August 11, 2019

Giving advice improves academic outcomes for the advisor

Eskris-Winkler et al. (2019)

Abstract: Common sense suggests that people struggling to achieve their goals benefit from receiving motivational advice. What if the reverse is true? In a preregistered field experiment, we tested whether giving motivational advice raises academic achievement for the advisor. We randomly assigned n = 1,982 high school students to a treatment condition, in which they gave motivational advice (e.g., how to stop procrastinating) to younger students, or to a control condition. Advice givers earned higher report card grades in both math and a self-selected target class over an academic quarter. This psychologically wise advice-giving nudge, which has relevance for policy and practice, suggests a valuable approach to improving achievement: one that puts people in a position to give. Read full article.

August 10, 2019

The Role of Emotional Valence for the Processing of Facial and Verbal Stimuli—Positivity or Negativity Bias?

Kauschke et al. (2019) Abstract: Emotional valence is predominately conveyed in social interactions by words and facial expressions. The existence of broad biases which favor more efficient processing of positive or negative emotions is still a controversial matter. While so far this question has been investigated separately for each modality, in this narrative review of the literature we focus on valence effects in processing both words and facial expressions. In order to identify the factors underlying positivity and negativity effects, and to uncover whether these effects depend on modality and age, we present and analyze three representative overviews of the literature concerning valence effects in word processing, face processing, and combinations of word and face processing. Our analysis of word processing studies points to a positivity bias or a balanced processing of positive and negative words, whereas the analysis of face processing studies showed the existence of separate positivity and negativity biases depending on the experimental paradigm. The mixed results seem to be a product of the different methods and types of stimuli being used. Interestingly, we found that children exhibit a clear positivity advantage for both word and face processing, indicating similar processing biases in both modalities. Over the course of development, the initial positivity advantage gradually disappears, and in some face processing studies even reverses into a negativity bias. We therefore conclude that there is a need for future research that systematically analyses the impact of age and modality on the emergence of these valence effects. Finally, we discuss possible explanations for the presence of the early positivity advantage and its subsequent decrease. Read full article.

August 9, 2019

We Need a New Science of Progress

Progress itself is understudied. By “progress,” we mean the combination of economic, technological, scientific, cultural, and organizational advancement that has transformed our lives and raised standards of living over the past couple of centuries. For a number of reasons, there is no broad-based intellectual movement focused on understanding the dynamics of progress, or targeting the deeper goal of speeding it up. We believe that it deserves a dedicated field of study. We suggest inaugurating the discipline of “Progress Studies.” Read full article.

August 8, 2019

A national experiment reveals where a growth mindset improves achievement

By Yeager et al. (2019)

Abstract: A global priority for the behavioural sciences is to develop cost-effective, scalable interventions that could improve the academic outcomes of adolescents at a population level, but no such interventions have so far been evaluated in a population-generalizable sample. Here we show that a short (less than one hour), online growth mindset intervention— which teaches that intellectual abilities can be developed—improved grades among lower-achieving students and increased overall enrolment to advanced mathematics courses in a nationally representative sample of students in secondary education in the United States. Notably, the study identified school contexts that sustained the effects of the growth mindset intervention: the intervention changed grades when peer norms aligned with the messages of the intervention. Confidence in the conclusions of this study comes from independent data collection and processing, preregistration of analyses, and corroboration of results by a blinded Bayesian analysis. Read full article.

August 7, 2019

Do Student Mindsets Differ by Socioeconomic Status and Explain Disparities in Academic Achievement in the United States?

Destin et al. (2019)

Abstract: Students from higher–socioeconomic status (SES) backgrounds show a persistent advantage in academic outcomes over lower-SES students. It is possible that students’ beliefs about academic ability, or mindsets, play some role in contributing to these disparities. Data from a recent nationally representative sample of ninth-grade students in U.S. public schools provided evidence that higher SES was associated with fewer fixed beliefs about academic ability (a group difference of .22 standard deviations). Also, there was a negative association between a fixed mindset and grades that was similar regardless of a student’s SES. Finally, student mindsets were a significant but small factor in explaining the existing relationship between SES and achievement. Altogether, mindsets appear to be associated with socioeconomic circumstances and academic achievement; however, the vast majority of the existing socioeconomic achievement gap in the U.S. is likely driven by the root causes of inequality. Read full article.

August 6, 2019

Teacher autonomy support reduces adolescent anxiety and depression

Abstract: Grounded in stageeenvironment fit theory, this study adopts a longitudinal design to examine the contribution of autonomy support from teachers to reducing adolescent anxiety and depression. A total of 236 Chinese adolescents (57.38% females, Mage ¼ 14.34) completed questionnaires on teacher autonomy support, basic psychological needs satisfaction, school engagement, anxiety, and depression in the fall and spring semesters of their 7th and 8th grade years. The results showed that teacher autonomy support in the fall of 7th grade boosted basic psychological needs satisfaction in the spring of 7th grade; this, in turn, increased school engagement in the fall of 8th grade, which subsequently decreased anxiety and depression in the spring of 8th grade. These findings demonstrated the significant effect of teacher autonomy support on reducing adolescent anxiety and depression; furthermore, it highlighted the mediating roles of basic psychological needs satisfaction and school engagement in this relationship. Read full article.

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