September 30, 2012

How drug companies mislead doctors and harm patients

In the post Overdiagnosed: too much diagnosis is turning more and more of us into patients I told you about a book by H. Gilbert Welch which explains that a big problem in healthcare nowadays is that, more and more, doctors are diagnosing and treating  patients in the absense of symptoms. The perverse situation is that the health care system is often turning healthy people into patients. As one of the driving forces between this practice, the author, mentions the the commercialization of medicine which he calls a corrupting force. To quote from that post:
"Sellers in the medical care market create demand for their wares by being in the position to decide whether or not you need to consume their products. Turning more people into patients is (like) expanding the market, something of which the whole medical-industrial complex financially benefits. Medical research is also negatively affected by commercialization. In order to do research researchers have to apply for grant money. Decisions about grants for research are not only often made by the commercial companies like the pharmaceutical industry (most medical research is now funded by industry) but also by other researchers who are wedded to conventional ideas and approaches. Sympathetic sounding disease awareness campaigns also increasingly involve paid advertising."
Now there is a book by Ben Goldacre: Bad Pharma: How drug companies mislead doctors and harm patients which points to alarming structural deficits in scientific practice. Here a brief description of the book (from

September 26, 2012

Should we hold up the mirror to point out inconsistencies between other people's values and behaviors?

Yesterday a colleague sent me an email in which he wrote about how managers' actions are often inconsistent with their espoused values. He wrote that it is the role of HRM professionals to point this out and to hold up the mirror to those managers in order to encourage them to reflect on the inconsistency between their values and their behaviors. He asked me about my thoughts on this topic.

Here is what I wrote back:

September 25, 2012

Proactive employees, introverted leaders

Bob Sutton mentions an interesting interview with Mark Templeton (photo) which contains some wise quotes (see for instance this one and this one). He also mentions a study on leadership which shows, as Sutton summarizes that "groups tend to pick people with big mouths to lead but that less pushy and extroverted leaders tend to lead more effective teams -- at least when the teams were composed of proactive members)." Here is more information on that study.

Reversing the extraverted leadership advantage: The role of employee proactivity

By Adam Grant, Francesca Gino, and David Hofmann (2011)

Abstract: Extraversion predicts leadership emergence and effectiveness, but do groups perform more effectively under extraverted leadership? Drawing on dominance complementarity theory, we propose that although extraverted leadership enhances group performance when employees are passive, this effect reverses when employees are proactive, because extraverted leaders are less receptive to proactivity. In Study 1, pizza stores with leaders rated high (low) in extraversion achieved higher profits when employees were passive (proactive). Study 2 constructively replicates these findings in the laboratory: passive (proactive) groups achieved higher performance when leaders acted high (low) in extraversion. We discuss theoretical and practical implications for leadership and proactivity. Read full article.

September 22, 2012

Book: Begegnungen mit Steve de Shazer und Insoo Kim Berg

There is a new German book with memories of Steve de Shazer and Insoo Kim Berg (pioneers of the solution-focused approach) called Begegnungen mit Steve de Shazer und Insoo Kim Berg. In the book, many other well-known solution-focused pioneers share their personal (such as Eve Lipchik, Wally Gingerich, Gale Miller, Peter De Jong and many others) memories of them.

September 19, 2012

Solution-Focused Coaching of Staff of People With Severe and Moderate Intellectual Disabilities

Solution-Focused Coaching of Staff of People With Severe and Moderate Intellectual Disabilities: A Case Series

