A review of the causes and consequences of optimism (summary)

Seeing the glass half full: A review of the causes and consequences of optimism

Forgeard, M., & Seligman, M. (2012). Seeing the glass half full: A review of the causes and consequences of optimism. Pratiques Psychologiques, 18(2), 107-120.

The psychological trait of optimism influences how individuals perceive themselves and their environment, how they process incoming information, as well as how they decide to act based on this information. Pessimists often behave in ways that are geared towards worst-case scenarios, while optimists tend to trust that the future will be favourable. According to past research, optimism and pessimism appear to have a particularly important effect on how individuals deal with challenging and stressful events. Even so, many people dismiss the effect of optimism, calling optimists naïve or in denial. This is because pessimism and its realistic view of the world seem appealing and rational when contrasted with the popular notion that optimism equates with foolishness, naiveté or denial; however, research shows that the way in which psychologists think of optimism does not involve forced enthusiasm or denial of the truth

What is Optimism?

Anthropologist Lionel Tiger defines optimism as “a mood or attitude associated with an expectation about the social or material future – one which the evaluator regards as socially desirable, to his [or her] advantage, or for his [or her] pleasure”. This means that optimism is a cognitive, affective and motivational construct - optimists both think and feel positively about the future.

The two ways in which researchers have operationalized optimism are the optimistic explanatory style approach, and the dispositional optimism approach

Optimistic Explanatory Style

This approach, developed by Seligman et al., is inspired by the observation that most (but not all) animals and humans give up when exposed to uncontrollable stressors and remain helpless when the situation becomes controllable. This behaviour is otherwise known as "learned helplessness." Helpless is associated with a pessimistic explanatory style; pessimists believe that negatives events are always present ("things will never change in the future"), have a global effect ("this negative event has ruined my entire life"), and is the fault of their own. Pessimists also often do not take credit for good events, attributing their occurrence to luck. Additionally, they perceive positive events as short-lived (“I just performed well today but who knows what will happen tomorrow”), and only affect one aspect of their lives (“I may be good at this but I’m otherwise pretty stupid”).

The optimistic explanatory style is therefore the opposite. Optimists do acknowledge negative events, but see them as specific (“other things are still going well”) and unstable (“things will get better soon”). They think negative events in a constructive, non-fatalistic manner and trust in their ability to deal with stressful problems.

The main instruments used to assess optimistic explanatory style are the Attributional Style Questionnaire (ASQ) and Content Analysis of Verbatim Explanations (CAVE), which ask people (through open-ended questions that are eventually coded) how events are caused. In both methods, the extent to which people think that bad events are caused by temporary and local causes determines how optimistic they are (and vice versa for good events).

Dispositional Optimism

This perspective is based on an expectancy-value model of goal pursuit, which proposes that individuals pursue goals that are most important to them (value), as well as goals they feel confident in attaining (expectancy). According to Carver et al, optimism and pessimism are “broad, generalized versions of confidence and doubt […] pertaining to life, rather than to just a specific context”. Contrary to the "optimistic explanatory style" approach, researchers ask participants directly, whether they expect events in the future to be favourable or unfavourable.

Dispositional optimism is usually assessed using self-reports, such as the Revised Life Orientation Test (LOT-R), which asks participants to respond to statements such as “I hardly ever expect things to go my way” on a 5-point scale from "strongly agree," to "strongly disagree," or the Optimism & Pessimism Scale, which computes two separate scores (optimism and pessimism) for an individual. Results of the development and validation of this scale suggested that optimism and pessimism do not constitute the two ends of the same bipolar spectrum, but are rather two independent constructs that are moderately to strongly correlated. Therefore, while both scales measure optimism and pessimism, they do so by completely different methods and are not interchangeable.

Benefits of Optimism

Optimism and Subjective Well-Being

Studies in college students has found that optimism is linked to fewer symptoms of depression, higher levels of well-being, lower attrition rates, and larger perceptions of social support. Additionally, optimism in adolescence was found to be the best predictor of life satisfaction in middle age (compared to teacher ratings, parental education, household income, or intelligence). Furthermore, some studies have shown that people who score high on the optimism scale also tend to handle stressful situations, such as childbirth, cancer treatment, and unsuccessful in vitro fertilization, better than those who scored lower in optimism. This can be explained by the tendency of optimists to cope by dealing with problems directly, actively trying to solve them instead of denying them. Pessimists, on the other hand, tend to use avoidance coping strategies.

Optimism and Health

Many studies have shown that optimism is associated with a slower progression of disease. For example, optimists show a slower rate of development of atherosclerosis and AIDS. Additionally, Optimism is associated with better cardiovascular functioning and reduced cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, optimism predicts a faster recovery from coronary bypass surgery, and a reduced likelihood of needing another hospitalization later on. One study even found that the most optimistic participants were almost half as likely to die of all causes during the study than the least optimistic participants (controlling for other major risk factors such as age, blood pressure, weight, or smoking), particularly when it pertains cardiovascular mortality.

While many studies show a correlation between optimism and positive health outcomes, controversies remain as some studies have found optimism to either have no effect or negative effects. Optimism may have its most beneficial effects during the developing stages of a disease, but have less of an impact in advanced stages – reflecting the idea that “if a crane falls on you, optimism is not of much use” (Seligman, 2011).

These mixed study results can be explained by a lack of distinction between realistic and unrealistic optimism. Depending on the circumstances, one can have an optimistic and realistic view of the future (if there are good reasons to think that the future will bode well). Alternatively, one can have an optimistic but unrealistic view of the future, if one believes that things will go well even when there are no reasons to believe this. Smokers, for example, tend to hold the unrealistic belief that they are at a lower risk of developing lung cancer than other smokers, which may demotivate them from trying to quit. Thus, The distinction between realistic and unrealistic optimism therefore appears to be a crucial one in order to understand the health-promoting or health-endangering properties of optimism.

Optimism and Success

Research has also found that optimists may also be more successful than average, especially in jobs where one frequently encounters failure. Results of one study conducted in an insurance company revealed that more optimistic salesmen sold more life insurance than less optimistic ones, and were half as likely to quit). Similar results were found in new students at West Point, the famous American army training school; those who persevered in spite of the grueling training and discipline of West Point tended to be the more optimistic students, whereas those who quit tended to be more pessimistic. However, one study emphasised the importance of distinguishing between realistic and unrealistic optimism, as unrealistic optimism may be detrimental to success: for example, unmitigated and unwarranted optimism may lead business executives and entrepreneurs to make bad decisions.

Having said that, one study found that unrealistic optimism may also sometimes serve a strategic purpose, as individuals purposely tend to make unrealistically optimistic predictions when foreseeing obstacles in goal pursuit ('counteractive optimism'), which helps them maintain adequate levels of motivation and self-efficacy and eventually leads to better performance by leading people to strive for higher standards and by increasing task persistence.

One of the most fascinating effects of optimism is that other people may like optimists better than pessimists, which is particularly applicable in politics. In fact, one study found that between 1900 and 1984, the more optimistic candidate (as determined by coding speeches) has won the American presidential elections 18 out of 22 times. However, this may have more to do with preferring people who are more similar to yourself; in particular, one study found that optimistic men are more likely to associate with other men sharing their optimistic disposition.

Determinants of Optimism

Optimism can be influenced by:

  1. Genetics – shown by twin studies, but might also be indirect because genetics influence other characteristics, such as intelligence, which may also influence optimism.

