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Showing posts from 2015

The power of intrinsic rewards is great but soon forgotten

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Research into self-determination theory has shown that doing things we find interesting has many positive effects. Doing interesting work in intrinsically rewarding. This means that the doing of the work is so interesting and pleasurable that we need no encouragement to want to do it. When we do such activities we tend to be more engaged, we learn and perform better and we persist longer. By the way, what makes activities interesting is not only determined by the content of the activity bit also by the context in which we are doing it, for example the pleasant social interactions we have when doing the activity.

Overconfidence and the fixed mindset

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Research has shown that many people tend to overestimate their own capabilities. This overconfidence may undermine performance and relationships with other people. This tendency of people to be overconfident is often thought to be universal. New research, however, shows that this is not the case. It shows that people with a fixed mindset are more vulnerable to overconfidence.

Letting go of irrational beliefs

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Being able to change your beliefs is necessary for keeping on playing a positive role in the world. Not being able to think critically about your own beliefs and to change them when they are not true eventually will keep you from playing a constructive role. An ultimate example of the inability to change one's views can be found in religious fanatics who create death and destruction while believing they are doing something good. Letting go of beliefs can be important but also hard.

Believing in progress is not the same as believing in perfection

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Recently, a debate took place between Steven Pinker and Matt Ridley on the one site and Malcolm Gladwell and Alain de Botton on the other side. The debate was about the motion 'human kind's best days lie ahead'. Pinker and Ridley defended the motion, Gladwell and de Botton argued against it. You can watch the debate here .

How intelligent people can keep believing in what is not true

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How can it be that we sometimes keep holding on to certain beliefs of which we could know, and perhaps deep inside do know, that they are not true? Think about things like magical thinking, superstition and views which logically can't be true and things we have proven to be untrue? In a new article, Believing What We Do Not Believe: Acquiescence to Superstitious Beliefs and Other Powerful Intuitions , Jane Risen looks at this question from the perspective of dual process models such as Kahneman's model distinguishing system 1 and 2 thinking.

What is a growth mindset not?

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Perhaps a growth mindset sounds attractive. But perhaps it also sounds to good to be true. Therefore, let's have a look at what a growth mindset is and what it is not. Briefly put, a growth mindset is the belief that you can change your abilities though the investment of effective effort. People do not simply either have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. Mindset is not like a switch with just two modes: fixed or growth. Instead, there are many degrees possible. It is better to think of mindset as a continuum than as a switch. Furthermore, mindset can be subject to fluctuations. Influences from our environment continuously act on how we think about the malleability of our abilities. In addition to that, it is normal to have different mindsets with respect to different topics. We may believe that we are able to develop certain abilities but may never improve other abilities.

What do you choose: mastery goals or performance goals?

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An important distinction in psychology is the distinction between mastery goals and performance goals. Mastery goals are goals which focus on learning new knowledge and skills. Performance goals are about achieving and competing for outcomes. This distinction is important for education. Should you focus on teaching students to set mastery goals or is it wiser to teach them to set performance goals? What works better?

4 Factors which impede change of beliefs

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Because beliefs have such great influence in our lives, it is important to be able to evaluate our beliefs properly and to keep developing them. Beliefs are malleable. We can find out that a belief we used to have is untrue and restricts us in our life. But changing our beliefs is not always easy. That is because, as people, we have certain obstacles which may impede changing our beliefs. I want to mention four of those obstacles.

Activity scheduling and depression

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There are different types of ways to deal with mental problems such as depression. Three such ways are: (1) taking medication, (2) going into therapy, and (3) helping yourself to solve it. A lot of research has been done into the efficacy of (1) and (2). Less research has been done into (3). There is a non-cynical interpretation of this but also a more cynical interpretation. I don't know which interpretation is more valid. There may be truth in both of them.

Choosing better education and a growth mindset

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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.

The limiting effects of implicit self-beliefs

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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'.