John M. Roeden, Marian A. Maaskant, Fredrike P. Bannink, & Leopold M. G. Curfs 

Abstract: Solution-focused coaching (SFC) represents a short-term, future-focused, and person-directed therapeutic approach that helps people focus on solutions rather than problems. Thirteen cases of SFC of staff dealing with people with severe and moderate intellectual disabilities (S/MID) are described. In all 13 cases, the progress toward the team goal, proactive thinking of staff, and the quality of the relationship (QOR) between staff and people with S/MID were measured directly before SFC, directly after SFC, and 6 weeks after SFC. After SFC, progress toward the team goal was found in seven out of 13 teams, improvement of proactive thinking was found in 5/10 teams and improvement of the QOR was found in 7/13 teams. With regard to individual staff members, improvement of proactive thinking was found in 12/34 staff members and improvement of the QOR was found in 22/42 staff members. The authors note that SFC stimulates dealing with support problems in a behavioral, proactive way and that SFC can be a useful approach to build useful relationships. The findings are in line with results of earlier research on the value of solution-focused brief therapy applied to carers (parents or professionals) of people with ID. Future investigation of SFC, preferably using a randomized controlled design, could test the hypothesis that SFC can increase self-efficacy and proactive thinking in teams, can positively alter staff's perceptions of people with ID, and that teams find it a useful approach.

September 7, 2012

Solution-Focused vs. Problem-Focused Questions

Making Positive Change: A Randomized Study Comparing Solution-Focused vs. Problem-Focused Coaching Questions

By Anthony M. Grant

Abstract: This study compared the effects of problem-focused and solution-focused coaching questions on positive and negative affect, self-efficacy, goal approach, and action planning. A total of 225 participants were randomly assigned to either a problem-focused or solution-focused coaching condition. All participants described a real-life problem that they wanted to solve and set a goal to solve that problem. They then completed a set of measures that assessed levels of positive and negative affect, self-efficacy, and goal attainment. In the problem-focused coaching condition 108 participants then responded to a number of problem-focused coaching questions and then completed a second set of measures. The 117 participants in a solution-focused coaching session completed a mirror image of the problem-focused condition, responding to solution-focused questions including the “Miracle Question.”

September 6, 2012

10 Suggestions for how to combine autonomy and structure

This video, which was inspired by a book chapter by Reeve and Assor (2011), explains how both structure and individual autonomy are important in social systems. Structure can provide coherence, clarity and efficiency; autonomy is a universal human psychological need the fulfillment of which contributes to human wellness. Structure and individual autonomy can be viewed as competing demands but this does not have to be so. They can be combined. When this happens the benefits of both can be reaped. So, how can it be done?

Here is an attempt to formulate some suggestions (again, partly, inspired by Reeve and Assor) for how to do that:

September 5, 2012

Two lesser known disadvantages of fixed mindsets

As you may know, how we think about our own qualities has a big impact on how we feel, how we behave, how we learn and how we perform. Thinking our abilities (such as our intelligence) are fixed (this is called a fixed mindset) makes us less challenge seeking and less persistent and also more defensive. Also our performance is lower over time. A growth mindset, thinking that our qualities can be developed through effort, leads to more challenge seeking, persistence, openness, learning and performance over time.

Thinking about others' qualities as fixed also has consequences such as being quicker to stereotype and label people, to be less open to new information about people, and to punish them quicker when they have done something wrong. In a chapter in a new book, Carol Dweck mentions two lesser known finding with respect to mindsets.

September 2, 2012

Situational cues can trigger materialism leading to negative personal and social consequences

Cuing Consumerism. Situational Materialism Undermines Personal and Social Well-Being

By Monika A. Bauer, James E. B. Wilkie, Jung K. Kim, and Galen V. Bodenhausen

Abstract: Correlational evidence indicates that materialistic individuals experience relatively low levels of well-being. Across four experiments, we found that situational cuing can also trigger materialistic mind-sets, with similarly negative personal and social consequences. Merely viewing desirable consumer goods resulted in increases in materialistic concerns and led to heightened negative affect and reduced social involvement (Experiment 1). Framing a computer task as a “Consumer Reaction Study” led to a stronger automatic bias toward values reflecting self-enhancement, compared with framing the same task as a “Citizen Reaction Study” (Experiment 2). Consumer cues also increased competitiveness (Experiment 3) and selfishness in a water-conservation dilemma (Experiment 4). Thus, the costs of materialism are not localized only in particularly materialistic people, but can also be found in individuals who happen to be exposed to environmental cues that activate consumerism—cues that are commonplace in contemporary society.

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