  2. Environmental influences - parents, teacher and media.

  3. Socioeconomic status - may be explained by tendency for individuals born into certain families to be exposed to more stress and experience negative emotional states at a young age.

Although optimism and pessimism are relatively stable personality traits, cognitive therapy can be a good tool to transform pessimists to optimists. This is done through helping individuals adopt more accurate and constructive explanations for good and bad events, as individuals suffering from depression and pessimism often display highly distorted and inaccurate interpretations of the situations they find themselves in.

Another method, developed by Seligman and colleagues, is a 12-session curriculum to help adolescents become more optimistic (the “Penn Resiliency Program”). Using cartoons and role-plays, adolescents learn to recognize the link between thoughts and feelings, and to adopt more constructive beliefs when they are faced with difficult situations. The program also introduces social problem-solving skills: how to be more confident, relaxed, and organized, and how to make better decisions. At each lesson, students learn concepts and skills relevant to resilience, and practice them with hypothetical examples.

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Psychology: History and Application

Darwin's "Natural Science of Babies" (summary)

Darwin's "Natural Science of Babies" (summary)

Darwin's "Natural Science of Babies"

Lorch, M., & Hellal, P. (2010). Darwin’s “Natural Science of Babies.” Journal of the History of the Neurosciences, 19(2), 140–157

Darwin's "Natural Science of Babies" is believed to be one of the first empirical studies of child development, written by an English author, and was probably prompted by Hippolyte Taine's diary account on early childhood language acquisition. Taine's account of his daughter's language acquisition was originally published in French, but was later translated into English and published in Mind, a newly founded British journal of psychology and philosophy. In his article, Taine recorded his daughter's progression in language acquisition, but used very vague notations on timing. Seeing this article in Mind prompted Dawrin to look into his own diary of his own children's development.

In 1838, Darwin began recording his notes on the possible role of habit, will, memory, and learning on childhood development, and included questions and reflections on children, language, and the development of behaviour. This included observations of behaviours such as winking, nodding, and frowning, both of his own 10 children, and also those of friends and family. His observations continued over the years and began to include more complex ideas, such as social interactions, reflex actions, and emotions. His notebooks end at the death of his last child, Charles Waring, in 1856.

It wasn't until more than a decade later, that Darwin's observations on child development were published in print. This was because Darwin was feared bad public reception of his work. Darwin's "Biological Sketch of an Infant," which studies the development of William Erasmus, one of Darwin's sons, had a lasting influence in the field of child development. It was published in journals of the London intellectual community and also in major National newspapers.

Darwin's "Biological Sketch of an Infant" was brought up during a scandal in Britain in 1877, about abortion and child poverty. The scandal was mainly about access to birth control and limiting population growth through those means. Darwin's theories were used on both sides of the argument regarding "baby farming," or killing of unwanted children after birth. Thus, Darwin's scientific publication coincided with a great debate about the value of children in British society.

The article was edited to include only information about Darwin's first child, William. It is a combination of ideas and a direct response to Taine's earlier article. His observations of his son's behaviour were comparable to those of animals, and his records were kept systematically and with great quantitative detail, contrary to those of Taine. Darwin's hope that other would follow his lead in studying child development, and soon after, various other articles on the subject were published in Mind. Later on, articles on child development began to appear in magazines intended for the general public.

In response to Emily Talbot's report on "Infant Education," Darwin wrote a letter, expressing his interest in her work. In these letters, he included pragmatic proposals for the future of research in child development, including whether parents'

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A Biological Sketch of an Infant (summary)

A Biological Sketch of an Infant (summary)

A Biological Sketch of an Infant

Darwin, C. (1877). A Biographical Sketch of an Infant. Mind, 2(7), 285–294

After reading a publication in MIND, where Taine described his child's journey through language acquisition, Charles Darwin began keeping a record of empirical observations of his son, William Erasmus's, development. He described the age at which emotions, such as anger, fear, and affection occurred, as well as association of ideas, moral sense, pleasurable sensations, unconsciousness, shyness, and means of communication. Judging from his own experience, Darwin noted that the period of development of different faculties would differ considerably between different infants

Touch - During the first seven days, Darwin noticed various reflex actions such as sneezing, hiccupping, yawning, stretching, and of course sucking and screaming. When Darwin touched the naked sole of his son’s foot with a bit of paper, when he was 7 days old, he jerked it away, curling his toes at the same time, like a much older child would when tickled. This showed Darwin that such involuntary reflexes are more influenced by will than by muscle tone or coordination centres. The infant also showed a desire to suck the finger of the warm hand if it was applied close to his head, which, Darwin reasoned, must be considered as a reflex or an instinctive action.

Hearing - During the first two weeks of his life, William was often shocked by any loud noise, blinking his eyes in reflex, just as other infants Darwin had previously observed. When he was 66 days old, Darwin sneezed, causing his son to cry - and even few hours later, his son remained in a nervous state. This was the same reaction as he had had to seeing a new object; however Darwin observed that this reaction was much more common with sound than with sight. It was concluded, therefore, that winking, a movement that protect the eyes, was not a movement learned through experience, but by nature. Even though sensitive to sound in a general way, he was not able to easily recognize where the sound was coming from, even at 124 days old.

Vision - Darwin noticed that the infant’s eyes were fixed on a candle when he was only 9 days old, and up to the 45th day, nothing else seemed to catch their attention; but on the 49th day, his attention was attracted by a bright-colored tassel. Darwin noticed that it took quite some time for his son to be able to follow a moving object, as he could not even do this well at seven and a half months old. When the baby was 32 days old, he perceived his mother's breast when three or four inches from it, as was shown by the protrusion of his lips and his eyes becoming fixed, but Darwin remained unsure of whether this was due to vision, or whether the infant had simply felt the warmth and smell of his mother's body. At 77 days old, he was able to

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Eugenics: Its Definition, Scope, and Aims (summary)

Eugenics: Its Definition, Scope, and Aims (summary)

Eugenics: Its Definition, Scope, and Aims

Galton, F. (1904). Eugenics: Its Definition, Scope, and Aims. American Journal of Sociology, 10(1), 1–6.

Eugenics was defined as the science that deals with all the influences that improve the inborn qualities of a race. In this paper, Galton discusses producing a “highly gifted race of man” by the process of selective breeding, which is referred as positive eugenics. Negative eugenics is discouraging the reproduction of “undesirables”. The meaning of the word eugenics would literally translated be “well-born,” as denoted by the prefix eu.  Galton argues that character depends largely on the proportion between qualities, whose balance may be much influenced by education; thus, in his argument, it is essential to leave moral reasoning out of the discussion. Additionally, Galton argued that the goodness of a character is relative to the current state of civilisation. Say, for example, that all of the animals in a zoo were polled about their thoughts on morality. It would be pointless to debate the contradictions brought up by those who prey and those who are prey. Though an agreement on the finer details of absolute morality cannot be reached, the essentials of eugenics can still be easily defined in this scenario: All creatures would agree that it would be better to be healthy than sick, vigorous than weak, or well-fitted than ill-fitted for the role they play on the planet. The same can be said about men; thus, the aim of eugenics is to represent each class or sect by its best specimens; that done, to leave them to work out their common civilization in their own way.

Galton argued that a list of universally desirable qualities, such as health, energy, ability, manliness, and courteous disposition, could be compiled. Special abilities would be assessed highly by the group or community that possessed them; creativity by artists, fearlessness and sense of inquiry by scientists, etc. The idea being that the representatives of these qualities would be better than those who elected them. Thus, the more of these qualities the get passed on, the better society, the nation, and the human race become.