Review of Leadership BS by Jeffrey Pfeffer

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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.

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

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Implicit theories about willpower predict subjective well-being by Katharina Bernecker, Marcel Herrmann, Veronika Brandstätter 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.

Mental effort can be contagious

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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.

The leftward drift

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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.

5 Dimensions of belief systems

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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

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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.

Solving the replication problem in social science

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Today, a team of researchers has made a good contribution to solving the replication problem in social science.  Previously, I wrote about what science is and why it is important (see Improving science ). In that piece I used the picture below to describe some essential parts of the scientific process. Each of these parts are links in the chain of the scientific process and play an essential role in making science function well. In several of these links there are some serious weaknesses which threaten the quality of science.

Alfie Kohn's misleading critique of Carol Dweck

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Alfie Kohn has written an new article entitled The perils of “Growth Mindset” education: Why we’re trying to fix our kids when we should be fixing the system . The article is critical of the popularity of idea of the growth mindset. Kohn says the growth mindset concept was a promising idea but got over-simplified - something against which Carol Dweck did not object enough according to Kohn - and has now been coopted by conservative ideology. While Kohn's article raises some valid points, I disagree with its general contention.

Review of Mindware: tools for smart thinking by Richard Nisbett

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Psychologist Richard Nisbett has written a new book called Mindware: tools for smart thinking. I think it is essential reading for students of psychology. Here is my review. As a psychology student in the 1980s I first learned about the work of the Richard Nisbett. Together with Lee Ross (who coined the term fundamental attribution error; which I will come back to later) he wrote the classic book Human Inference (1980) about how people use rules of thumb in social judgment and decision making and about how we often systematic mistakes in the way we judge events and people. Nisbett & Ross' work build on and was closely related to the work done by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman.

Written feedback using the plus, the arrow, and the question mark

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Giving written feedback using the plus, the arrow, and the question mark can make your feedback more useful and the process of giving feedback more pleasant. Many people frequently receive written feedback to what they have written themselves. Written feedback can fulfill an important function. Other people may have more knowledge and a different perspective which may enable you to learn from them. Also, feedback may help you check whether what you have written is clear and comes across as you intended.

Is there such a thing as civilization?

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Is there such a things as civilization? Or is what we call civilization an illusion and would we be wiser to return to our natural state?  A central theme in the discourse about progress was the difference between the views of the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) and the French philosopher (from Swiss origin) Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778). Hobbes view people as naturally cruel and violent, in other words as bad. In his book Leviathan , he explained that the solution for this problem is a monarchy or other form of government which represents the will of the people and has the monopoly on violence.  He saw civilization as a way of curbing people's badness.

Activating a student

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I came across a beautiful example of activating a student in a progress-focused manner.  Tina teaches high school students in a special boarding school. During the brief period (usually several months) in which these students are at the boarding school they work independently on their subjects most of the time and whenever they need some help or explanation Tina and their colleagues provide it to them. Of course, every now and then the students also have to take tests. Tina frequently uses progress-focused principles and techniques such as growth mindset interventions and autonomy supportive interventions. Every day, she writes brief observation/reflection diary entries, both for her own purpose and to inform her colleagues about what happened on that day. I have read and remembered one of the recent entries in that diary. I went something like this.

Working in solitude on very ambitious goals

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New research suggests how people may work in solitude on very ambitious goals and feel good about it.  Some famous artists and scientists from the past must have set extraordinary ambitious goals for themselves and must have worked for extremely long periods of time in solitude on their work and discoveries. For example, it is known that Isaac Newton, generally viewed as one of the greatest scientific geniuses of all time, who was highly productive as well, spend many years working in relative solitude. I have sometimes wondered how such people have managed to accomplish such things and to what extent they experienced gratification about their life style. I came across two articles by Thuy-vy Nguyen which give a clue about how some people are able to lead and bear such lives.

The real lesson from the Stanford prison experiment?

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Which lesson can we draw from the Stanford prison experiment?  The Stanford prison experiment , designed and conducted by Philip Zimbardo in 1971, is one of the most famous experiments in psychology. In the basement of Stanford University an imitation of a prison was built. Students who participated in the study were randomly assigned the role of prisoner or guard. Zimbardo himself also participated in the experiment in the role of superintendent. The standard interpretation of the findings of the study is something like: after a while prisoners started to behave helplessly and submissively while guards started behaving cruel and abusively. The experiment was stopped after a student who conducted interviews in the imitation prison objected to the cruelty of what was happening.

Feedback in Three Steps

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© 2003, Coert Visser As a manager you have just led a meeting. John brought forward a proposal to implement a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. He did this convincingly and enthusiastically but seemed to leave very little room for his colleagues Michael and Peter to respond. You want to talk to John about this...but how?

The plus behind the minus: which questions can you ask?

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Several years ago, I introduced the technique of ' finding the plus behind the minus '. The basic I idea behind it is that when people express themselves negatively (through a complaint, a reproach, or criticism) there is always something positive behind that negative expression. That positive thing is something which they find valuable or important, a value, a principle, a goal, of whatever you want to call it. Briefly, the technique comes down to searching for that plus behind the minus. In our progress-focused training programs we frequently practice this technique with our participants, especially in cases which deal with resistance of conflicts. When you are trying to help people in a conflict situation to express the plus behind their minus this has several benefits. First, they themselves find it helpful and pleasant to be able to explain more clearly what their preferred situation is. Second, it will be more acceptable and clear for the other person or people involved

The basement metaphor: finding past successes in the basement of our brain

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One of the important parts of the progress-focused approach is to make visible what has worked in the past. Progress-focused coaches, for example, ask their clients questions about their past successes. When those clients find examples of past successes they generally become more positive and optimistic. Furthermore, they often come up with some ideas about how they might take a step forward. This might sound a bit strange. Why would something which has worked before not be visible right away? Why should you make an effort to make it visible? You have already experienced it, haven't you? And it was a positive experience. Why wouldn't you remember it, anyway? 

On criticizing concepts and methods

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A while ago I wrote about the importance of combining hope and critical thinking . Hope without critical thinking is naïveté; critical thinking without hope is cynicism; lack of both is apathy, is argued in that post. That combination is not only important in general in life but also, and especially when we read about approaches or methods which are claimed to be able to improve our life or our work. One of the reasons for me to think about this topic is that I received an interesting mail by David Creelman  which I will summarize below. David started saying that scientific rigor is important because it discredits cherished false beliefs and snake-oil solutions. He went on to say that also more serious concepts and approaches like work engagement, the innovator's dilemma, and the growth mindset come in for criticism. He said: "I feel it's only a matter of time before someone writes a harsh critique of the growth mindset." He then pointed out that there is a risk

5 Benefits of asking for help

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Frequently, I have heard people say: "I'd rather not ask for help. I think I have to solve this myself." This way of this thinking surely has something admirable and sympathetic about it. Probably, people saying such things have a strong sense of responsibility. They think they should be able to solve their problem on their own without bothering other people. But I think it is good to be aware of another way of viewing asking for help. Asking for help can have many benefits, especially for yourself, but also for other people. Here are a few benefits of asking for help:

Existence of ego depletion very doubtful

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Previous research has already shown that the ego depletion model of willpower is too simple. New research suggests ego depletion may not exist at all.  A popular concept in modern psychology is ego depletion (see Baumeister & Tierney, 2012 ). Briefly put, the ego depletion model says that self-control or willpower depends on a limited amount of mental energy. When you try to concentrate or control yourself for a long time, according to Baumeister, you use this energy and you will slowly but surely run out of it. The more this resource gets depleted the harder it gets to keep controlling yourself. This ego depletion effect is supposed to be general. Each task which requires self-control depletes your resources and when this happens its gets harder to control yourself for whatever task or seduction. According to Baumeister, you then need to supplement your resources, for example by eating or sleeping.

Why psychology is harder than it seems

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It is understandable that exact sciences are generally viewed as the most difficult. But psychology may be harder in some ways.  One of my favorite science writers is Sean Carroll. He is a theoretical physicist at Caltech and author of the awarded book T he Particle at the End of the Universe which is about the discovery of the Higgs particle. Recently he surprisingly said: “Physics is by far the easiest science.” False modesty? Or it there some truth in it?

Reasons for skepticism about happiness research

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Since the beginning of the 1980's psychologist have done much research into happiness. Often instead of the term happiness terms like subjective well-being are used. I remember that I once read somewhere that Ed Diener, pioneer in the field, had chosen this name because it sounded more scientific that the term happiness. Positive psychology, which emerged around the year 2000, has emphasized the importance of happiness a lot and of finding out which factors foster it. Since then many books and articles have been publishes about happiness and its determinants. In those publications factors where often mentioned like: (1) expressing gratitude, (2) cultivating optimism, (3) building and maintaining relationships, (5) searching flow experiences, (6) practicing religious and spiritual activities, and (7) practicing meditation (this list is not exhaustive).

Ending downward spirals by replacing them with upward spirals

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One of the most interesting aspects of the book The upward spiral by Alex Korb is thinking in terms of downward and upward spirals in human functioning. The concept of a spiral is based on what is called a positive feedback loop, a loop of cause and effect which continues and amplifies itself. A simple example of a positive feedback loop is a microphone which is held closely to a speaker. It will pick up the sound of the speaker and amplifies that again and again and again. The result is a shrill high tone. In human functioning these positive feedback loops can also happen in all kinds of ways. When the consequences of such positive feedback loops are negative we may speak of downward spirals; when they are positive of upward spirals. Such spirals can happen in many areas of life. I will give some examples. 

Equality bias (making the Dunning-Kruger effect worse)

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Frequent readers of this website know the Dunning-Kruger effect ( Kruger & Dunning, 1999 ). Briefly put this effects says: incompetent people do not know how incompetent they are. The reason for this is that in order to be able to know how competent you are at something you need to have knowledge about that competence domain. People who know very little about a topic do not realize how much there is to know about that topic and therefore how much competence they lack. The Dunning-Kruger effect means that people who are not so competent at something are inclined to overestimate their own competence. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as confident ignorance.

The upward spiral: getting rid of your depression step by step

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Neuroscientist Alex Korb has written an interesting book about depression called The upward spiral . A core idea in his book is that depression is not simply a state in which you feel badly but rather a downward spiral. What he means by this is that while you feel depressed you are inclined to do things which do not relieve your depression but maintain or aggravate it. Things such as physical activity, social contact, and thinking about happy memories, among other things, might help but are precisely the type of things which you are not inclined to do when you feel depressed. Because of this, it is easy to get stuck in a depressed mood.

Changing your personality

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For a long time, within psychology, the consensus has been that personality is hardly malleable from a a certain age on (which is supposed to be around 17 years old). This assumption was largely based on findings, in longitudinal studies, that peoples scores on personality questionnaire dimensions are generally rather stable. In other words, it seems that many people describe their personality in a rather stable manner throughout their lives. But does this justify the conclusion that personality is not very malleable? I don't think it does. That many people do not appear to change their personality a lot during their adult life does not prove that it is not possible to do so, at most it suggests that it does not appear to happen too frequently.

Want-to goals make self-regulation easier than have-to goals

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The type of goals you have affects the amount of self-control you need to achieve them. When you want to achieve goals you need to be able to concentrate on the activities which help to make progress in the direction of those goals. This is not only the case with work-related goals (how can I finish that article on time?) but also with personal goals (how can I eat healthier?). Remaining focused on the activities needed to achieve goals requires that you can direct your attention. In the psychological literature this type of skill is usually referred to as self-regulation.

Races don't exist

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Nowadays we hear a lot about racism and how bad it is. Famous football players, in a UEFA campaign, are sending the message to say 'no' to racism. By using the word racism we refer to the underlying concept of race. Races, subspecies, exist throughout biology. We all understand, perhaps not precisely, but roughly what is meant when we talk about human races and racism. I say that we understand roughly what is meant, because we all associate the term race with concepts like the with race, the black race, the Jewish race, and the Asian race. I say that we do not know precisely what is meant, because we do not know exactly, for example, what makes someone a Jew, and whether Chinese people and Indian people belong to the same race. It also gets confusing when we think about the race of president Obama. Does he belong to the 'black' race? That is what is often said ("the first black president' of the United States) but what about the fact that his mother was '

The harder we push, the worse it gets

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Parents, teachers, and managers play an important role for respectively children, students, and employees. They not only have a facilitating, helping role but also a directing role. They pay attention, show understanding, they help and facilitate, they give a good example and they clarify expectations and set limits. When they fulfill their role effectively, the individuals they work with will be likely to function and develop well en feel good. These individuals are likely to engage in what they find interesting and important and to behave in well-adjusted ways and offer useful contributions.

How do you get goals that work?

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Self concordant goals, goals that fit with your interests and values have many advantages. How do you get them? It is not only important that people set goals but also what types of goals they set. Within Self-Determination Theory the term self concordant goals has been introduced. Self concordant goals are goals which are consistent with the developing interests and values of the individual. When goals are self concordant people fully endorse these goals. They are autonomously motivated to pursue them.

The discovery of science

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In 1979, Steven Weinberg (81) won the Nobel Prize in physics for his contribution to the unification of the weak nuclear force an electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles. Recently, he published an interesting book, To Explain the World , about a subject that has fascinated him for a long time: the discovery of science. First, the book takes us to the old Greeks. The civilization in Ancient Greece is generally divided into three era's: the Archaic era (roughly from 800 to 480 BC) with Athene as its center and great thinkers like Thales , Heraclitus , and Democritus , The Classical era (roughly from 500 to 323 BC) with Athens as its center and Socrates , Plato , and Artistotle as its main philosophers, and the Hellenistic era (from 334 tot 30 BC) with Alexandria as its center and Euclid , Ptolemy , and Archimedes as its greatest thinkers.

New possibilities for progress at a higher age?

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An assumption in the progress-focused approach is that all people can make progress wherever they are. For children, this is easy to understand. They are constantly learning and exploring and we constantly see them make fast progress and in many ways. Middle aged people also show all sorts of progress both in their private lives and in their careers. From age 30 to 40 we begin to see clear signs that some physical and cognitive functions no longer progress but actually start declining. Does this mean that everything is destined to go downhill from that age on? No, this is a too pessimistic view. Recent publications (for example this one and this one ) show that certain capabilities indeed decline from a certain age but other capabilities peak at a higher age and some do not peak at all (they can continue to grow stronger). Harvard researcher Laura Germine summarize how cognitive capabilities peak at different ages in this picture:

Improving your concentration by practicing

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Being able to concentrate and to keep concentrating is necessary when you are doing an important or difficult task. Doing such a task requires that you fully focus on that task and are not distracted or start mind wandering. When your mind wanders when you are doing a difficult task you must divide your attention between the task and the mind wandering. This means you are doing two things at the same time; you are multitasking. Research has shown that we are rather bad at multitasking. When we are mind wandering when doing a challenging task our performance will suffer. Such tasks require that we keep our focus on the task.

Grit: what do long term passions look like?

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Angela Duckworth is a psychologist researching grit. Grit is the quality of people to work hard and keep focusing on their long term goals, or their long term passions. Grit consists of two aspects: resilience, the ability to continue after setbacks, and consistent long term goals or passions. People with much grit are less easily distracted and conquer setbacks and obstacles more effectively (one study this was found in is Duckworth et al. (2007) . In a study by Duckworth & Quinn (2009) grit was found to be a better predictor of academic success than IQ and, surprisingly, grit was negatively correlated to IQ.

