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October 5, 2015

Choosing better education and a growth mindset

Recently I criticized an article by Alfie Kohn in which he criticized Carol Dweck. Whether Kohn does not understand the growth mindset well, and is not well informed about mindset research, or deliberately misleads, I don't know. But what he says, isn't true. I want to focus on one of his criticisms because it contains an especially misleading thought. Kohn suggests that promoting a growth mindset implicitly sends the message to just accept and adjust to the conditions we encounter instead of changing them. I'll explain why this is not true.

October 4, 2015

The limiting effects of implicit self-beliefs

Our beliefs about ourselves can have a strong impact on how we behave and on how we develop and flourish. We are not always aware of our self-beliefs. There are what we call implicit self-beliefs. An example of such an implicit self-belief might be: "I am not a math person." Researchers Cvencek et al. (2015) of the University of Washington found, in a study with 299 Singaporean elementary-school students that children of this age often already have such implicit beliefs about whether they are or aren't 'math people'.

How robust are research findings on the growth mindset?

Recently I wrote about the replication problem in the social sciences. A big team of researchers has replicated 100 psychological studies which were published in prominent journals. The result: many of the effects that were found in the original studies were not found in the replication studies en many of the effects that were found were weaker. I wondered whether among those studies there were also studiers on the growth mindset and, if yes, whether their effects were also found in the replication studies.

October 3, 2015

Study: the Dunning-Kruger effect does exist

The Dunning-Kruger effect is the phenomenon that people who are less competent in a certain area assess themselves too positively while people who are more competent assess themselves more realistically. The explanation for this phenomenon is that you need knowledge about an area of competence to assess yourself realistically. The existence of the Dunning-Kruger effect is somewhat counter-intuitive and paradoxical. Apparently, we cannot trust our own perceptions of how good we are at something. Thinking you are quite good at something might just as well be an indication that you are actually not very good at all.

September 25, 2015

Does democracy require a reform of capitalism?

In 2012, economist Richard Wolff wrote a book called Democracy at work. A cure for capitalism which I read last week. I was a bit skeptical about the book's subtitle, not sure whether the idea that capitalism would need a cure wasn't streching it a bit, but I was attracted to the democracy at work part, so I did decide to read it.

After reading it I found the book interesting but wasn't sure how convincing I thought it was. I still wondered whether capitalism needed a cure. I did not intend to write a post about the book. Then, this week, I read about the news of several corporations being caught in unethical acts (example 1, example 2) and I revisited the book and decided to try to summarize Wolff's criticism and proposed solution.

September 23, 2015

Carol Dweck reflects on the growth mindset in eduction

A new article has been published in Education week by Carol Dweck called Carol Dweck Revisits the 'Growth Mindset'. The topic is, of course, the growth mindset. But this is not your typical article explaining the growth mindset and the fixed mindset. This article has some interesting reflections by Dweck on her work and its practical application.

September 20, 2015

Review of Leadership BS by Jeffrey Pfeffer

I have read many of Jeffrey Pfeffer's books and was looking forward to his new book Leadership BS: fixing workplaces and careers one truth at a time. Unfortunately, I think it is a disappointing book. 

Stanford University professor Jeffrey Pfeffer has a provocative new book called Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time. In the book he criticizes the leadership training industry which, he says, teaches that leaders should be trustworthy, authentic, serving, modest, and empathetic. But according to Pfeffer, there is no evidence that this leadership training does any good. In fact, he says it is harmful because it paints a much too idealistic picture of organizational reality and of the reality of leadership.

September 14, 2015

Limited-resource view of willpower predicts low goal progress and low well-being

Implicit theories about willpower predict subjective well-being
by Katharina Bernecker, Marcel Herrmann, Veronika Brandst├Ątter and Veronika Job (2015)

Objective: Lay theories about willpower—the belief that willpower is a limited versus nonlimited resource—affect self-control and goal striving in everyday life (Job, Dweck, & Walton, 2010). Three studies examined whether willpower theories relate to people's subjective well-being by shaping the progress they make towards their personal goals.

