January 26, 2017

We need a revival of the belief in the relevance of evidence

In this post from 2011 I shared my views on the knowability of reality. I argued against the idea that all knowledge is (equally) relative and for the notion that reality is (at least to some extent) knowable and that is very important to acknowledge this. I summarized my points as follows:
"I argue against: 1) saying that reality does not exist, 2) saying that reality is unknowable to us, 3) saying that we should not bother trying to refine our understanding of reality, 4) saying that there is no sense in trying to distinguish between the validity of one truth claim and another, and 5) calling one's view on the world 'one's truth' (and therefore saying that everyone has his own truth and that everyone's truth is equally valid).

January 24, 2017

The Power of Countdown Timers

To learn and perform well you need to be able to focus well on what you are doing. In this article I explained what the benefits are of deep concentration and what disadvantages are of being interrupted and distracted during work. Focus is important. It is also important to realize that it is impossible to focus all day long. It is probably not wise or even possible to focus deeply for more than 4 or 5 hours a day. Focusing longer does not only fail to lead to extra gains, it also can be harmful. It may lead to mental exhaustion.

January 22, 2017

The Status Quo Bias: Barrier to Progress

If we define progress as development in the direction of a better situation then from this definition it follows that progress is something good. Much research has suggested that the feeling of making progress is good for us in various ways. Roughly it can be said that the perception of progress is associated with more positive emotions, more motivation, and better performance. You would say that choosing progress is always easy. But it isn't. 

January 19, 2017

Carol Dweck on the Foundation of Mindset

Growth mindset is on a firm foundation, but we’re still building the house

~ Carol Dweck, January 18, 2017

In science, we build a firm foundation and then we keep renovating the house. We find interesting results, we are fascinated by them, we don’t always trust them, so we go back and replicate them. We also challenge them by asking, where will this not work? When does the effect go away? How can we use better methods to test our theories? As part of this process, scientists ask each other questions. Recently, other scientists asked us some questions about three of our papers. We took this very seriously, carefully considered each inquiry, delved into the studies again (in some cases reanalyzing the data), and prepared three documents, each detailing our process and our findings (here, here, and here). In each case, we showed that the conclusions reached in the paper were sound. But, as with anything that helps make science better, we were grateful for the questions because they pointed out areas for improvement or clarity, and because we believe in open science. It is important however to consider these questions in light of a large body of work. The growth mindset story does not rest on a handful of isolated studies. Research in this area has been ongoing for 30 years and the field has amassed a large body of work. A meta-analysis published in 2013 found 113 studies conducted by many authors and concluded that mindsets are a significant factor in people’s self-regulation toward goals.

Read full post on the Mindset Scholars Network»

Don't write off mindset theory yet

In my previous post I mentioned recent criticism of research into mindset. As I wrote in that post I view it as a good thing that the concept of mindset is criticized. For knowledge to develop anything can and should be criticized. Part of the criticism doesn't convince me, and part of it I find interesting and seems justified (for example some of the points made by Brown and Bates). The article on Buzzfeed which I mentioned contains interesting points but is also a bit one-sided. The impression is given that mindset theory is based only on a few studies and that theses studies' findings are questionable.

January 15, 2017

Criticisms of mindset research

The replication crisis within psychology has been rather big news over the last few years (read more). Findings of well-known psychologists about topics like willpower/ego depletion, powerposes, priming, and facial feedback have been scrutinized and to some extent debunked. Recently, criticism has also emerged of the research into mindsets by Carol Dweck and her colleagues. I have written a lot about mindset and I think it is a valuable and useful concept. But, as I write here:

January 13, 2017

10 Questions to help you fulfill your basic needs

Self-determination theory distinguishes three universal basic psychological needs, the need for autonomy, for competence, and for relatedness. The fulfillment of these needs is necessary for us to feel well and function well. The need for autonomy refers to the experience of being able to make your own choices and to stand behind what you are doing. The need for competence refers to the experience of being effective and capable of achieving desired outcomes. The need for relatedness refers to the experience of a mutual connection with and care for important people your life. Recent research by González-Cutre et al. (2016) indicates there may be a fourth basic need: the need for novelty, the need to keep on experiencing new things which deviate from your daily routine.

January 12, 2017

Motivated reasoning

Have you ever noticed that people sometimes argue in ways which seem do not seem to correspond to reality but which, instead, only seem to serve their own interests? You probably have. Psychologist refer to this phenomenon as motivated reasoning. Motivated reasoning is reasoning in such ways that your own beliefs, interests, behaviors, and goals are served. It is not something which only some people do. We all do it, sometimes consciously, often unconsciously.

January 10, 2017

How I overcame my fear of speaking to groups

During a recent training course we asked participants to do an exercise which we call 'What have you learned?' In this exercise we ask them to talk, in duo's, about something which they once doubted they could ever get better at but which they eventually did get better at. With the help of some questions they talked about what that thing was at which they got better against their own expectation and how they were able to get better. This exercise is an example of a self persuasion technique (read more).

January 9, 2017

Naive realism: undetected cause of many conflicts

All of us experience reality in a distorted way and we are mostly unaware of that this happens and how this happens. Here is a list of well-known human biases. On this list is a bias called naive realism. This bias plays a special role. It can be seen as the mother of all biases. Naive realism, a term coined by Lee Ross, is the wrong belief that reality is just like we experience it. In other words, it is the cognitive mechanism which blinds us to the many biases we fall prey to.

January 8, 2017

Comparative advantage: why capitalisme is not inherently bad

Someone asked me, some time ago, why I do not see capitalism in its core as something bad but as something good (see here). This person argued, in brief, that capitalism is the cause of much misery in the world, such as poverty, corruption, and the subversion of democracy. Moreover, this person said, capitalism is inherently bad because it is always a matter of exploitation. If two parties trade with each other and one of the parties makes a profit, that profit has to come from somewhere. This then must mean that the other party is exploited, in other words, must make a loss. 

January 7, 2017

The fundamental attribution error: the underestimation of the power of the situation

Richard Nisbett, who I have mentioned here before, has written a brief but interesting article about the fundamental attribution error.Together with Lee Ross, he once wrote a classical book about this, The Person and the Situation. The fundamental attribution error means that we systematically underestimate the influence of situations, structures, and systems on our behavior en systematically overestimate the influence of personal traits and dispositions on our behavior. As Nisbett says it: we are, wrongly, inclined to think about human behavior in purely dispositional terms. 

January 6, 2017

The social contagiousness of mindsets

All of us are constantly exposed to all kinds of stimuli from our environment which affect how we feel and how we think about ourselves and about the world. An example of how we are affected is our mindset. Some events, remarks, and expectations that come our way evoke a fixed mindset in us while others evoke a growth mindset. The prime example of this is the differential effect of different types of praise.

January 5, 2017

Moment of spontaneous progress

Sometimes you don't expect progress but it still happens. These are interesting moments which are useful to analyze.

January 4, 2017

8 Growth mindset interventions

Many of the participants in our training programs are especially interested in Carol Dweck's research into mindsets. They see the relevance of mindset and realize that a fixed mindset has many disadvantages while a growth mindset has many advantages. They are interested in learning how they can influence their own mindset and that of other people. Many of them are aware that person praise can evoke a fixed mindset and process praise can evoke a growth mindset. But they look for other way to influence mindsets. Here are several other ways.

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