July 16, 2016

What is the relation between mastery goals and intrinsic motivation?

Bieg et al. (2016) did a study to clarify the relation between mastery goals and intrinsic motivation. Let's first look at what these two concepts mean.

Meaning and importance of mastery goals and intrinsic motivation

Mastery goals are focused on developing competence. This is in contrast with performance goals which are focused on demonstrating one's competence in comparison with others. Why are mastery goals important? Because research has shown that they have many positive effects (in comparison with performance goals), such as choosing challenging goals, persistence, more interest, deeper learning, etc. Intrinsic motivation is the desire to do things which are inherently interesting, fun, exciting or otherwise satisfying. Intrinsic motivation is not only fun. It is also important because it is associated with positive emotions, interest, and deep learning.

July 15, 2016

Portugal decriminalized drugs use and what happened?

Drugs use can have a disruptive effect on lives of individuals and can also lead to many problems at a societal level. In 1971 president Nixon proclaimed a 'War on Drugs' which continues up to today. This war on drugs meant that the production, trade and use of drugs were seen as criminal behavior and were to be fought aggressively by the state. The emphasis in the war on drugs was on punishment and not on treatment of addiction. Has it been successful? Well, no. The annual costs are astronomic (they are estimated to be around $51 billion), prisons are packed and drugs use and all problems that go along with it have only gotten worse. Okay, but if such a strict approach does not work, what else can you do?

July 13, 2016

Is need for novelty the fourth basic psychological need?

We may need to keep on experiencing new things in order to keep on functioning well and feeling well. 

Self-determination theory has identified three basic, innate psychological needs - the need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness - which need to be fulfilled for optimal functioning. In a paper by González-Cutre et al. (2016) preliminary evidence is provided that need for novelty is also a basic psychological need contributing to optimal functioning. In two studies, participants completed a new measure to assess novelty need satisfaction, the Novelty Need Satisfaction Scale (NNSS), measures of psychological needs and regulation styles and psychological well-being.

July 6, 2016

Trump's words are a clear warning of what he intends to do: turn back civilization

Of the many things that can be held against Donald Trump (that very many things he says aren't true, his ruthless behavior in business, his many business failures, his unawareness of his own ignorance regarding policy matters, the fact that he's taking bragging to whole new levels, that he promises amazing things without explaining how he will achieve them, etc.) there is one thing that worries me most and that is his philosophy that fire should be fought with fire.

July 5, 2016

The 4 Progress-Focused Roles Model (4PR model)

In 2008 I developed the 4 Progress-Focused Roles model (4PR model) together with my colleague Gwenda Schlundt Bodien (with whom I also, 4 years ago, co-developed the progress-focused approach as a whole).

The model describes four different roles from which progress-focused professionals may work: helping, directing, training/advising, and instructing. It is a two-dimensional model which describes these four roles which apply in conversations.

July 1, 2016

Response to two tweets by Steven Pinker (on race and sex differences)

Steven Pinker
This week Harvard University professor Steven Pinker posted two tweets which I'd like to respond to. The first tweet is about racism, the second about whether sex differences exist.

June 26, 2016

Self-directed personality development

Personality traits are viewed as behavioral tendencies which are relatively stable over time and over a variety of situations. Both among lay people and psychologists there are many who think that changing one's personality substantially is hard or even impossible. This belief is primarily based on the observation that the personality of most people does not appear to change a lot during adult life. But a paper by Hennecke et al. (2014) suggests that self-directed personality change is possible. In the paper they explain why personality usually does not change much, why it actually can be done, and how it can be done.

Growth mindset intervention improves stress response of adolescents

Adolescents are often exposed to negative social judgments. This can create stress when they feel they cannot meet the expectations of a social situation. Yeager et al. (2016) studied whether adolescents would be able to better deal with these challenges when they were taught that people have the potential to learn the required social characteristics. In other words, when they were taught a growth mindset with respect to personality.

June 25, 2016

Wisdom is associated with well-being

Are people with stronger cognitive abilities happier? Previous research into this question led to inconclusive results. Researchers Grossman et al. (2013) suspected that this was because this research primarily looked into the relation between intelligence and well-being and not to other qualities such as wisdom. That is why they did a study with 241 people in which they investigated the relationships between 5 variables: 1) intelligence, 2) wisdom, 3) personality, 4 age, and 5) well-being. Wisdom was measured through a structured interview method; the other variables were measured using validated tests and scales.

June 24, 2016

Everyday wisdom is not a stable personality trait

Igor Grossman and Ethan Kross (2014) showed that people, by looking at their own problems from a distance (from a third person perspective), can come to wiser judgments (read more about their studies). A new study by Grossman et al. (2016) focuses on the question how stable or dynamic wisdom is in daily life. The researchers did a daily diary study into wise reasoning which lasted 9 months with 152 participants and which asked people to reflect on problems which that had had the previous day. They measured 3 facets of wisdom: intellectual humility, self-transcendence (being able to view your situation from a distance), and consideration of others’ perspectives/compromise.

June 15, 2016

Mindset-intervention before college narrows achievement gaps

A new study by Yeager et al. (2016) tested the effects of preparatory lay theory interventions to reduce racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic achievement gaps when students enter college. Lay theory interventions are interventions aimed at helping students understand that challenges in the transition to college are common and improvable and, thus, that early struggles need not portend a permanent lack of belonging or potential. Often, these interventions are done when students are already at college. Preparatory lay theory interventions are done before students have entered college. As the study suggests they work. The picture on the right shows why. These interventions help people explain struggles and problems in a different and more constructive manner which helps them to respond more effectively to them and to be more successful.

June 14, 2016

Hate gays? Maybe You’re Gay

Have you noticed the paradox that sometimes people who are vocal opponents of gay rights at some point turn out to be gay themselves? Did you hear that the person responsible for the mass shooting at a gay club earlier this week had been a regular visitor of that club and chatted with men via online dating services like Grindr? How to make sense of this paradox?

Simple pleasures buffer negative consequences of small annoyances for daily goal progress

Simple pleasures buffer negative consequences of small annoyances for daily goal progress
In a six-day experience-sampling study Mead et al (2016) tested how simple pleasures and small annoyances that characterize everyday life affect goal progress. Results supported their prediction that simple pleasures would buffer the detrimental consequences of small annoyances for daily goal progress.

June 11, 2016

Meaning and motivation in work: what is the role of managers?

In this video, Ed Deci, co-developer of the self-determination theory, explains that we, as parents, teachers, coaches and managers should not try to motivate people but instead can try to create the conditions within which people can motivate themselves. People are not like, so to speak, empty vessels in which we have to pour motivation.  People are naturally motivated to explore and try to understand their environment and to try to make useful contributions. If you still treat people like motivation-less creatures into which motivation has to be pumped you will inevitably create resistance because you disregard their already existing motivation and their ability to further motivate themselves.

June 9, 2016

Review of Angela Duckworth's book GRIT

A year ago I wrote a post about Angela Duckworth's work on grit. I said I found it interesting but that it also raised questions. As examples, I mentioned these questions:
An important question I have about the grit concept is what long term passions or goals precisely look like. If you look at the tool with which Duckworth and her colleagues measure grit (see here), this does not become quite clear. At which level do these long term goals have to be specified? Does it matter whether they are defined in terms of achievements or in terms of learning? How narrow or specific do these goals or passions have to be?  To which degree are they static or dynamic? I imagine that, as a young person, you cannot oversee how your life will evolve and that your experiences affect how you will think about what your passion or long term goals are and how they will change or evolve. Is is perhaps so that thinking about your long term goals or passions is a continuous process in which you keep refining and redefining what they are?

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