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Category Archive: psychology

Walking stimulates creativity

Walking stimulates creativityGive Your Ideas Some Legs: The Positive Effect of Walking on Creative Thinking
Marily Oppezzo and Daniel L. Schwartz


Abstract: Four experiments demonstrate that walking boosts creative ideation in real time and shortly after. In Experiment 1, while seated and then when walking on a treadmill, adults completed Guilford’s alternate uses (GAU) test of creative divergent thinking and the compound remote associates (CRA) test of convergent thinking. Walking increased 81% of participants’ creativity on the GAU, but only increased 23% of participants’ scores for the CRA. In Experiment 2, participants completed the GAU when seated and then walking, when walking and then seated, or when seated twice. Again, walking led to higher GAU scores. Moreover, when seated after walking, participants exhibited a residual creative boost. Experiment 3 generalized the prior effects to outdoor walking. Experiment 4 tested the effect of walking on creative analogy generation. Participants sat inside, walked on a treadmill inside, walked outside, or were rolled outside in a wheelchair. Walking outside produced the most novel and highest quality analogies. The effects of outdoor stimulation and walking were separable. Walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity and increasing physical activity

Basic psychological needs, intrinsic motivation, and academic achievement

School Culture, Basic Psychological Needs, Intrinsic Motivation and Academic Achievement: Testing a Casual Model

Badri et al. (2014)

Abstract: Culture is s common system of believes, values and artifacts that the members of a society use it in their relations, and it transfers from one generation to another. The school culture is a system of norms, meanings and values between school members. One of STD (self-determination theory) components is basic psychological needs that emphasizes on Relatedness, Competence and Autonomy to accomplish the motivation. Motivation involves the processes that energize, direct, and sustain behavior. It seems that school culture, basic psychological needs and motivation has immense effect on academic achievement. The purpose of the present research was to examine the relation between students’ perceived school culture, basic psychological needs, intrinsic motivation and academic achievement in a causal model. 296 high school students (159 females and 137 males) in Tabriz, north – west of Iran, participated in this research and completed the students’ perceived school culture questionnaire based on Hofstede’s cultural dimensions (femininity, uncertainty avoidance, collectivism and power distance), basic psychological needs and intrinsic motivation. The results of the path analysis showed that fulfillment of basic psychological needs and intrinsic motivation has positive effect on academic achievement. Uncertainty avoidance and power distance have also negative effect on fulfillment of psychological needs, but the influence of femininity on this variable was positive. Also, collectivism has no significant effect on it. In general, the findings showed that if school culture supports students’ autonomy, they will experience fulfillment of their basic psychological needs, and attain higher intrinsic motivation and academic achievement.

Teacher’s autonomy support predicts students’ autonomy and vitality

autonomy supportThe relationship between teacher’s autonomy support and students’ autonomy and vitality

Núñez et al. (2014) 

Abstract: What makes a student feel vital and energetic? Using the self-determination framework, we analyzed how the behavior and feelings of students depend on social factors such as the teachers’ attitudes. The goal of the study was to test an integrated sequence over a semester in which teacher’s autonomy support acts as a predictor of autonomy, which, in turn, predicts changes in vitality. Data were collected at three time points from 216 university students who completed the instruments during a semester. Using structural equation modeling, we obtained evidence for the hypothesized model. Implications and future perspectives are discussed. This study suggests that if teachers promote choice, minimize pressure to perform tasks in a certain way, and encourage initiative, in contrast to a controlling environment, characterized by deadlines, external rewards, or potential punishments, they will provide students with interesting experiences that are full of excitement and positive energy.

Positive stereotypes can hinder performance too

Positive stereotypesWho is good at this game? Linking an activity to a social category undermines children’s achievement

A. Cimpian, Y. Mu Y, & L.C. Erickson (2014)


Abstract: Children’s achievement-related theories have a profound impact on their academic success. Children who adopt entity theories believe that their ability to perform a task is dictated by the amount of natural talent they possess for that task–a belief that has well-documented adverse consequences for their achievement (e.g., lowered persistence, impaired performance). It is thus important to understand what leads children to adopt entity theories. In the experiments reported here, we hypothesized that the mere act of linking success at an unfamiliar, challenging activity to a social group gives rise to entity beliefs that are so powerful as to interfere with children’s ability to perform the activity. Two experiments showed that, as predicted, the performance of 4- to 7-year-olds (N = 192) was impaired by exposure to information that associated success in the task at hand with membership in a certain social group (e.g., “boys are good at this game”), regardless of whether the children themselves belonged to that group.


