Showing posts from May, 2015

On criticizing concepts and methods

A while ago I wrote about the importance of combining hope and critical thinking . Hope without critical thinking is naïveté; critical thinking without hope is cynicism; lack of both is apathy, is argued in that post. That combination is not only important in general in life but also, and especially when we read about approaches or methods which are claimed to be able to improve our life or our work. One of the reasons for me to think about this topic is that I received an interesting mail by David Creelman  which I will summarize below. David started saying that scientific rigor is important because it discredits cherished false beliefs and snake-oil solutions. He went on to say that also more serious concepts and approaches like work engagement, the innovator's dilemma, and the growth mindset come in for criticism. He said: "I feel it's only a matter of time before someone writes a harsh critique of the growth mindset." He then pointed out that there is a risk

5 Benefits of asking for help

Frequently, I have heard people say: "I'd rather not ask for help. I think I have to solve this myself." This way of this thinking surely has something admirable and sympathetic about it. Probably, people saying such things have a strong sense of responsibility. They think they should be able to solve their problem on their own without bothering other people. But I think it is good to be aware of another way of viewing asking for help. Asking for help can have many benefits, especially for yourself, but also for other people. Here are a few benefits of asking for help:

Existence of ego depletion very doubtful

Previous research has already shown that the ego depletion model of willpower is too simple. New research suggests ego depletion may not exist at all.  A popular concept in modern psychology is ego depletion (see Baumeister & Tierney, 2012 ). Briefly put, the ego depletion model says that self-control or willpower depends on a limited amount of mental energy. When you try to concentrate or control yourself for a long time, according to Baumeister, you use this energy and you will slowly but surely run out of it. The more this resource gets depleted the harder it gets to keep controlling yourself. This ego depletion effect is supposed to be general. Each task which requires self-control depletes your resources and when this happens its gets harder to control yourself for whatever task or seduction. According to Baumeister, you then need to supplement your resources, for example by eating or sleeping.

Why psychology is harder than it seems

It is understandable that exact sciences are generally viewed as the most difficult. But psychology may be harder in some ways.  One of my favorite science writers is Sean Carroll. He is a theoretical physicist at Caltech and author of the awarded book T he Particle at the End of the Universe which is about the discovery of the Higgs particle. Recently he surprisingly said: “Physics is by far the easiest science.” False modesty? Or it there some truth in it?

Reasons for skepticism about happiness research

Since the beginning of the 1980's psychologist have done much research into happiness. Often instead of the term happiness terms like subjective well-being are used. I remember that I once read somewhere that Ed Diener, pioneer in the field, had chosen this name because it sounded more scientific that the term happiness. Positive psychology, which emerged around the year 2000, has emphasized the importance of happiness a lot and of finding out which factors foster it. Since then many books and articles have been publishes about happiness and its determinants. In those publications factors where often mentioned like: (1) expressing gratitude, (2) cultivating optimism, (3) building and maintaining relationships, (5) searching flow experiences, (6) practicing religious and spiritual activities, and (7) practicing meditation (this list is not exhaustive).