The aim of eugenics is to bring as many influences as can be reasonably employed, so the useful classes in the community can contribute more then their proportion to the next generation. The procedure would be as follows:

  1. Dissemination of a knowledge of the laws of heredity, and promotion of their future study.

  2. Historical inquiry into the rates with which the various classes of society (classified according to civic usefulness.) have contributed to the population at various times, in ancient and modern nations. There is strong reason for believing that national rise and decline is closely connected with this influence.

  3. Systematic collection of facts showing the circumstances under which large and thriving families have most frequently originated, in other words, the conditions of eugenics. Galton described a "thriving family" as a family where the children have gained distinctly superior positions to those

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Biographical Origins of Francis Galton's Psychology (summary)

Biographical Origins of Francis Galton's Psychology (summary)

Biographical Origins of Francis Galton's Psychology

Fancher, R. E. (1983). Biographical Origins of Francis Galton’s Psychology. Isis, 74(2), 227–233.

Francis Galton believed in a positive relationship between intelligence and head size. Many claim that this belief came out of vanity; however, Galton's head was actually quite small. In terms of his intelligence, Galton is believed to have had a childhood IQ of over 200. But where did Galton come from, and what was his childhood like?

One of Galton's first teachers was his invalid older sister, Adele, who was 12 years older than Galton. She moved his cradle into her room and began teaching him French, German, Latin, and Greek. At two and a half years of age, it is documented that Galton was able to read the children's book, Cobwebs to Catch. He learned quickly, being able to print his name shortly before turning three, and by the time he was four, he was able to read any book in English, had a vast knowledge of the Latin language, and could compute mathematical problems well beyond what the average four-year-old could.

Galton's family kept an extensive record of Galton's childhood letters, to the extent that each of them were kept, "witnessed," and annotated. He rarely appears in any of his family's social events, unless they were related to his education. Despite Galton's family's respect for education, their Quaker religion prevented them from registering at any British university, however at the age of four years old, Galton began saving for his future university education. Pushed by his family, Galton excelled academically, however he was not necessarily suited for the British educational system, as British universities emphasised "discipline" in thinking, which was achieved through studying the Classics." Students were publicly ranked based on exam results, a system for which Galton's childhood education did not prepare him. His learning style was less disciplined, fueled by his natural curiosity.

Because of the structure of the British education system, Galton was up for a rude awakening. He was not used to the discipline required for success at a British university, and slowly got further behind in his studies in Classics. He later took his first medical examinations in 1840 and succeeded in his medical studies. He interrupted his medical studies to study mathematics and won several prizes, but ultimately achieved a second class ranking in a "Little go" exam. This was not acceptable to him, and he soon began having fainting fits every time he studied mathematics. Later, he dropped out of the honours degree program and settled for an ordinary degree.

At his father's encouragement, Galton returned to his medical studies , but after his father's death in 1844, which left Galton with a large inheritance, Galton quit his medical studies before getting his license to practice medicine. With his newly inherited money, Galton went travelling to Egypt and the Middle East. He participated in many activities, such as hunting and ballooning, but ultimately felt dissatisfied with his purposeless life and began

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Behavioral Activation Treatment for Depression: Returning to Contextual Roots (summary)

Behavioral Activation Treatment for Depression: Returning to Contextual Roots (summary)

Behavioral Activation Treatment for Depression: Returning to Contextual Roots

Jacobson, N., Martell, C., & Dimidjian, S. (2001). Behavioral Activation Treatment for Depression: Returning to Contextual Roots.Clinical Psychology: Science And Practice8(3), 255-270.

In 1990, an experiment by Jackson et al. was done to determine the extent to which the behavioural activation (BA) component of cognitive therapy (CT) could account for the benefits of CT in depressed patients. The results were consistent with activation theory, and long-term follow-up results suggested that BA was as effective at preventing relapse as CT. This article provides an overview of the current BA model and its underlying principles.

A Brief History of Behavioural Activation

Study results indicated that the BA component of Ct was just as effective as the entire CT process, which led researchers to investigate the topic further. The previously accepted cognitive theory of depression required clients to confront and modify negative core schemas in order to effect change in depression was under question, as it appeared that BA was not only necessary, but may also be sufficient.

This led scientists to go back and study the literature on depression. Based on the principles of Skinner, Ferster proposed a completely behavioural model of depression, placing an emphasis on a functional analysis of behaviour in the understanding of depression. Additionally, he highlighted the importance of increased avoidance and escape behaviours and decreased positively reinforced behaviours in depressed people. Lewinsohn, on the other hand, proposed a behavioural model in which depression comes form an increase in aversive events or a decrease in pleasurable events. In this model, depression was assumed to be causally related to an increase in punishment or a decrease in reward.

These models did not lead to purely behavioural treatments. Over time, cognitive aspects were added into the treatment regime, including cognitive resrtucturing interventions in combination with relaxation therapy. Behavioural treatments were viewed as components of cognitive treatments, with the aim of modifying cognitive structures, and behavioural therapy had strayed from it's original intended roots.

While CT had been shown to be effective in the treatment of depression in laboratory studies, many researchers in the field were still skeptical and wanted to look at the therapy in more detail. This led to the development of BA as a treatment in its own right.

Behavioural Activation and the Demedicalisation of Depression

The BA model for the treatment of depression is unlike other conventional models, as it places a significant importance on context and individual, internal dysfunction. These individual defect models are representations of the science of our times, and include biological, genetic, and cognitive defects. Individual illness models focus on pathology within the organism, whereas a functional models look outside of the organism to establish relations between behavior and environment. However, it is important to note that functional models do not exclude genetic or biological components of depression. While many studies have investigated the relationship between neurotransmitter imbalance and depression, studies remain inconclusive about the specific biological dysfunction that may account for the

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Science, serotonin, and sadness: the biology of antidepressants (summary)

Science, serotonin, and sadness: the biology of antidepressants (summary)

Science, serotonin, and sadness: the biology of antidepressants: A series for the public

Wrobel, S. (2007). Science, serotonin, and sadness: the biology of antidepressants: A series for the public. The FASEB Journal21(13), 3404-3417.

Fluoxetine was trademarked as Prozac in 1988, arriving in the U.S.A. This new drug was critically acclaimed at the time and is still used by millions of people across nations. In the past, depression was viewed as a disease of the mind, soul and the heart and individuals who suffered it felt stereotyped and ashamed. Prozac changed that, by acting on the biochemical mechanism in the brain.

Prozac and other drugs that affect the reuptake process of serotonin (SSRI) weren't the first drugs that treated depression, but were the first to be designed specifically after the realization of how the brain and neurotransmitters work.

People with depression have reduced levels of serotonin in their brains. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor drugs correct this imbalance by not allowing the neurons to retake the serotonin, and thus leaving more of this neurotransmitter (NT) available for the brain to use. This created a new term, which the public knows, as "chemical imbalance" and changed the way it perceived depression.

Building on past clinical research, SSRI drugs raised more questions and opportunities for the future.

What is depression?

Often regarded as the common cold of psychotherapy, depression affects 5%-8% of the world population and prevents people from enjoying their lives, sometimes leading to suicidal thoughts and acts. Depression, in addition to the emotional and physical pain it causes, has a cost of 70 billion dollars per year for the economy.

