April 29, 2017

What do you choose, running or walking?

These last years have seen a growing attention to the positive effects of physical exercise, not only on our general physical fitness but also on our brain fitness. Many who have heard about these positive effects have started to run or walk more frequently. Also many people have installed an app on their cell phones which counts their daily steps. Bit what is actually better, running or walking? You might think that running has more positive effects but also leads to more injuries. Julia Belluz also wondered about this and checked the scientific literature to answer this question.

April 24, 2017

The learning and performing model

After I wrote this post I talked to several people about the importance of making the distinction between learning and performing. Most people I talked to found this distinction interesting and valuable and were interested in the three phases I mention: the preparation phase, the execution phase, and the reflection phase. Generally, people found these stages useful and they said they would like to pay more attention to preparation and reflection.

April 22, 2017

Why do we bounce back from failure better when we have a growth mindset?

We know that we generally bounce back from failure better when we have a growth mindset than when we have a fixed mindset (Dweck, 1999). This has to do with the fact that we interpret failing differently in different mindsets and because of that we also feel and behave differently. In a growth mindset we view failure as a consequence of not having put in enough effort or not having used an effective strategy (read more).

April 21, 2017

The effects of envy and admiration

You meet someone who is obviously better at something than you are. What do you feel? Do you admire the person? Do you feel envy? What are the effects of these different emotions? Below you can first read about social comparison theory, which has something useful to say about these phenomena. Then, I mention new research by Niels van de Ven about the effects of these different emotions.

April 20, 2017

The growth mindset and intrinsic motivation contribute independently to persistence

One way to describe what the progress-focused approach means is captured in a model which I introduced in my book Kiezen voor progressie. The model (see figure right) describes how both a growth mindset and autonomous motivation contribute to effective effort and how effort in turn creates progress. In this post you read more about this model and it may be used. Looking at this model you might wonder if there should also be an arrow between the growth mindset and autonomous motivation. Do these two influence each other, too? I have thought this before and several people have asked me about it. As far as I know it has been studied only once.

April 16, 2017

How does grading affect motivation?

Research guided by self-determination theory has shown that factors like punishment, rewards, threats, coercion, and competition can undermine the quality of motivation of individuals. When those factors are applied the autonomous motivation of individuals, which consists of intrinsic motivation and internalized motivation, can be diminished (read more about autonomous motivation). In such circumstances a more controlled motivation can emerge which generally comes with anxiety, tension, and worse performance. One factor which also can harm autonomous motivation is grading performance in schools. A new study by Krijgsman et al. (2017) explores the relationship between performance grading and students motivation in physical education (N=409).

April 15, 2017

The Emerging Neuroscience of Intrinsic Motivation

A new paper by Di Domenico & Ryan (2017) describes how a neuroscience of intrinsic motivation is emerging. Intrinsic motivation is the total of our spontaneous tendencies to be curious and interested, to seek challenges, and practice to develop our skills and knowledge even in the absence of separate rewards. Research within the framework of self-determination theory has shown that intrinsic motivation is a motivation which is present throughout the life span and which is associated with various positive effects such as learning, performing, creativity, and well-being. But intrinsic motivation is dependent on the perception of one's own competence and autonomy. If these two basic needs are thwarted, we tend to be less intrinsically motivated.

April 14, 2017

The problem with twin studies

Over roughly the last 100 years there has been a debate within the social sciences about the question how large the influence of genes and environments are on human abilities, traits, behaviors, and psychiatric and medical problems. This debate is often referred to as the nature versus nurture debate. It is not only held within the scientific community but also in popular media and by lay people. A central role in these debates is played by the so-called twin studies. Often these studies are viewed as compelling natural experiments which demonstrate the separate influence of genes and environmental factors. And they are often cited as evidence of the large influence of genes on personal characteristics such as intelligence and personality traits. But there is a growing criticism of the validity of these conclusions because there are many problems in those twin studies. A recent book by Joseph (2015) explains in detail what the many problems in twin studies are.

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