February 14, 2020

A Brief Introduction to the Progress-Focused Approach

Coert Visser (2020) 

This book introduces the progress-focused approach. This approach is a set of principles and techniques which help individuals and teams make achieved and desired meaningful progress visible and to get ideas about next steps forward. The progress-focused approach, originally inspired by some practical techniques from solution-focused brief therapy, now heavily relies on findings from scientific psychology. It is used by many coaches, trainers, managers, teachers and employees. 

August 11, 2019

Giving advice improves academic outcomes for the advisor

Eskris-Winkler et al. (2019)

Abstract: Common sense suggests that people struggling to achieve their goals benefit from receiving motivational advice. What if the reverse is true? In a preregistered field experiment, we tested whether giving motivational advice raises academic achievement for the advisor. We randomly assigned n = 1,982 high school students to a treatment condition, in which they gave motivational advice (e.g., how to stop procrastinating) to younger students, or to a control condition. Advice givers earned higher report card grades in both math and a self-selected target class over an academic quarter. This psychologically wise advice-giving nudge, which has relevance for policy and practice, suggests a valuable approach to improving achievement: one that puts people in a position to give. Read full article.

August 10, 2019

The Role of Emotional Valence for the Processing of Facial and Verbal Stimuli—Positivity or Negativity Bias?

Kauschke et al. (2019) Abstract: Emotional valence is predominately conveyed in social interactions by words and facial expressions. The existence of broad biases which favor more efficient processing of positive or negative emotions is still a controversial matter. While so far this question has been investigated separately for each modality, in this narrative review of the literature we focus on valence effects in processing both words and facial expressions. In order to identify the factors underlying positivity and negativity effects, and to uncover whether these effects depend on modality and age, we present and analyze three representative overviews of the literature concerning valence effects in word processing, face processing, and combinations of word and face processing. Our analysis of word processing studies points to a positivity bias or a balanced processing of positive and negative words, whereas the analysis of face processing studies showed the existence of separate positivity and negativity biases depending on the experimental paradigm. The mixed results seem to be a product of the different methods and types of stimuli being used. Interestingly, we found that children exhibit a clear positivity advantage for both word and face processing, indicating similar processing biases in both modalities. Over the course of development, the initial positivity advantage gradually disappears, and in some face processing studies even reverses into a negativity bias. We therefore conclude that there is a need for future research that systematically analyses the impact of age and modality on the emergence of these valence effects. Finally, we discuss possible explanations for the presence of the early positivity advantage and its subsequent decrease. Read full article.

August 9, 2019

We Need a New Science of Progress

Progress itself is understudied. By “progress,” we mean the combination of economic, technological, scientific, cultural, and organizational advancement that has transformed our lives and raised standards of living over the past couple of centuries. For a number of reasons, there is no broad-based intellectual movement focused on understanding the dynamics of progress, or targeting the deeper goal of speeding it up. We believe that it deserves a dedicated field of study. We suggest inaugurating the discipline of “Progress Studies.” Read full article.

August 8, 2019

A national experiment reveals where a growth mindset improves achievement

By Yeager et al. (2019)

Abstract: A global priority for the behavioural sciences is to develop cost-effective, scalable interventions that could improve the academic outcomes of adolescents at a population level, but no such interventions have so far been evaluated in a population-generalizable sample. Here we show that a short (less than one hour), online growth mindset intervention— which teaches that intellectual abilities can be developed—improved grades among lower-achieving students and increased overall enrolment to advanced mathematics courses in a nationally representative sample of students in secondary education in the United States. Notably, the study identified school contexts that sustained the effects of the growth mindset intervention: the intervention changed grades when peer norms aligned with the messages of the intervention. Confidence in the conclusions of this study comes from independent data collection and processing, preregistration of analyses, and corroboration of results by a blinded Bayesian analysis. Read full article.

August 7, 2019

Do Student Mindsets Differ by Socioeconomic Status and Explain Disparities in Academic Achievement in the United States?

Destin et al. (2019)

Abstract: Students from higher–socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds show a persistent advantage in academic outcomes over lower-SES students. It is possible that students’ beliefs about academic ability, or mindsets, play some role in contributing to these disparities. Data from a recent nationally representative sample of ninth-grade students in U.S. public schools provided evidence that higher SES was associated with fewer fixed beliefs about academic ability (a group difference of .22 standard deviations). Also, there was a negative association between a fixed mindset and grades that was similar regardless of a student’s SES. Finally, student mindsets were a significant but small factor in explaining the existing relationship between SES and achievement. Altogether, mindsets appear to be associated with socioeconomic circumstances and academic achievement; however, the vast majority of the existing socioeconomic achievement gap in the U.S. is likely driven by the root causes of inequality. Read full article.

August 6, 2019

Teacher autonomy support reduces adolescent anxiety and depression

Abstract: Grounded in stageeenvironment fit theory, this study adopts a longitudinal design to examine the contribution of autonomy support from teachers to reducing adolescent anxiety and depression. A total of 236 Chinese adolescents (57.38% females, Mage ¼ 14.34) completed questionnaires on teacher autonomy support, basic psychological needs satisfaction, school engagement, anxiety, and depression in the fall and spring semesters of their 7th and 8th grade years. The results showed that teacher autonomy support in the fall of 7th grade boosted basic psychological needs satisfaction in the spring of 7th grade; this, in turn, increased school engagement in the fall of 8th grade, which subsequently decreased anxiety and depression in the spring of 8th grade. These findings demonstrated the significant effect of teacher autonomy support on reducing adolescent anxiety and depression; furthermore, it highlighted the mediating roles of basic psychological needs satisfaction and school engagement in this relationship. Read full article.