Thankfully though, 80-90% of severely depressed patients can be treated with a combination of drugs and therapy. We owe the existence of these pharmacological interventions to the physicians and scientists who fought through years of research and did not give up at the first sign of unexpected results.

Depression: the real thing

Depression is endogenous, meaning that it has no clear precipitating event. Without treatment, symptoms of depression can persist for weeks, months, or years; however with adequate treatment those who suffer from depression often find relief. Anyone, at any age, can suffer from depression - worldwide, 5-8% of the population suffers from major depression, while 20% of the population has been affected by milder forms. Women are twice as likely as men to develop depression, probably due to hormones, and are particularly at risk after childbirth. However, men have been found to be four times as likely to commit suicide than women. The accepted explanation for depression is an imbalance in neurotransmitters, particularly serotonin. There is also a genetic component, as depression has been shown to run in families.

There are several forms of depression:

Major depressive disorder is severe enough to interfere with the ability to function in daily life, such as in sleep, work, and eating. Symptoms include feeling sad or fatigued for a long period of time, loss of interest in hobbies, feelings of guilt and hopelessness, and

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Feeling connected again (summary)

Feeling connected again (summary)

Feeling connected again

Interventions that increase social identification reduce depression symptoms in community and clinical settings

Cruwys, T., Alexander Haslam, S., Dingle, G., Jetten, J., Hornsey, M., Desdemona Chong, E., & Oei, T. (2014). Feeling connected again: Interventions that increase social identification reduce depression symptoms in community and clinical settings. Journal of Affective DIsorders, 159, 139 - 146.

Introduction

Depression is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. Despite pharmacological and therapeutic treatments, 80% of depressed patients can be expected to relapse. Currently, treatment involves long term use of antidepressants and "booster' sessions of psychotherapy following a relapse.

Basic research has shown that social isolation both percipitates and maintains depression. Additionally, a common trigger for a depressive episode is the loss of an important social tie. Several studies suggest that facilitating social interaction, such as by introducing social skills training, participating in support groups, or joining social clubs, may help alleviate depression.

While these results are promising, other studies have also shown mixed results. One-on-one interactions and interactions involving the formation of new friendships were not found to have an effect in reducing depression. The present study posits that social interactions only have benefits for depression if the person identifies with the group.

Study 1

Vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals were facilitated to join recreational social groups. Symptoms of depression were measured at the first group meeting and three months after. The authors hypothesised that social identification with the community group would decrease depression symptoms. This hypothesis was confirmed, after controlling for initial severity of depression, frequency of attendance, and group-type. Participants who reported a high level of social identification with the group they joined showed a marked decrease in depressive symptoms, often moving them from a status of clinically depressed to normal.

Study 2

Outpatients undergoing group cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy were examined to see whether social identification might be a "non-specific factor" that can account for the efficacy of group-based psychological treatments. The same method as Study 1 was used, except replacing recreational groups with group therapy. It was found that group therapy was effective overall, unspecific to group type, in decreasing symptoms of depression.

Thus, social identification is an important factor in the efficacy of social interactions in the treatment of depression. These implications are applicable on the clinical level and should be researched further.

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Cognitive-behavioral treatment of depression (summary)

Cognitive-behavioral treatment of depression (summary)

Cognitive-behavioral treatment of depression

A three-stage model to guide treatment planning

Overholser, J. (2003). Cognitive-behavioral treatment of depression: A three-stage model to guide treatment planning. Cognitive And Behavioral Practice10(3), 231-239.

Depression is a complex disorder involving many different factors. Therapy may aid greatly if it is suited to the client's specific needs. Cognitive-Behavioral therapy is a three-stage model that integrates therapeutic treatments with a flexible structure that provides each patient with proper treatment to depression.

Stage one:

The core elements needed at the start of the therapy include establishing a therapeutic alliance, conducting a thorough assessment, and using differential diagnosis to guide the preliminary treatment plan.

The therapeutic relationship is largely established by events that occur during the first therapy session. It is essential for the therapist to provide a safe and supportive atmosphere that is based on trust and acceptance. The therapist can educate the client about depression in terms of its symptomatology, course and treatment.

Assessment serves a variety of functions, including: documenting the client's diagnosis, evaluating the severity of depression, developing ideas for a preliminary treatment plan, monitoring the client's progress over time, evaluating the effectiveness of treatment, and readjusting the treatment plan as needed.

Self-monitoring allows the clients to notice patterns in their mood states and reduce generalizing their days into one mood state. Clients use scales to record their mood changes throughout the week while identifying their mood type and it's intensity.

The therapist needs to establish a diagnosis of major depression according to the current diagnostic criteria. A central part of the initial assessment involves the differential diagnosis of depressive symptoms and syndromes. Differential diagnosis can help to guide the development of the preliminary treatment plan. This can help assess the need for medication.

As part of the initial evaluation, the therapist should develop a preliminary treatment plan. Therapist and client can identify several goals for treatment, emphasizing the value of building competence in areas that can help reduce depressive tendencies. Changing cognitions can promote changes in emotions and behaviors. Thus, a cognitive conceptualization can provide a framework to guide the ongoing processes of understanding the client's problems and planning the best treatment. Depressed clients are more likely to benefit from cognitive therapy when therapist and client agree on the treatment goals and therapy tasks.

Stage two:

During the second stage of treatment, different components are used for different clients. The therapist can select the modules most directly related to the client's symptoms.

For reduced activity – Behavioral activation strategies include guiding clients to monitor their daily activities, evaluating different activities for the degree of mastery and pleasure they produce, and assigning a variety of simple activities to be completed between sessions. The goal is to increase the frequency of pleasant and reinforcing activities in the client's typical day. Activities completed between sessions can provide opportunities for clients to notice the cognitions related to their negative moods.

For impaired social functioning – Therapy can help to increase the frequency of pleasant social activities in

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Motivational Interviewing and Self-Determination Theory (summary)

Motivational Interviewing and Self-Determination Theory (summary)

Motivational Interviewing and Self–Determination Theory

Markland, D., Ryan, R., Tobin, V., & Rollnick, S. (2005). Motivational Interviewing and Self–Determination Theory. Journal Of Social And Clinical Psychology24(6), 811-831.

Motivational Interviewing and adaptations of motivational interviewing (AMIs) have become extensively accepted as a counseling style changing maladaptive behaviours such as problems with alcohol and drugs, smoking cessation, HIV prevention among drug users, and other behaviours, mostly in a clinical setting. Motivational Interviewing has evolved from clinical experience in the treatment of alcohol abuse and was first described by Miller (1983). The problem with Motivational Interviewing is that it lacks theoretical underpinnings. This article proposes that Self Determination Theory offers theoretical framework for a better understanding of its processes and effectiveness.

The principles of motivational Interviewing

According to Miller and Rollnick (2002) Motivational Interviewing is a client-centered method for enhancing intrinsic motivation by recognizing and resolving ambivalence. Clients often begin therapy with conflicting motivations. They often want to change, but also see the benefits and disadvantages associated with changing or staying the same. The counselor’s role in this process is to help the client locate and define the ambivalence, provide support, offer some alternatives, and motivate the client to change. Counselors should not try to directly persuade the client to change because doing so would be taking one side of the client's own internal decisional conflict, which may cause the client to rebel and argue against change. There are four general principles of motivational interviewing described by Miller and Rollnick (2002):

1.The expression of empathy

Expression of the empathy by the counselor is the most important feature of the method and predictor of the treatment success. Motivational interviewing draws on the ideas of Rogers, that in order to change, the client must feel personally accepted and valued, a sense that is fostered by a counselor's expression of empathy.

2. The development of discrepancy

Development of discrepancy involves discussing positive and negative sides of client’s current behavior and of changes to current behavior in order to make the gap between the client’s current behavior and his wider goals and values more obvious to him.

3. Rolling with resistance

Rolling with resistance is the process of not engaging in conflict because often times, pushing the client to make a change will make him exhibit even greater resistance. Counselors are trained to accept ambivalence and resistance as normal. An important part of motivational interviewing is proposing alternatives in a neutral manner, provoking change talks, statements of recognition that clients make when he/she expresses the need or intention to change, concern for his/her current position, or the belief that change is possible.

4. Support for self-efficacy

In order to change, the client must believe that he/she is capable of making a change.

Self-Determination Theory

Self-determination theory (STD) is a theory of personality development and self-motivated behavioural change, developed out of testing the effects of rewards, praise, or directives on intrinsic motivation (Markland, Ryan, Tobin & Rollnick, 2005). Of special interest is how people incorporate extrinsic motivations and

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Self-determination theory and work motivation (summary)

Self-determination theory and work motivation (summary)

Self-determination theory and work motivation

Gagné, M., & Deci, E. (2005). Self-determination theory and work motivation. Journal Of Organizational Behavior26(4), 331-362.

The dichotomy between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation in cognitive evaluation theory, which explains the effects of extrinsic motivators on intrinsic motivation, made it difficult to apply the theories to work settings. Emphasizing different types of extrinsic motivation, which differ in their degree of autonomy, led to self-determination theory. This article is about self-determination theory as a theory of work motivation.

Porter and Lawler (1968) proposed a model of:

  • Intrinsic work motivation- involves people doing activity which they find enjoyable

  • Extrinsic work motivation- involves people doing activity where satisfaction does not come from activity itself but rather from the consequences to which activity leads.

Both Porter and Lawler also proposed structuring the work environment in order to produce total job satisfaction. They proposed achieving this by extending jobs to make them more interesting (more intrinsically rewarding) and by making the ways to accomplish extrinsic rewards (such as higher pay and promotions) more clear. The assumption present in this theory is that intrinsic and extrinsic rewards are additive. However, this was found to be quite controversial, since some studies found that extrinsic rewards undermined intrinsic motivation, while verbal rewards enhanced it, implying that intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can be both positively and negatively interactive.

Cognitive Evaluation Theory

According to Cognitive evaluation theory, external factors such as rewards, deadlines and evaluations undermine intrinsic motivation. For intrinsic motivation, feelings of competence and autonomy are extremely important. To stimulate intrinsic motivation, activities should be optimally challenging and people should receive positive feedback, which promotes the feeling of competence. Negative feedback was found to undermine both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, making people to feel amotivated. A meta-analysis of 128 laboratory experiments confirmed that positive feedback increases intrinsic motivation, while external rewards undermine it. It was also found that when rewards were given unexpected/independent of specific task engagement, extrinsic rewards did not undermine intrinsic motivation. Additionally, when rewards were given depending on performance in a supportive way, they enhanced intrinsic motivation relative to a comparison condition with no rewords or feedback. However, these kinds of rewards did lead to lower intrinsic motivation compared to a control group that got positive feedback. To sum up, extrinsic factors such as competitions and evaluations can be harmful to creativity, cognitive flexibility and problem solving.

There are five main problems with Cognitive evaluation theory as a theory of work motivation:

  1. Most studies that tested CET were laboratory experiments.

  2. It was difficult to include CET suggestions into behavioral and expectancy-valence approaches.

  3. Many activities in work organizations are not intrinsically interesting.

  4. Most people work to earn the money so using monetary rewards seems appealing.

  5. CET seems to indicate that managers should focus on either promoting intrinsic motivation or by using rewards extrinsic motivation.

Self-determination theory

The most important thing about SDT is the distinction

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Twelve tips to stimulate intrinsic motivation in students (summary)

Twelve tips to stimulate intrinsic motivation in students (summary)

Twelve tips

Twelve tips to stimulate intrinsic motivation in students through autonomy-supportive classroom teaching derived from Self-Determination Theory

Kusurkar, R., Croiset, G., & Ten Cate, O. (2011). Twelve tips to stimulate intrinsic motivation in students through autonomy-supportive classroom teaching derived from Self-Determination Theory. Med Teach33(12), 978-982.

This article provides 12 tips that can be used to stimulate intrinsic motivation:

1. Identify and nurture what students need and want.

Make an attempt to understand what students want out of the teaching sessions and structure the format of teaching around these needs. This is to make the learning more relevant, intriguing and interesting, thus stimulating among the students a genuine interest in the subject, hence intrinsic motivation.

2. Have students’ internal states guide their behaviour.

Structuring the lesson around the needs of the students helps to create a state of self-determined motivation (internal state) among these students. When genuinely interested, students will invest time an effort into learning about a particular topic, and are more likely to come to class prepared and participate in discussions.

3. Encourage active participation

Encourage active participation makes learning more autonomous, and gives educators an opportunity to provide feedback. Group work, seating arrangements, and class discussions are all methods that can stimulate active participation

4. Encourage students to accept more responsibility for their learning

Having responsibility for their own learning has been shown to stimulate students’ motivation. This can be achieved by ending the session with further questions to be discussed in the next sessions and allotting some ‘nice to know’ topics for self-study.

5. Provide structured guidance

This calls for a delicate balance between letting the students take the lead and bringing in own expertise in the subject matter whenever required. Contrary to simply leaving students to do everything themselves, providing structured guidance involves being present and nudging students onto the correct path when they stray too far away from the point of a particular lesson.

6. Provide optimal challenges

Providing challenges to students not only gives them a sense of autonomy and competence, but also allows them to develop skills that will be valuable in the long run, such as presenting to an informed audience. Students should not be forced to take part in these activities, but participate out of their own volition. It would also mean giving students, who are not well-prepared for such challenges, more time to gather their courage and mentally prepare for them.

7. Give positive and constructive feedback

Giving timely positive and constructive feedback shows the gap between the current and the desired understanding, rather than the task of learning (ie, as provided by grades.) The manner of giving feedback should be non-threatening, directed towards learning issues and not towards the person, phrased in a positive way and giving tips for improvement in the future. Giving positive feedback does not mean that corrective feedback for errors made should not be given. It rather means that this feedback should be phrased as ‘points for improvement’, thus isolating it from any negative

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The influence of the intensity of the stimulus on the length of the reaction time (summary)

The influence of the intensity of the stimulus on the length of the reaction time (summary)

The influence of the intensity of the stimulus on the length of the reaction time

Cattell, J. M. (1948). The influence of the intensity of the stimulus on the length of the reaction time, 1885. In W. Dennis (Ed), Readings in the history of psychology. (pp. 323–325). East Norwalk, CT, US: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

After the work of Wundt, Exner, and others, Cattell and Berger were carrying out further experiments to determine the relationship between intensity of a stimulus and reaction time in the Psychological Laboratory at the University of Leipzig. These experiments focused on electric shocks and light, and their effects on simple reaction time and reaction time complicated by other cerebral operations. "Reaction time" refers to the time between the presentation of a stimulus and the beginning of a muscular contraction.

Cattell and Berger experimented on themselves with eight different light intensities. In a second study, they investigated four different intensities of electric shocks on reaction time. Both studies concluded that as stimulus intensity increases, reaction time decreases.

