I will explain a bit the emergence of this new technology, about what it is, and about why it will probably become very important.

December 5, 2017

The motivation continuum: self-determination theory in one picture

Elements from self-determination theory are somewhat known to many people. Particularly, the terms intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation are familiar to many people. Also reasonably well-known are the basic psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Recently someone said to me: "I have heard of several elements of the theory but I find it hard to get a good overview of the it." If you feel the same, the picture below may be useful for you. It is my most recent version of the so-called motivation-continuum. There are many version of this model in circulation and they are all variations on and extension of the original version by Ryan & Deci (2000). In the picture below I show which types of motivation emerge in which contexts, and what their effects are on our behaviors, emotions, and performance (click to enlarge).

November 26, 2017

Carol Dweck's new theory on the foundations of personality

Carol Dweck, founder of mindset theory, has written an ambitious new paper in Psychological Review. In this paper, she presents a new theory about how personality is formed and how both nature and nurture play a role in this. The interesting thing about this theory is that it both establishes connections between old and new theories within psychology and that is brings together separate psychological disciplines. Social psychologists have often been criticized for paying too little attention to theory building and for merely developing fragmentary knowledge. Dweck now comes up with a strong answer to these criticisms in the form of a broad theory which may turn out to explain a broad range of psychological phenomena. This type of theorizing is not only important for social scientists but also for practitioners for whom psychological knowledge is relevant (and who is really excluded from this group?). Good theory can help practitioners deal with problems in more informed, systematic and integrated ways. Below, I will explain what the theory is. Then, I will say a bit more about some of the main parts of the theory.

May 13, 2017

Is there a good case for 'positive education'?

In this post I expressed my skepticism about something which is called Positive education, an approach advocated by Martin Seligman (photo). What that is, is explained in this video which I also mentioned. My two reasons for being skeptical were 1) that I found the definitions of positive education as mentioned in the video confusing rather than clarifying, and 2) that it is not clear to me to what extent well-being should be an outcome measure in education (read the post for more details on that point).

May 12, 2017

Are positive stereotypes taken as compliments?

We generally think of stereotypes as generalizing negative judgments about a category of people. In a stereotype the behavior of individuals is attributed to the group to which they (appear to) belong. Also, supposed negative characteristics of groups may be projected on individuals which belong to the group. It is not surprising that many people view stereotypes as undesirable. There are some quite dangerous sides to it. They can create tensions between groups and even undermine the integrity of society. Moreover they deny the unique character of individuals. But what about positive stereotypes, in other words, positive generalizations about social groups? Will these be viewed positively because they are really just complimentary?

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner