November 22, 2015

How to develop persistence?

Psychologist Angela Duckworth chose the term grit to describe people's ability to work hard and keep on focusing on their long term goals. According to Duckworth this ability enables people to accomplish a lot in their lives. If one views grit as something worthwhile (which it indeed seems to be although I also have several critical questions about the construct) one might wonder how to develop it.

November 21, 2015

Spreading Western values?

A few hundred years ago, since the scientific revolution, the age of enlightenment, and the industrial revolution, an explosive progress has taken place in prosperity, health, freedom, and justice. This progress begin in Western countries and is now spreading across the world. This development is a long term process. There is still much poverty and injustice in the world and thus much further progress needed.

Some skeptics think that spreading the values and principles which have contributed to such great progress in the Western world actually comes down to spreading Western values. Therefore, it would be a way to establish Western dominance.

November 16, 2015

Letting go of irrational beliefs

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.

November 14, 2015

Believing in progress is not the same as believing in perfection

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.

November 12, 2015

Autonomous motivation: interesting and/or important

I'd like to clear up a possible misunderstanding about the distinction between intrinsic motivation (doing what you find interesting) and internalized motivation (doing what you find important). Ed Deci explains in this video that the distinction between controlled and autonomous motivation is an important one. Our motivation is controlled when we are either coerced or seduced into a behavior. When our motivation is controlled we may experience stress and anxiety. Also, we find it harder to persist and the quality of our performance is relatively low. When we are autonomously motivated we experience willingness and volition. We also feel and perform better and persist longer.

November 10, 2015

The power of intrinsic goals

New research shows two interesting things: 1) that people achieve more progress on goals which are connected to intrinsic aspirations, and 2) that people experience greater vitality when when making progress on intrinsic goals.

The humble path to progress: Goal-specific aspirational content predicts goal progress and goal vitality
- Hope, Milyavskaya, Holding & Koestner (2015)

November 3, 2015

Study: old people better at correcting their mistakes than young people

That most of our abilities decline as we age, is a fact. But is this equally true for all our abilities? No. In this article I write that certain abilities can grow into old age. Also, I write that certain meta-cognitions such as mildness may increase and attitudes such as egocentrism may decrease. In this article I mention several other examples. This week I came across another example of something which we may get better at as we get older.

November 2, 2015

How intelligent people can keep believing in what is not true

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.

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