In a third study, the researchers began to wonder whether the colour of the light made a difference. They found, however, that reaction time and light colour were not correlated. They did, however, find that when it was necessary to distinguish the colour of the light before reacting, reaction time increased. It was found, therefore, that the time it takes to perceive a colour becomes shorter as the light intensity increases, but the time it took to perceive a colour was not a function of the intensity of the stimulus.

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The calibration of minds and machines in late nineteenth-century psychology (summary)

The calibration of minds and machines in late nineteenth-century psychology (summary)

In pursuit of precision: The calibration of minds and machines in late nineteenth-century psychology

Benschop, R., & Draaisma, D. (2000). In pursuit of precision: The calibration of minds and machines in late nineteenth-century psychology. Annals Of Science, 57(1), 1–25.

The measurements have to be exact and observations as accurate as possible, instruments should register even small differences and yield outcomes on increasingly fine scales. Precision was developed for specific reasons and it was not linear shift but rather process that in each science it had its own course, pace, delays and stagnations. Psychological laboratory founded by Wundt (Leipzig, 1879) - the first of its kind in the world was the first place where actual cult of precision appeared, especially in the area of the measurement of reaction times to sensory stimuli. This experimental programme is also known as “mental chronometry” within which Wundt and his assistants set the standards of precision by means of an instruments and by using strict rules on the social organization of experiments. In this article origin and development of mental chronometry will be presented as well as Wundt’s effort to reach the degree of precision he considered necessary for the measurement of mental processes-one thousandth of a second.

Chronoscope- a clock-like instrument that was registering reactions in thousands of seconds was instrument every laboratory possessed. For classroom demonstrations chronoscope was often available as well as stopwatches and chronometers. All these chronometrical instruments were used to measure reaction times. The first to suspect that the velocity of the nerve impulse had a measurable speed was Helmholtz and his Dutch colleague F.C. Donders gave this research a psychological twist. Donders struggled from 1865 with a question whether the duration of processes such as distinguishing, willing and choosing can be measured. In experiment that marked the birth of “mental chronometry” an electrode was attached to the feet of an experimental subject. In one condition the subject knew in advance if a mild shock will be administered on the right or left foot and he had to move his hand as fast as possible on the side where he felt it thus breaking an electric switch. In the other condition the subject didn’t know on which foot the stimulus will be presented. Donder’s apparatus registered the difference in between these two conditions which was one-fifteenth of a second. It was the first time psychological process was able to determine and Donder’s registration of the reaction time marked the moment from which human mind was possible to measure. Donders did not continue with this research, it was taken over by Wundt and his assistants. Reaction time measurement turned psychology into a counting, a calculating, and a measuring science.

The instrument that contributed so much to the punctuality of psychological experimentation had its origins in the business of English artillery. In 1840 Charles Wheatstone constructed a device for measuring the velocity of projectiles. In 1842 there was an improved model of this instrument invented by the Swiss watchmaker and mechanic

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Clinical Psychology (summary)

Clinical Psychology (summary)

Clinical Psychology

Witmer, L. (1907). Clinical Psychology. Reprinted in American Psychologist, 51(3), 248–251.

In the late eighties under laboratory of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania had conducted „psychological clinic” under the Witmer's supervision. Children from the public schools of Philadelphia and neighbor places have been brought to the laboratory by their parents or teachers. Those children were brought because of the inability to progress in school work as rapidly as other children or to manage under ordinary discipline. In the laboratory children were given physical and mental examination after which if it was needed, they would be sent to specialist.

To illustrate the operation of the psychological clinic, the example of case sent to laboratory from a city of Pennsylvania was taken. The 10 year old boy, without any apparent physical defect was brought by his parents because he had made so little progress in four years which he spent at school. The child seemed to be of normal intelligence except for the retardation in school work. Specialist confirmed the absence of mental degeneracy and of physical defect. Nothing more serious than a slight far-sighted astigmatism was found and the end conclusion of this examination was to return the child to the school with the recommendation to the teacher to develop child’s intelligence with required three months of observation to determine whether his condition was based upon an arrest of cerebral development or it is the result of inadequate methods of education.

Witmer’s attention was first drawn to the phenomena of retardation in 1889 where he at that time as a psychology student was called upon to give instruction in English to a boy who was preparing to enter the collage with remarkable deficiency in the English language. The boy compose correctly even simple sentence, making no distinction between present and past.

Witmer started with basics, teaching the boy as he was in the third grade. Witmer argue that is seemed to be due to the fact that he had verbal deafness, which he believed, was caused by defect of articulation. Witmer gave no attention to the subjects required in English for college entrance but focused on the drill in articulation and in perfecting his verbal audition  which resulted with a great improvement and the boy finally entered the college department of the University of Pennsylvania in the following year. Later in 1894-95 the boy was Witmer’s student and he was still struggling with his articulation, his written discourse and his verbal audition. Even though on the end, he managed to graduate, his deficiencies in language have never been entirely overcome. Witmer is arguing that if the boy was given adequate instruction in articulation in the early years of childhood he could have overcome his defect.

The second case was a fourteen years old boy who was brought to Witmer’s laboratory by his teacher. The boy was a chronic bad speller and his teacher was a psychology student by that time who thought that psychologist should be able

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Lightner Witmer: Little-known founder of clinical psychology (summary)

Lightner Witmer: Little-known founder of clinical psychology (summary)

Lightner Witmer: Little-known founder of clinical psychology

McReynolds, P. (1987). Lightner Witmer: Little-known founder of clinical psychology. American Psychologist, 42(9), 849–858.

Lightner Witmer started the first psychological clinic in 1896 and was important in establishing the field of clinical psychology. He took his doctorate under Wilhem Wundt and was a charter member of the American Psychological Association. Even though he is an important figure in the history of psychology, little information about him has been available. In 1892, in the age of 25 Lightner Witmer returned from Europe where he had earned a PhD in psychology under Wilhelm Wundt. Witmer was returning to the University of Pennsylvania as it was previously agreed that he will take over the laboratory there if he successfully finished his doctorate in Leipzig. Thus in 1892 he began his term on the Pennsylvania faculty that was to last 45 years. In the same time Angell inaugurated experimental psychology at the recently founded Stanford University, and Titchener replaced Angell at Cornell while Münsterberg begun his term at Harvard. American psychology was taking on a shape that it would hold in following years. The American Psychological Association (APA) was also founded in 1892 and Witmer together with G. Stanley Hall, William James, George Ladd and Cattell, was one of its charter members. The first annual meeting of APA took place at the University of Pennsylvania in the same year and Witmer read two papers what was the beginning of his professional career. Witmer founded the world’s first psychological clinic at the University of Pennsylvania in 1896. Witmer’s most important accomplishment was not a specific event but the insight that the new psychology might be of direct help to people. Even though he contributed a lot to the field of psychology he somehow remains little-known figure. There are three possible explanations for that. First, histories of psychology, following the model of Boring’s (1950) History of Experimental Psychology put emphasis on experimental psychology. Thus, despite the fact that clinical psychology is the largest field of psychology most history texts devote little attention to the history of clinical psychology. Second, Witmer’s clinical orientation was one with contrasting dominant clinical perspectives, which helped in not creating strong interest for him. He was also not in sympathy with Freudian dynamic model which later strongly influenced clinical psychology. And third, Witmer is unknown because there are no papers of the kind professors usually accumulate over a career. He is probably the least documented of all the founders of American psychology.