Let's change our mindset about the world

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Hans and Ola Rosling show that we know too little about the progress in the world and they explain how we can change that.  Hans Rosling, founder of the Gapminder foundation, became famous for his TED presentations about the development of the world in areas such as health, wealth and environment. In those presentations he use Tendalyzer software which made them spectacular and dynamic (see here ). They were also surprising in their content. They showed that the world has improved, and is still improving, in many ways. Examples of such improvements are decreasing child mortality, decreasing extreme poverty, better and longer education, especially for women, increase life expectancy, etc.

Why should it always have to be better?

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An assumption in progress-focused work is that people are motivated to make progress. Making progress means improving something. As coaches or trainers we work with this assumptions, for example by asking questions like: "What would you be better?" Most people who learn about the progress-focused approach are enthusiastic about this idea of focusing on desired progress. But every now and then we also get reactions which are a bit more reluctant or skeptical, such as: "Why progress? Why should we all make progress?", or: "Why should the situation become better? Why can't just of making it different instead of better?"

When facts contradict people's views they may reframe the issue in untestable ways

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A new publication shows the appeal of untestable beliefs, and how it leads to a polarized society. Read more in this Scientific American article . Here is the abstract of the publication itself: The Psychological Advantage of Unfalsifiability: The Appeal of Untestable Religious and Political Ideologies . ~ Friesen, Justin P.; Campbell, Troy H.; Kay, Aaron C. Abstract : We propose that people may gain certain “offensive” and “defensive” advantages for their cherished belief systems (e.g., religious and political views) by including aspects of unfalsifiability in those belief systems, such that some aspects of the beliefs cannot be tested empirically and conclusively refuted. This may seem peculiar, irrational, or at least undesirable to many people because it is assumed that the primary purpose of a belief is to know objective truth. However, past research suggests that accuracy is only one psychological motivation among many, and falsifiability or testability may be less importa

Looking wiser at your situation by taking some distance

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By looking at your problems from a distance, by taking a third person perspective, you may come to wiser judgments. A powerful tool for making progress in many situations in the perspective-change technique. This tool enables you to look at your situation from a third person perspective. In progress-focused coaching we use this principle by asking perspective-change questions. An example of such a question is: "How would other people notice your situation will have improved?" In this article I describe evidence for the motivating effect of visualizing such a third person perspective. In this article I describe how you can use perspective changes to prepare for difficult conversations. A new publication demonstrates that it is easier to come to wise judgments when taking a third person perspective.

Resetting during the conversation

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Have you ever experienced, as a coach or consultant, that you were in a conversation with a client and felt that the conversation wasn't going too well? I guess we all have experienced that. Perhaps the conversation wasn't going too well because your own contribution in the conversation was not the best, for example because your questions were not so relevant or your way of responding to what the other person has said was not adequate. Or maybe you were not satisfied with the conversation because your conversation partner did not seem to find the conversation useful or pleasant. You may get such an impression when they frown or seem to have some resistance. Wouldn't you like to be able to reset the conversation in such situations? Well, you can. Here is a simple way in which you can do that.

How we can age vitally

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The knowledge about how we can age vitally grows. Of course, this is not completely under our control but we can increase its chance.  In my book Progressiegericht werken  I conjecture that we can make meaningful progress into old age. I think that we can do a number of things which can increase the chance of ageing vitally. In other words, that we can keep a relatively clear and sharp mind, that we can stay relatively physically fit, and the we can keep enjoying ourselves and stay motivated. If my conjecture turns out to be right that will be very nice. Then, we will not only have been able to add 10 years, on average to our lives, over the last 50 years. We also will be ale to use these years well and live relatively happily.