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Category Archive: research

P-Curve Analyses: Finding out which Social Priming Effects are Likely to be True

p-curveProfessors are Not Elderly: Evaluating the Evidential Value of Two Social Priming Effects Through P-Curve Analyses

By Daniel Lakens

Abstract: It is possible that the number of false positives in the literature is much greater than is desirable due to a combination of low statistical power, publication bias, and flexibility when analyzing data. Recently, some researchers have argued the replicability crisis social priming research is greatly exaggerated (Dijksterhuis, 2014; Stroebe & Strack, 2014). To quantify the extent to which researcher degrees of freedom are a real problem, I present two p-curve analyses that examine the evidential value of research lines on professor priming and elderly priming. The results indicate studies examining elderly priming are p-hacked, while studies examining professor priming contain evidential value. I believe a polarized discussion about whether social priming is true or not, whether direct replications or conceptual replications are preferable, or whether methodological rigor or theory development is needed is unlikely to lead to scientific progress. Instead, we have to meta-analytically evaluate individual effects based on their evidential value, and collaboratively examine what is likely to be true. Read full paper here.

Prosocial behaviors often follow patterns of intuitive psychological processes rather than control-oriented processes

donorIntuitive Prosociality
Jamil Zaki and Jason P. Mitchell

Abstract: Prosocial behavior is a central feature of human life and a major focus of research across the natural and social sciences. Most theoretical models of prosociality share a common assumption: Humans are instinctively selfish, and prosocial behavior requires exerting reflective control over these basic instincts. However, findings from several scientific disciplines have recently contradicted this view. Rather than requiring control over instinctive selfishness, prosocial behavior appears to stem from processes that are intuitive, reflexive, and even automatic. These observations suggest that our understanding of prosociality should be revised to include the possibility that, in many cases, prosocial behavior—instead of requiring active control over our impulses—represents an impulse of its own.

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In praise of high-level cognitive control when performing complex tasks

High level cognitive controlIn Going from Good to Great with Complex Tasks, Ozgun Atasoy explains that the belief that consciously thinking about what we are doing, when performing complex tasks, by definition harms our performance, is wrong. It is true that some type of conscious thinking can harm our functioning. For example, when we are typing on a keyboard, we run largely on auto-pilot. If we would try to consciously control the typing of each separate letter, this would slow us down a great deal and probably cause us to make many mistakes.

But, as Atasoy explains, when we are performing complex tasks, running on autopilot (performing it with little cognitive control/engagement) leads to sub-optimal performance in the sense that our performance becomes rigid. We lose the ability respond to unexpected events. Also, the task is likely to become boring, this way. Click here to read more »

The more you know about something, the more relevant deliberate practice becomes for further learning

Levels of knowledge and deliberate practice
Pachman, Mariya; Sweller, John; Kalyuga, Slava


Abstract: This study examined the influence of deliberate practice, defined as practice specifically aimed at learners’ weak areas and only their weak areas, on 8th graders performance in geometry. A control group had a choice over practice problems and their sequencing. Experiment 1 indicated a disordinal practice schedule by knowledge interaction. Simple effects tests indicated that the interaction was primarily caused by less knowledgeable learners benefiting more from a self-selected practice schedule than deliberate practice. Two subsequent experiments explored the cognitive mechanisms behind this effect by using learners with different levels of prior knowledge. Whereas the relatively more knowledgeable learners in Experiment 2 benefited by concentrating only on their weak areas during practice, the less knowledgeable learners in Experiment 3 improved their skills when they practiced on problem sets combining some of their weak and some of their strong areas or by concentrating on only a limited number of weak areas for a given problem area. These findings have important implications for the design of curriculum materials and implementation of deliberate practice techniques in secondary classrooms. Prior to attaining a sufficient level of familiarity with the subject matter, learners should be encouraged to continue practicing in areas in which they have some degree of competence. Only after competence is attained in several related areas should an exclusive emphasis be placed on practice in weak areas only.

The belief that you can change your emotions is good for you

Beliefs About Emotion: Links to Emotion Regulation, Well-Being, and Psychological Distress

Krista De Castella et al. (2013)


Abstract: People differ in their implicit beliefs about emotions. Some believe emotions are fixed (entity theorists), whereas others believe that everyone can learn to change their emotions (incremental theorists). We extend the prior literature by demonstrating (a) entity beliefs are associated with lower well-being and increased psychological distress, (b) people’s beliefs about their own emotions explain greater unique variance than their beliefs about emotions in general, and (3) implicit beliefs are linked with well-being/distress via cognitive reappraisal. These results suggest people’s implicit beliefs—particularly about their own emotions—may predispose them toward emotion regulation strategies that have important consequences for psychological health.


