April 24, 2017

The learning and performing model

After I wrote this post I talked to several people about the importance of making the distinction between learning and performing. Most people I talked to found this distinction interesting and valuable and were interested in the three phases I mention: the preparation phase, the execution phase, and the reflection phase. Generally, people found these stages useful and they said they would like to pay more attention to preparation and reflection.

April 22, 2017

Why do we bounce back from failure better when we have a growth mindset?

We know that we generally bounce back from failure better when we have a growth mindset than when we have a fixed mindset (Dweck, 1999). This has to do with the fact that we interpret failing differently in different mindsets and because of that we also feel and behave differently. In a growth mindset we view failure as a consequence of not having put in enough effort or not having used an effective strategy (read more).

April 21, 2017

The effects of envy and admiration

You meet someone who is obviously better at something than you are. What do you feel? Do you admire the person? Do you feel envy? What are the effects of these different emotions? Below you can first read about social comparison theory, which has something useful to say about these phenomena. Then, I mention new research by Niels van de Ven about the effects of these different emotions.

April 20, 2017

The growth mindset and intrinsic motivation contribute independently to persistence

One way to describe what the progress-focused approach means is captured in a model which I introduced in my book Kiezen voor progressie. The model (see figure right) describes how both a growth mindset and autonomous motivation contribute to effective effort and how effort in turn creates progress. In this post you read more about this model and it may be used. Looking at this model you might wonder if there should also be an arrow between the growth mindset and autonomous motivation. Do these two influence each other, too? I have thought this before and several people have asked me about it. As far as I know it has been studied only once.

April 16, 2017

How does grading affect motivation?

Research guided by self-determination theory has shown that factors like punishment, rewards, threats, coercion, and competition can undermine the quality of motivation of individuals. When those factors are applied the autonomous motivation of individuals, which consists of intrinsic motivation and internalized motivation, can be diminished (read more about autonomous motivation). In such circumstances a more controlled motivation can emerge which generally comes with anxiety, tension, and worse performance. One factor which also can harm autonomous motivation is grading performance in schools. A new study by Krijgsman et al. (2017) explores the relationship between performance grading and students motivation in physical education (N=409).

April 15, 2017

The Emerging Neuroscience of Intrinsic Motivation

A new paper by Di Domenico & Ryan (2017) describes how a neuroscience of intrinsic motivation is emerging. Intrinsic motivation is the total of our spontaneous tendencies to be curious and interested, to seek challenges, and practice to develop our skills and knowledge even in the absence of separate rewards. Research within the framework of self-determination theory has shown that intrinsic motivation is a motivation which is present throughout the life span and which is associated with various positive effects such as learning, performing, creativity, and well-being. But intrinsic motivation is dependent on the perception of one's own competence and autonomy. If these two basic needs are thwarted, we tend to be less intrinsically motivated.

April 14, 2017

The problem with twin studies

Over roughly the last 100 years there has been a debate within the social sciences about the question how large the influence of genes and environments are on human abilities, traits, behaviors, and psychiatric and medical problems. This debate is often referred to as the nature versus nurture debate. It is not only held within the scientific community but also in popular media and by lay people. A central role in these debates is played by the so-called twin studies. Often these studies are viewed as compelling natural experiments which demonstrate the separate influence of genes and environmental factors. And they are often cited as evidence of the large influence of genes on personal characteristics such as intelligence and personality traits. But there is a growing criticism of the validity of these conclusions because there are many problems in those twin studies. A recent book by Joseph (2015) explains in detail what the many problems in twin studies are.

March 28, 2017

Checklist: 7 questions to support your professional development

What role does experience play in our professional development? We often think that how long people have been doing something determines how good they are at it. Of course, that thought can't be completely wrong. We can't say that there is no relationship at all between how long you have been doing something and how good you are at it. Someone who has been playing the piano for just a few weeks can't be very good at it yet. Learning the basic skills requires a certain time. But the relation between how long we have been doing something and how good we are at it is different than we often assume. Take as an example driving a car. When both my sons were doing their driving lessons, these last few years, they could precisely point out to me the many little mistakes I made while driving. I have been doing it for 35 years and thought I was reasonably good at it. But because of the many small reprimands by my sons, I have come to realize that many little mistakes have crept into my driving behavior without my noticing it. 

March 24, 2017

How teachers can combine autonomy-support with structure

Autonomy support is effective in parenting, in teaching, and in leadership at work. Some incorrectly think that a remark like this should be read as a plea for 'anything goes'. Autonomy support does not mean that no structure is offered. Autonomy support and structure go hand in hand. Offering structure strengthens the perception of autonomy and is even often a prerequisite for it. I elaborate this thought using the context of education as an example.

March 21, 2017

4 Surprising facts about epigenetics

Some time ago, I wrote about a book by David Moore on epigenetics, a field in biology which now changes our understanding of the influence of genes. Epigenetics, briefly, means that, under the influence of the environment, certain molecules attach themselves to our chromosomes thereby affecting how our DNA functions and how we develop. While there are important developments in epigenetics, both laypeople and biologists remain skeptical about its significance. Based on the book by Moore, I explain below why I think that is wrong.

How autonomy-support predicts the development of performance

Previous research points at positive effects of autonomy support in different contexts such as parenting, education, and work. Usually, in studies into its effects in the workplace, static measures of performance are used. (for example Gagne & Deci, 2005). This means that a measurement of performance is done at one point in time which is used as a criterion measure. Researchers Kanat-Maymon & Reizer (2017) followed a different approach. They tracked performance of newly employed soccer analysts (N=68) over a period of 5 months.

March 19, 2017

Intellectual Humility

A new paper by Leary et al. (2017) examined the psychological construct of Intellectual Humility, the degree to which people recognize that their beliefs might be wrong. To this end they used a new Intellectual Humility (IH) scale in four studies (see picture).

March 16, 2017

Do you see both achieved progress and further needed progress?

To which degree and how we focus our attention on progress has important consequences for how feel and behave. There are several types of mistakes we can make in how pay attention to progress. Below I describe three mostly ineffective ways of looking at progress and one effective way. For this purpose I use a 2x2 model which is structured around two questions. The first question is: do you have a clear view on achieved progress? The second question is: do you have a view on what further progress needs to be made? These two questions are equally important. Perceiving achieved progress makes us more optimistic and helps us understand what has worked so far. Perceiving which further progress needs to be made gives us a perspective and something which we can usefully focus our energy on. The 2x2 model shows four quadrants each of which represents a way of focusing on progress.

March 15, 2017

Democratic rights are like muscles: use them or lose them

Today the general elections are being held in the Netherlands. Here is why I will vote.

What is democracy? What are the essential features of a democracy and why are they important? What are the essential differences between democracies and non-democracies and why do these differences matter? How important are democratic rights and how important is it to use them? I answer these questions below.

March 13, 2017

Is the feeling that you are competent always an indication of incompetence?

In this article I mentioned the following quote by Charles Darwin: "Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge." I agreed with this and offered the Dunning-Kruger effect as an explanation of the phenomenon. This explanation, briefly, is that it takes competence to more or less reliably assess one's own competence. People with low competence in a certain area do not realize how low their competence is. In another article I mentioned that incompetence can even go hand in hand with arrogance while competence can go hand in hand with modesty. Of course, the Dunning-Kruger effect is not only applicable to other people but also to ourselves. David Dunning (photo), one of the pioneering researcher into the effect, said the following:

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