Biography

Witmer was born on June 28, 1867, in Philadelphia. He was the eldest of three children and his father, David Lightner Witmer, was a highly successful pharmacist, who graduated from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy in 1862. The Witmer family was intensely oriented toward education; all three children earned doctoral degrees. Witmer entered the University of Pennsylvania in 1884 and graduated in 1888. After he obtained BA, Witmer was teaching history and English at secondary school in Philadelphia for two years.

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Alfred Binet – A truly applied psychologist (summary)

Alfred Binet – A truly applied psychologist (summary)

Alfred Binet – A truly applied psychologist

Howard, R. (2009). Alfred Binet - a truly applied psychologist. Psychologist, 22(3), 278–279. 

Alfred Binet, was a psychologist that created the Stanford-Binet IQ test, the Binet-Simon test. His aim in his tests was to classify the educational properties of the children, and not to quantify them.

Binet focused on a test that would improve, and possibly direct the academic future of the kids. Terman, on the contrary, identified the educational special needs of the mentally retarded.

Binet was more focused on what we call today as "Social intelligence". Binet believed that the key was good judgment, initiative and adaptation.

In addition to being a forensic psychologist, Binet made a study that proved that witnesses have a poor memory in regards to the events they witnessed, and thus their reliability may be questioned.

Binet also created a study on children, which applied interrogation and memory manipulation. In this study, Binet would show the children simple objects such as stamps and would then induce memory errors in the kids. He would ask them to reproduce a stamp by drawing it, while hiding a part of it. The result was that the kids completed the drawing of the stamp, with a postmark on it, although the actual stamp had no postmark.

Binet mentioned two types of memory errors- Logical and imagination. In logical errors, the child would answer a question using their imagination and with no logic. In the imagination error, the child would use their imagination to construct an object that had no connection to reality.

Loftus and colleagues found interrogative suggestibility as an apparatus that people use to integrate post-event information into their memory. "Discrepancy detection" is a dysfunctional central cognitive mechanism that mediates interrogative suggestibility.

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Efficiency of women workers (summary)

Efficiency of women workers (summary)

Efficiency of women workers

Gilbreth, L. M. (1929). Efficiency of Women Workers. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 143, 61–64. 

The basics of efficiency means a work load that has been done, in the shortest time possible, with the greatest amount of satisfaction and the least amount of effort. The most study progress that has been done is testing efficiency while differences are small. Thus, efficiency of women workers is tested in a generalized manner.

Job analysis in relation to efficiency

The first step is to perform a sufficient analysis of the working position. This stands for finding the extent of the job, the type of person best suited for the position, and how, when and where it can be performed.

This technique allows to find other jobs similar to the one the worker is tested upon, and also to adapt the system for shifts and possible transfers or promotions for the employee, even in different fields.

The work analysis includes the physical, mental and emotional pre-requisites to perform the job at hand. The test personally analyzes the worker, and allows a definitive view of which qualities the worker possesses in comparison to what the job requires. This could increase the workers' chance to be accepted.

In the study of satisfaction, while the job is being done, will allow the worker to evaluate what he receives from the job and to know what he may look from other similar jobs. Sex differences have not been found, but are visible, and the lack of satisfaction usually comes from lack of opportunity to enjoy the job.

The worker is susceptible to boredom or apathy if he/she is given a job that does not suit him/her. An efficient management will require the worker to perform training for the job, but the training will be fashioned in such a way that the work will be satisfactory.

In many studies done across the industry, it was found that the sex of the worker or the place of the job are not factors to determine the lack of efficiency, unless there is lack of opportunity.

Job analysis and equality of opportunity for women

The job analysis opens paths for women to work in many fields, and showing their potential and ability, while being satisfied performing it.

The woman worker is not different from the man in regards to the technique used to operate the job. But women do differ in physicality, mentally and emotionally; yet there is insufficient proof for this claim.

Unlimited opportunities should be granted to all, regardless of sex, though individual achievements should be monitored and carefully analyzed to test whether the person is apt for the job, while observing satisfaction.

Some requirements for efficiency in women workers

Several requirements need to be met before a woman can find herself efficient in the work she does.

First, it is the philosophy that the work that she does must be loved by her, in order to find herself fulfilled,

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Natural suggestibility in children (summary)

Natural suggestibility in children (summary)

Natural suggestibility in children

Binet, A., & Henri, V. (2011/1894). Natural suggestibility in children. Consciousness and Cognition, 20(2), 394–398.

In past studies, researchers used certain conditions, such as sleep, on their subjects to increase the power of suggestibility on people that were susceptible to it. In this way, researchers caused subjects to have hallucinations, warped concepts etc. while their sense of judgment is paralyzed.

It is known that in a class, a teacher can use suggestion with his words, encouragements actions etc. on his students. This phenomenon can be described as "Natural suggestion", as it occurs on normal situations.

Nicolas, Coollins, Gounden, and Roediger (2010) conducted a research which was done on children. These children were instructed to memorize various lines and later recognize them on a board containing lines of different lengths. The suggestion was done simply by a researcher asking the student: "Are you sure it is the correct line?" This suggestion is similar to the kind of suggestion a teacher uses on his pupils, to reinforce their answers and test their responses.

The researchers tested the effects of suggestion in three different ways:

Suggestion by a preconceived idea

In this test, three model lines were subsequently shown to children. Then they had to find these lines one after the other among other lines of different lengths displayed on a board.

Once the preliminary phase was done, the test was repeated on a second board which was similar to the first, only the third line was excluded. The children were uninformed of the change, and had to discover that by themselves. Either the children noticed the third line was missing, or they did not.

The researchers presumed that the child would believe that the third line existed on the first, and on the second board as well. A child can still notice the change with his eye glance, but furthermore, he must also have the courage to tell the experimenter about the missing line on the second board.

On this test, certain students failed to witness the missing line, although this was due to poor memory or eye glance, and these students were removed from the test during a test run.

In this experiment, it was shown that the younger kids are more susceptible to suggestion, and between the ages of 8 and 11, there seems to be significant difference.

It seems that the child's age and his shyness both contribute to the effects of suggestibility.

Verbal suggestion by the experimenter

In this experiment, a child would have to study lines on a board, and later on he would have to find those lines again through a series of different lines. While the child pronounced the line he would find, the experimenter would cite "Are you really sure? Is it not the next line?" in a unified fashion to all of the children.

As the class level went higher, the children were less susceptible to suggestion, and the question that came from the experimenter affected them less

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Lillian M. Gilbreth's contributions to the development of management thought (summary)

Lillian M. Gilbreth's contributions to the development of management thought (summary)

From scientific management to homemaking: Lillian M. Gilbreth's contributions to the development of management thought

Krenn, M. (2011). From scientific management to homemaking: Lillian M. Gilbreth’s contributions to the development of management thought. Management & Organizational History, 6(2), 145 –161.

Introduction

Lillian Moller Gilbreth was one of the pioneers of management theory. She is renowned as the "First lady of engineering, "the first lady of management", and the "Mother of industrial psychology. Her book The Psychology of management contributed greatly to the understanding of people in industry, and was signed on her name, but without her acknowledgment as a woman.

Part 1: Frank and Lillian Gilbreth in scientific management

The efficiency couple

Lillian Evelyn Moller was born in 1878 in Oakland, California. She excelled in her education and received her bachelor and master's degrees in English literature from California University in Berkeley, where she also started her doctorate in Psychology.