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Misconception 9: the theory of mindset is only useful for individuals

team-150x150It is clear that the theory of mindset is very useful for individuals, both for children and adults. Believing that your traits and capabilities can be developed has many advantages (see for example this interview). But it would be wrong to think that a growth mindset is only relevant for individual functioning. It is also relevant for families, teams, departments, organizations, and societies. I say this for two reasons.
The first reason the growth mindset is relevant for groups is because the development of a growth mindset depends to an important degree on how people in groups interact with each other. For example, the way people give feedback to each other influences mindsets. Giving trait praise (“You are very smart”) diminishes a growth mindset while giving effort compliments (“You have tried really hard”) enhances a growth mindset. There are other things which influences mindsets too, such as saying that it is normal to put in effort, that making mistakes is inevitable, and that persistence is important for achieving success. Click here to read more »

Effects of autonomy and control on progress and well-being

The why and how of goal pursuits: Effects of global autonomous motivation and perceived control on emotional well-being

By E. Gaëlle Hortop, Carsten Wrosch, Marylène Gagné

Abstract: This study examined the effects of global autonomous motivation and global perceived control on young adults’ adaptive goal striving and emotional well-being. We reasoned that autonomously motivated participants who also perceive high levels of control would make accelerated progress with the pursuit of their most important goal and experience associated increases in emotional well-being. By contrast, we predicted that these benefits of autonomous motivation would be reduced among participants who perceive low levels of control. A 6-month longitudinal study of 125 college students was conducted, and self-reported global autonomous motivation, global perceived control, progress towards the most important goal, and emotional well-being were assessed. Regression analyses showed that the combination of high baseline levels of global autonomous motivation and global perceived control was associated with accelerated goal progress after 6 months, which mediated 6-month increases in emotional well-being. These benefits were not apparent among autonomously motivated participants who perceived low levels of control. The study’s findings suggest that global autonomous motivation and perceived control may need to work together to foster adaptive goal striving and emotional well-being.

The Ostrich Problem

spc312071-fig-0001‘The Ostrich Problem’: Motivated Avoidance or Rejection of Information About Goal Progress


By Thomas L. Webb, Betty Chang, Yael Benn


Abstract: Monitoring one’s current standing with respect to goals can promote effective self-regulation. However, the present review suggests that there is an ostrich problem such that, in many instances, people have a tendency to “bury their head in the sand” and intentionally avoid or reject information that would help them to monitor their goal progress. For example, people with diabetes avoid monitoring their blood glucose, and few people monitor their household energy consumption, check their bank balances, keep track of what they are eating and so on. While situational constraints can explain some problems with progress monitoring, we use a self-motives framework to posit that the decision to avoid monitoring often represents the product of an interaction between different motives. For example, the desire to accurately assess progress may conflict with the desire to protect or enhance the self. The present review collates evidence pertaining to the ostrich problem, identifies different motives that underlie the decision to monitor versus not monitor goal progress, illustrates how the ostrich problem might be integrated into models of self-regulation, and provides suggestions for future research. In so doing, the review advances our understanding of the nature and determinants of intentionally deficient monitoring.


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A White Paper on The Importance of Academic Mindsets

With permission of David Scott Yeager I am posting here the executive summary of a white paper which was prepared for the White House meeting on Excellence in Education: The Importance of Academic Mindsets. Please note that part of the data on this latest research are still unpublished and should not be quoted or cited without permission.


How Can We Instill Productive Mindsets at Scale?

A Review of the Evidence and an Initial R&D Agenda


David S. Yeager, Dave Paunesku, Gregory M. Walton, & Carol S. Dweck


Executive Summary
Research has increasingly shown that there is more to student success than cognitive ability, curriculum and instruction. Students’ mindsets—their beliefs about themselves and the school setting—can powerfully affect whether students learn and grow in school. For example, when students have a fixed mindset, they believe that their intelligence is something that is finite and unchangeable. This makes them doubt their intelligence when they experience difficulty and it undermines resilience and learning. However, when students have more of a growth mindset, they believe that intelligence can be developed. In this mindset, students respond more resiliently to challenges and show greater learning and achievement in the face of difficulty. Randomized experimental studies find that even brief interventions that convey a growth mindset can have important, lasting effects on student learning and performance. For instance:  Click here to read more »

Extrinsic vs. intrinsic aspirations and job burnout

MH900423044Leaders life aspirations and job burnout: a self-determination theory approach
Maree Roche & Jarrod M. Haar


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the implications of leaders’ life goals on their work related wellbeing. Self-determination theory (SDT) asserts aspirations (life goals) pursued in terms of personal growth, health, affiliation and community support psychological wellbeing, while aspirations of wealth, image and fame thwart wellbeing. However, little is understood about the influence of life goals towards leaders’ wellbeing at work, specifically job burnout. Click here to read more »

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