June 26, 2019

Replication of 7 classical psychological effects (6 successful)

Moderation of Classic Social Psychological Effects by Demographics in a Nationally Representative Sample: New Opportunities for Theoretical Advancement

David S. Yeager, Jon A. Krosnick, Penny Visser, Allyson Holbrook, & Alex Tahk (2019)

Abstract: For decades, social psychologists have collected data primarily from college undergraduates and, recently, from haphazard samples of adults. Yet researchers have routinely presumed that thusly observed treatment effects characterize “people” in general. Tests of seven highly-cited social psychological phenomena (two involving opinion change resulting from social influence and five involving the use of heuristics in social judgments) using data collected from randomly sampled, representative groups of American adults documented generalizability of the six phenomena that have been replicated previously with undergraduate samples. The one phenomenon (a cross-over interaction revealing an ease of retrieval effect) that has not been replicated successfully previously in undergraduate samples was also not observed here. However, the observed effect sizes were notably smaller on average than the meta-analytic effect sizes documented by past studies of college students. Furthermore, the phenomena were strongest among participants with the demographic characteristics of the college students who typically provided data for past published studies, even after correcting for publication bias in past studies using a new method, called the behaviorally-informed file-drawer adjustment (BIFDA). The six successful replications suggest that phenomena identified in traditional laboratory research also appear as expected in representative samples but more weakly, so observed effect sizes should be generalized with caution. The evidence of demographic moderators suggests interesting opportunities for future research to better understand the mechanisms of the effects and their limiting conditions.

June 15, 2019

The ethical consequences of learning versus outcome goals

David Welsh, JohnBusha, ChaseThiel, JulenaBonner

Abstract: Goal-setting theory is one of the most researched and practically applied theories in the field of organizational behavior. A core tenet of this theory is that specific and challenging goals increase performance. However, recent behavioral ethics research has left unresolved questions regarding how high performance goals can be used to motivate performance without also encouraging unethical behavior. Drawing on achievement goal theory, we consider the role of goal type in arguing that an over-use of outcome goals as performance drivers and an over-reliance on goal difficulty as a motivating mechanism have both created goal-setting’s dark side and obscured potential remedies.

June 13, 2019

When individual goal pursuit turns competitive: How we sabotage and coast

Huang, Szu-chi Lin, Stephanie C. Zhang, Ying

AbstractPeople working toward individual goals often find themselves surrounded by others who are pursuing similar goals, such as at school, in fitness classes, and through goal-oriented network devices like Fitbit. This research explores when these individual goal pursuits can turn into competitions, why it happens, and the downstream consequences of this pseudocompetition on goal pursuers. We found that people were more likely to treat their goal pursuit as a competition when they were near the end (vs. at the beginning) of their individual goal and, thus, prioritized relative positional gain (i.e., performing better than others sharing similar pursuits) over making objective progress on their own goal, sabotaging others when they had the opportunity to do so (Studies 1–3B).

June 11, 2019

Integrative emotion regulation: Process and development from a self-determination theory perspective

Guy Roth, Maarten Vansteenkiste, and Richard M. Ryan

 Abstract: Grounded in self-determination theory's (SDT; Ryan & Deci, 2017) organismic perspective, we present a process view of integrative emotion regulation. SDT describes three general types of emotion regulation: integrative emotion regulation, which focuses on emotions as carrying information that is brought to awareness; controlled emotion regulation, which is focused on diminishing emotions through avoidance, suppression, or enforced expression or reappraisal; and amotivated emotion regulation, in which emotions are uncontrolled or dysregulated.

June 9, 2019

Meta-analyses of positive psychology interventions: The effects are much smaller than previously reported

Carmela A. White, Bob Uttl, Mark D. Holder (2019)

Abstract For at least four decades, researchers have studied the effectiveness of interventions designed to increase well-being. These interventions have become known as positive psychology interventions (PPIs). Two highly cited meta-analyses examined the effectiveness of PPIs on well-being and depression: Sin and Lyubomirsky (2009) and Bolier et al. (2013). Sin and Lyubomirsky reported larger effects of PPIs on well-being (r = .29) and depression (r = .31) than Bolier et al. reported for subjective well-being (r = .17), psychological wellbeing (r = .10), and depression (r = .11). A detailed examination of the two meta-analyses reveals that the authors employed different approaches, used different inclusion and exclusion criteria, analyzed different sets of studies, described their methods with insufficient detail to compare them clearly, and did not report or properly account for significant small sample size bias.

June 3, 2019

22 Quotes from People, Power and Profits by Joseph Stiglitz

Nobel prize winner economist Joseph Stiglitz has written a new book called People, Power and Profits. In this book he describes how, since the mid-1970s has been dominated by a conservative ideology which, step-by-step has brought every increasing inequality and the undermining of democracy. In the book, Stiglitz explains what's wrong and what's needed and how to move forward.

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