Also read: Even positive stereotypes can hinder performance

Saying ‘no’ effectively

Messages of encouragement that convey a growth mindset (Kahn Academy study)

encouraging a growth mindsetJascha Sohl-Dickstein, Dave Paunesku, Benjamin Haley, and Joseph Williams (see Paunesku, 2013 and this summary) conducted a study in collaboration with Kahn Academy to investigate the effects of brief messages of encouragement on learning. In an experiment with 265,082 students learning math on the Khan Academy website, brief messages encouraging a growth mindset were presented above math problems such as: “Remember, the more you practice the smarter you become!” and “If you make a mistake, it’s an opportunity to get smarter!” The study also had three control conditions. In one control condition standard encouragement messages were presented such as standard encouragement, e.g., “Some of these problems are hard. Just do your best”. In another control condition science statements, e.g., “Did you know: An elephant brains weighs 7/2 as much as a human brain.” Finally, there was a no-header control condition. Click here to read more »

Brief online mindset intervention improves students’ grades

Carefully designed mindset interventions in schools have been shown to show improvements in student’s grades over weeks or month (Blackwell et al., 2007; Good et al. 2007). Now several brief and low cost mindset interventions have also shown positive effects. Here is one example. In an experiment, conducted by Dave Paunesku, Carissa Romero, David Yeager, Greg Walton, and Carol Dweck (Paunesku, 2013) with 1,594 high school students, a 30-minute online mindset intervention in the form of a simple slide show presentation, increased the rate at which underperforming students (those in the bottom 33% by pre-study grade point average) earned satisfactory grades (As, Bs, Cs) in core academic classes. Over an entire semester, treated students earned satisfactory grades at a 14% higher rate relative to control group students (see table below). Click here to read more »

Internal and instrumental motivation

Multiple types of motives don’t multiply the motivation of West Point cadets
Wrzesniewski et al. (2014)


Abstract: Although people often assume that multiple motives for doing something will be more powerful and effective than a single motive, research suggests that different types of motives for the same action sometimes compete. More specifically, research suggests that instrumental motives, which are extrinsic to the activities at hand, can weaken internal motives, which are intrinsic to the activities at hand. We tested whether holding both instrumental and internal motives yields negative outcomes in a field context in which various motives occur naturally and long-term educational and career outcomes are at stake. We assessed the impact of the motives of over 10,000 West Point cadets over the period of a decade on whether they would become commissioned officers, extend their officer service beyond the minimum required period, and be selected for early career promotions. For each outcome, motivation internal to military service itself predicted positive outcomes; a relationship that was negatively affected when instrumental motives were also in evidence. These results suggest that holding multiple motives damages persistence and performance in educational and occupational contexts over long periods of time.


Full article

Reciprocal gains of basic need satisfaction, intrinsic motivation and innovative work behaviour

basic needs Intrinsic motivation innovationKeep the fire burning: Reciprocal gains of basic need satisfaction, intrinsic motivation and innovative work behaviour

Devloo et al (2014).

Abstract: Drawing on insights from self-determination theory, we explored the dynamic relationship between intrinsic motivation and innovative work behaviour (IWB) over time. Specifically, we investigated how basic need satisfaction influences IWB through its effect on intrinsic motivation and how IWB in turn affects basic need satisfaction as measured the next day (i.e., a reciprocal relationship). The current study used a longitudinal design comprising a 6-day period and relied on multi-source data from 76 students in industrial product design and electronic engineering who participated in an innovation boot camp. In general, results provided support for the mediating role of intrinsic motivation in the relationship between basic need satisfaction and IWB, as well as the reciprocal relationship between basic need satisfaction and IWB.

Seeing willpower as an abundant resource (rather than a highly limited resource) works

willpower theoryImplicit Theories About Willpower Predict Self-Regulation and Grades in Everyday Life
Job, Walton, Bernecker, and Dweck (in press)

Abstract: Laboratory research shows that when people believe that willpower is an abundant (rather than highly limited) resource they exhibit better self-control after demanding tasks. However, some have questioned whether this “nonlimited” theory leads to squandering of resources and worse outcomes in everyday life when demands on self-regulation are high. To examine this, we conducted a longitudinal study, assessing students’ theories about willpower and tracking their self-regulation and their academic performance. As hypothesized, a “nonlimited” theory predicted better self-regulation (better time management and less procrastination, unhealthy eating, and impulsive spending) for students who faced high self-regulatory demands. Moreover, among students taking a heavy course load, those with a nonlimited theory earned higher grades, which was mediated by less procrastination. These findings contradict the idea that a limited theory helps people allocate their resources more effectively; instead, it is people with the nonlimited theory who self-regulate well in the face of high demands.

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