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Category Archive: research

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

Interest drives performance

Interest drives performanceHere is a new article which supports what I said in this article, namely that interest drives performance:


The role of interest in optimizing performance and self-regulation

Paul A. O’Keefe & Lisa Linnenbrink-Garcia



  • Task performance was optimized when affect- and value-related interest were high.
  • Depletion was also minimized when affect- and value-related interest were high.
  • Interest supports effective and efficient engagement without depleting resources.
  • Results underscore the importance of interest as a motivational variable.

Click here to read more »

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.

Study: Merit pay and bonuses related to autonomous motivation

Merit pay bonuses autonomous motivationExamining the relationship between workplace rewards and the quality of motivational experience; a Self-Determination Theory perspective

Rebecca Hewett (2014)

Abstract: The relationship between reward and motivation is one of the most fundamental questions in organisational research. Self-determination theory (SDT) acknowledges that performance-contingent rewards are motivational but suggests that these highly contingent rewards undermine better quality (autonomous) motivation because they thwart the satisfaction of individuals’ basic psychological needs. Through three field- based empirical studies, these theoretical assumptions were tested. The first, a qualitative interview study, supported the distinction between different motivation types and found that more autonomous motivation related to a more positive emotional experience. The second and third studies addressed the primary aim of the thesis; to test SDT’s theory about the reward–motivation relationship. Click here to read more »

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 »

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.

Using social network incentives to stimulate engagement, trust and results

IMG_6116In this article I mentioned Alex Pentland’s book Social Physics. One of the points frequently made in the book is that engagement, direct strong, positive interactions between people, within work groups is very important. By repeatedly interacting in cooperative manners, trust grows between team members and common beliefs, habits and norms emerge.

The question is, how can you create an environment in which these kinds of social connections are stimulated? Conventional management approaches such as working with individual performance targets and incentives will backfire. What is needed, says Pentland, is to provide incentives which are aimed at people’s social networks which create a social pressure to interact around specific, targeted ideas. Click here to read more »

How intelligent groups discover and learn from new ideas

socialphysicslogo2In his new book Social Physics, MIT data scientist Alex Pentland introduces the discipline of social physics, a big data approach to social science. The discipline focuses mainly on how ideas flow through groups and communities and how social learning takes place to enable productivity and creativity. The book describes much large scale research and many core concepts of social physics and it introduces ideas on how groups, organizations, cities, and societies can be made more effective.

One of the studies described in the book is by Wooley et al (2010). This study has demonstrated the existence of a collective intelligence which is different from the individual intelligence of each group member. This collective intelligence turns out to depend mainly on two factors: 1) the equality of conversational turn taking: the less conversations were dominated by a few people only, the more intelligent the group was, and 2) social intelligence: the ability to read each other’s social signals. Click here to read more »

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