Method: A cross-sectional (Study 1) and two longitudinal studies (Study 2 & 3) measured individuals' willpower theories and different indicators of subjective well-being. Additionally, Study 3 measured goal striving and personal goal progress.

September 12, 2015

Mental effort can be contagious

In what they do, people are sensitive to the presence of others. But what is exactly known about the influence of other people's presence? The social facilitation effect has been known since 1965 and means that people perform behaviors which are largely automated more easily in the presence of others. But the presence of others can be distracting when executing tasks which require much concentration (Horwitz & McCaffrey, 2008). In a new study Desender, Beurms, & Van den Bussche (2015) demonstrate that mental effort can be contagious.

September 9, 2015

Choice in tasks can increase intrinsic motivation

Interesting new study showing that choice in tasks, however trivial and inconsequential, can increase one's intrinsic motivation:

Live as we choose: The role of autonomy support in facilitating intrinsic motivation
by Liang Meng and Qingguo Ma (2015)

Abstract: According to Self-determination Theory (SDT), autonomy is a basic psychological need, satisfaction of which may lead to enhanced intrinsic motivation and related beneficial outcomes. By manipulating the opportunity to choose between tasks of equal difficulty, throughout the motivational process, the effect of autonomy support was examined both behaviorally and electrophysiologically.

September 8, 2015

Verbal rewards and autonomous motivation

The undermining effect revisited: The salience of everyday verbal rewards and self-determined motivation 

by Rebecca Hewett, and Neil Conway

Summary: Self-determination theory suggests that some rewards can undermine autonomous motivation and related positive outcomes. Key to this undermining is the extent to which rewards are perceived as salient in a given situation; when this is the case, individuals tend to attribute their behavior to the incentive, and the intrinsic value of the task is undermined. The role of salience has yet to be explicitly tested with respect to work motivation; we know little about whether undermining occurs in relation to verbal rewards, which characterize everyday work. We examine this in a field-based quantitative diary study of 58 employees reporting 287 critical incidents of motivated behavior.

September 3, 2015

IDoneThis: what have you done today?

This morning we did a workshop on the progress principle (read more) and on autonomy support (read more). This session was attended by someone who has done several trainings with us before and who is well informed about the progress-focused approach. During a reflection discussion we had right after having done an exercise, he mentioned a tool which I had not heard about before and which sounds interesting: IDoneThis.

August 31, 2015

The leftward drift

I came across an intriguing bit in Richard Nisbett's book Mindware which was about what he called the leftward drift. This leftward drift refers to the fact that the number of college and university students who self-identify as liberal or far left in their political orientation increase as they move through college. At the same time, the number of students who call themselves conservative or far left decreases. In other words, college makes many students drift to the left in their political views.

August 30, 2015

5 Dimensions of belief systems

Gerard Saucier of the university of Oregon has done research into belief systems of people. Belief systems are important because they guide people's behaviors and thereby influence their development and the circumstances in which they will find themselves. Saucier has created insight into what kind of belief systems there are. He did this using factor analysis. Through factor analysis it is possible to reduce a large number of variables to a more limited number of variables (factors; read more). Saucier found out that the degree to which people vary in their beliefs can be describes using the following 5 dimensions (Saucier, 2013).

How to deal with the arrogant-yet-ignorant state of mind

We do not fully perceive and understand reality as it is. First, our senses do not permit us to perceive large parts of reality accurately or at all. Second, evolution has equipped us with cognitive rules of thumb (heuristics) which are fast and helpful to survive in most situations but which are also crude and inaccurate in many ways (read more). To add to this, we are to some (perhaps large) extent unaware of these handicaps. In other words, we may be ignorant without realizing it. The 2x2 model below describes four states of mind regarding our own ignorance.