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Showing posts from September, 2016

Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future

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The Swede Johan Norberg has written a book in which he describes how the world has made progress in many areas. The book, titled Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future , has ten chapters in which the following topics are treated: food, sanitation, life expectancy, poverty, violence, the environment, literacy, freedom, equality, and children's rights and perspectives. In his treatment of these topics Norberg uses vivid examples and a lot of objective data. Even if you have read some things about the great progress in the world, you will probably still come across some informative new material in this book. The book is interesting although I have a point of criticism.

Deep work: learning faster and deeper, performing better

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Teresa Amabile advocated, based on her research, for, at least on several days of the week, making time to focus and work undisturbed, at least for half an hour to an hour, on work that is most meaningful for you ( see here ). Cal Newport, professor of computer science and author of the book Deep work goes a step further. He argues that in nearly every profession a much better productivity and more satisfaction can be achieved by using an approach he calls deep work.

Making beliefs unfalsifiable

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You would think that people only hold beliefs based on their veracity but that is not the case. Of course, people do have beliefs because they think they are true but there are also other reasons for holding beliefs. Those reasons have to do with various psychological and social goals we have. Some examples of this are: wanting to see the world as orderly, meaningful and secure, viewing one's own group as morally good, feeling that you belong to a group, and having influence or power over other people.

Two components of positive communication

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Negativity in conversations can put a strain on relationships and can make cooperation harder. Negativity, such as criticism and blame, can make people defensive . While they are in a defensive state of mind, their ability for nuanced and creative thinking is temporarily reduced. Instead, they may try to justify their own behavior or launch a counterattack. Whenever people feel they are approached negatively their reflex is to respond negatively. Both the content of what they say and the way they are saying it is likely to become more negative.

How do we increase our resistance against falsehoods?

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Often, it is not so easy to determine whether something is true or false. There are often multiple sides to issues and sometimes a great deal of knowledge is required to be able to come to a good judgment. Even experts can have radically different views on such issues. But it also often happens that the distinction between false and true can be unambiguously made.

The important difference between emotional well-being and satisfaction with life

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The happiness which you experience in a situation differs from how positive you think about the situation afterwards. In the same way, there is an important difference between experiencing emotional well-being and life satisfaction. Psychologist Daniel Kahneman and economist Angis Deaton (photo) have formulated important insights about these topics which I will try to summarize below.

Should we make happiness the focus of our lives?

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How important should we consider being happy? Should it be a general goal in our life to be happy? Or should it perhaps even be the ultimate goal we should have as a person? Must we see happiness as the main goal in many or all domains of our life, such as work and education? While happiness as a goal sounds quite important, perhaps we should not conclude too quickly that our life resolves or should revolve around happiness only. What happiness precisely is, how we achieve it, and to what extent we should focus on it, may harder to answer that you might think.

3 Ways in which psychology is trying to make progress

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As you may have read, there is much ado in psychology about the correctness of previously found research findings. While some scientists have responded somewhat defensively to this, others are seriously trying to improve the quality of psychological research. Here are three ways in which they try to do that.

Which types of goals when?

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There are different types of goals. What are the differences and when does which type of goal work best? In a new article, Latham & Seijts (2016) summarize the findings of goals-setting theory (GST; Locke & Latham, 1990 ; 2013 ), a well supported theory about how goals work. GST-research has shown that setting specific, challenging goals lead to higher performance than easy and abstract goals. The general rule is that higher goals lead to higher performance providing four conditions have been met: the individual is competent for the goals, has sufficient situational resources, is committed and receives objective feedback on goal progress.