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Mindfulness: protective factor in controlling work environments

Mindfulness, Work Climate, and Psychological Need Satisfaction in Employee Well-being

Schultz et al. (2014)

Abstract: The present study investigated how both mindfulness and managerial autonomy support affect work adjustment. Two hundred and fifty-nine working adults were recruited online, and they were assessed for individual differences in mindfulness and the autonomy-supportive versus controlling style of their management at work. Also assessed were indicators of work-related adjustment, namely, burnout, turnover intention, and absenteeism. Results showed that both autonomy support and mindfulness had direct relations with employee work well-being. Less autonomy-supportive work climates thwarted employee’s basic psychological needs at work, which partially explained the association of lower autonomy support at work and decreased work adjustment. These indirect effects were moderated by mindfulness. Specifically, people higher in mindfulness were less likely to feel need frustration, even in unsupportive managerial environments. Mindfulness thus appears to act as a protective factor in controlling work environments. These results not only highlight mindfulness as a potential pathway to wellness at the workplace, but also speak to the relevance of autonomy support in work environments in promoting employee work well-being.

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 »

Self-concordant goal selection

Becoming Oneself. The Central Role of Self-Concordant Goal Selection
Kennon M. Sheldon (2014)

Abstract: Pursuing personal goals is an important way that people organize their behavior and mature as individuals. However, because people are typically unaware of their own implicit motivations and potentials, they may pick goals that do not serve them well. This article suggests that “self-concordant” goal selection is a difficult self-perceptual skill, with important ramifications for thriving. Various means of conceptualizing and measuring goal self-concordance are considered. Then, relevant literature is reviewed to show that goal self-concordance, as assessed by a self-determination theory methodology, is predicted by goal/motive fit; that goal self-concordance in turn predicts more persistent goal effort and, thus, better goal attainment over time; and that self-concordant goal selection is enhanced by personality variables and interpersonal contexts that promote accurate self-insight and personal autonomy. Implications for the nature of the self, the causes of personality thriving and growth, and the free will question are considered.

Are both autonomy-support and structure really important for engagement and learning?

Abstract : According to the self-determination theory, autonomy-support and structure are two fostering-engagement and learning practices. However, few studies, mostly correlational, simultaneously tested the effects of both practices on engagement. Regarding learning, studies focused only on autonomy-support and produced inconsistent findings. Some authors found higher learning in autonomy-supportive contexts (Vansteenkiste et al., 2004) while others found higher learning in less autonomy supportive contexts (Furtak and Kunter, 2012). In some cases, the conditions may also have manipulated structure, which would explain contradictory findings. Clearly differentiate the effects of structure and autonomy-support is therefore needed. The current study aimed at testing the main effects and interaction of both dimensions on engagement and learning. Eighty-four students in psychology performed a learning task on computer. They were randomly assigned to one of the four conditions determined by the manipulation of autonomy-support (low vs. high) and structure (moderated vs. high). After the task, participants filled in questionnaires about their engagement and learning. The results showed that they were significantly more engaged and learned more in highly structured conditions. No effects of autonomy-support were found. These results stress the importance of structure for engagement and learning. Contradictory to previous findings, no effects of autonomy-support were found. Given the study design, these results cannot be generalized to all situations. In classroom settings, other variables as teacher support could also be influential for students’ outcomes (Furrer & Skinner, 2003). However, this study is a step forward in the understanding of respective effects of autonomy-support and structure.


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3 Components of saying no effectively

neeIn order to function well it is important to be able to say no effectively. Each day we are confronted with countless requests. Examples of such requests may be “Could you do this for me?”,  or “Is it okay if I… ?” Some request are a bit more subtle and implicit such as the expectation to respond to phone calls, e-mails, tweets, Facebook posts, etcetera. If we would respond to all these requests it would be impossible for us to get anything done which requires some concentrated effort. Only if we are able, to some extent, to say no to such requests and appeals we can protect and take care of what is important to us. We can protect ourselves against the constant flow of digital ‘requests’ by temporarily turning off our phones and computers.  Click here to read more »

Are progress-focused skills just conversational tricks?

magicIn a recent training group I had been teaching participants about several progress-focused techniques such as the NOAM 7 steps approach, the progress-focused circle technique, the positive no technique, and progress-focused directing (which is a way of making your expectations clear in a motivated and constructive manner).

On the second day of the training, one of the participants made a remark which was something like this: “First of all, I really find all of this interesting and useful but I am wondering about something. If both we employees and managers learn progress-focused skills aren’t both parties just becoming better at conversational trickery? First my manager will try to make a clever formulation to try to get me to do something and then I will counter that will some clever formulation of the positive no technique. It feels just like we are just applying tricks? I just don’t think we will still be able to be honest and spontaneous!” Click here to read more »

Top 25 of 2013

The year 2013 reaches its end so it’s time for me to look back on what I’ve written this year and to make a list of what I think were the most interesting articles. Here goes:

  1. On the importance of evaluating truth claims
  2. Dogmatism in positive psychology and in the solution-focused approach?
  3. Beliefs are tied to actions and their consequences
  4. What work engagement is
  5. Utilizing the principle of reciprocity seeking in progress-focused coaching and mediation
  6. Should teachers focus on performance differences between students or within students?
  7. When children have low self esteem should you then give them person praise?
  8. We can never know what someone’s potential is
  9. The NOAM 7 steps approach of progress focused work
  10. Balancing a progress-focus and a commitment-focus Click here to read more »

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 »

On the importance of evaluating truth claims


Cognitive scientists, such as Keith Stanovich, distinguish two basic forms of rationality: 1) epistemic rationality, making our beliefs correspond with the actual structure of the world, and 2) instrumental rationality, behaving in such a way that you achieve what you want. Instrumental rationality is about doing what works and epistemic rationality is about finding truth. My view is that it is dangerous to overlook any of these two types of rationality. Only focusing on what is true but forgetting to do what works may lead to neglecting to do things that help you to survive and remain connected to other people. In extreme cases this may lead to a situation in which your questioning dominant false beliefs may threaten governing institutions so much that they may want to isolate you or worse (for example Copernicus and Socrates). Only focusing on doing what works but neglecting the ‘what is true’ question may lead to you moving efficiently through a web of falsity distancing you more and more from reality. In extreme cases it may lead to such pragmatism that individuals may gradually go along with and adapt to situations which systematically undermine human thriving of themselves or others.

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People view cooperation as an end in itself

Economic theory and practice has long been dominated by the view that people are driven by self-interest. Research in psychology and in the emerging field of behavioral economics has shown that this model of human motivation is wrong. This research showed that people are not only driven by self-interest. They also have strong tendencies to cooperate. It seems we view others’ interests as an end in itself, too. This not only applies to relatives and friends but also to strangers. However, what we are taught about human nature affects what we belief and how we behave. For example, research by Robert H. Frank and his colleagues (1993) has shown that students of economics, as they were more and more exposed to this axiom of self-interest which formed the basis of dominant theories of economics, they became less and less social and cooperative. Click here to read more »

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