She married Frank Bunker Gilbreth in October 1904. During their marriage, Frank was working on his construction company, which was well renowned for being the fastest to construct buildings and other constructs. Frank was passionate about his work and continued to find ways to efficiently increase the work his company did. Lillian educated herself in the building construction trade and researched ways to standardize the construction practices. She was an integral part of her husband's work.

In one of his letters to a friend, Frank indicated that due to sexual discrimination at the time, they wrote his wife on his books only through her initials.

The Taylor system

Fredrick Winslow Taylor, the father of scientific management suggested to add science into business. He said that bad management of business causes a fissure between achieving maximum production and efficiency.

By using time study in a standard setting and planning the work ahead of time and inventing schemas the work output can be maximized. This would break the jobs at hand into parts, test them, and even reconstruct them while the job is being done.

Frank became close friends with Taylor and assisted his lecturing on the topic.

The efficiency craze

The evolving era provided grounds for a wide acceptance of Taylor's system of scientific management and the impending efficiency craze. In the early 20th century, factories were growing rapidly and society took a leap forward, and with that came many issues.

Efficiency and scientific management became popular and many experts rose to provide society with efficient tools which applied Taylor's method in a wide range of institutions.

In 1911 the Taylor system took the public's attention and started to become accepted, though some governmental divisions believed Taylor's system could cause labor problems.

Motion study

Motion Study (1911) was the first book that showed Lillian's influence on the work of the couple, as her psychology expertise grew. The book placed a bold line over the human element. The book showed that to bring a system to work, the human factor and its quality must be recognized in addition to motion, tools,

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Exploring the Mechanisms of Self-Control Improvement (summary)

Exploring the Mechanisms of Self-Control Improvement (summary)

Self-Control/ Self-Regulation

Inzlicht, M., Legault, L., & Teper, R. (2014). Exploring the Mechanisms of Self-Control Improvement. Current Directions In Psychological Science, 23(4), 302-307. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0963721414534256

Self-control, also known as willpower or executive function, is thought to be one of the most significant underlying factors in many behaviours. It can be defined as the mental processes that allow people to overcome urges, juggle competing tasks, and sustain attention. Failure in self-control manifests itself in life's common problems, such as obesity, financial debt, criminality, and infidelity. This article provides a framework that helps organize various methods that have been used to improve self-control

Cybernetics

Cybernetics is the scientific study of control, based on the characteristics of feedback loops, and is used to model control in people, animals, and machines. Cybernetic principles suggest that control relies on three separate processes: setting goals, monitoring when behavior conflicts with these goals, and implementing behavior that supports these goals.

These components are connected to one another via a feedback loop:

  • First, a dieter sets a specific goal for the kinds of food he wants to eat (e.g., “Eat more broccoli, less chips”).

  • Second, he monitors his eating behavior, looking for instances when his behavior deviates from his eating goals (e.g., “I’m eating chips now”).

  • Third, when such discrepancies are detected, he changes his behavior (e.g., “Put down the chips, grab broccoli!”).

Setting Goals

The first step in establishing and improving self-control is setting goals. Goals are mental representations of future desired outcomes to which people are committed; they are more than fleeting desires and intentions. A goal requires the subject to commit thought, emotion, and behavior to attain them. Goal setting is process that creates a discrepancy between what one wants to be like and what one is currently like, and this discrepancy sets a goal in motion.

A goal must be specific, for example “Eat salad for lunch three times a week for the next month,” as opposed to an abstract goal “Try my best to eat well.” Setting concrete and measurable goals improves performance because it allows for straightforward monitoring of goal–behavior mismatches. Without this monitoring, people would not be able to track their progress and make appropriate improvements.

Setting goals that are aligned with personal values will contribute to greater self-control. Research has shown that the amount of motivation is not the only factor in the successful completion of goals; the quality of this motivation is also important. When goals are driven by intrinsic motivation, when they hold some kind of personal meaning, behaviour becomes easier to control. The reason for this is that autonomously selected goals are monitored with greater urgency, thereby facilitating the implementation of control

Improving Control by Monitoring

After people have set specific self-aligned goals, the next step is to examine one's behvaiour and pick out the discrepancies between the current behaviour and target behaviour. These discrepancies alert people to the possibility that their goals are in

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A Social Cognitive View of Self-Regulated Learning About Health (summary)

A Social Cognitive View of Self-Regulated Learning About Health (summary)

A Social Cognitive View of Self-Regulated Learning About Health

Clark, N., & Zimmerman, B. (2014). A Social Cognitive View of Self-Regulated Learning About Health. Health Education & Behavior, 41(5), 485-491. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1090198114547512

This article presents a social cognitive view of self-regulation that involves three classes of influence on self-regulating behavior: personal, behavioral, and environmental. This triadic model assumes that people self-regulate their health through the use of self-care strategies, setting reasonable health goals, and monitoring feedback concerning the effectiveness of strategies in meeting their goals.

Self-Regulated Learning

Behaviour has been thought to be influenced by three main domains:

  • Personal factors, including cognitive and affective factors

  • Behavioural factors, such as one's actions and reactions to situations and issues

  • Environmental factors, including social and physical circumstances

Self-regulation is the process by which an individual attempts to control these three (triadic) factors to reach a goal. Early research by Bandura indicated that three classes of covert cognitive consequences sustained self-control: intrinsic sensory consequences, anticipatory consequences, and evaluative consequences. For example, a piano student may be motivated to practice by the melodic feedback of the music (sensory consequence), the hope for a professional career (an anticipatory consequence), and/or self-praise or criticism (evaluative consequences.) Evaluative consequences have been thought to be the most effective, as they do not depend on outside influences.

Bandura worked further in proposing a four-step model for the development of self-regulation:

  • Desired behaviours could be modeled by agents such as parents or teachers.

  • An explicit set of performance requirements could be set and linked to a system of incentives.

  • As the model withdraws support, children could be taught self-regulatory functions: standard setting, evaluation and self-reinforcement.

  • Finally, attention could be paid to the child’s reference group so that the newly achieved level of self-regulation would be supported by the response and actions of family and friends

Bandura further emphasised the importance of self-efficacy, a person’s self-reaction to the prospect of performing a behavior, in self-regulation. Studies indicate that motivation to reach one’s goal is sustained by continuing self-perceptions of efficacy.

To develop self-regulation, it is important to look at social models who display self-observation, judgmental processes, and self-reactions. After that, one should try to master these behaviours. Once acquired, self-regulatory processes will not be continued unless they produce perceived benefits to the user, such as improved health, or control over aversive events such as illness or disability.

According to Bandura, self-regulation consists of three sub-processes: self-observation, self-judgment, and self-reactions. Zimmerman (1990) posits that perceptions of self-efficacy serve as a sort of thermostat that regulates the proposed self-regulation loop. For example, a smoker’s use of a self-monitoring strategy (counting urges to smoke that are resisted) will provide feedback about success in reducing cigarette consumption. The continued use of this strategy will depend on its efficacy.

Environmental Influences on Self-Regulation

Environmental influences include physical contexts and social sources that affect self-regulation. For example, if a

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Implementation Intentions (summary)

Implementation Intentions (summary)

Implementation Intentions

Gollwitzer, P. (1999). Implementation intentions: Strong effects of simple plans. American Psychologist, 54(7), 493-503. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0003-066x.54.7.493

The successful pursuit of goals consists of strongly committing to goals and effectively implementing them. However, the sole act of strongly committing to a goal may not be sufficient because goal achievement may be hindered by problems, such as failing to get started and keeping on track or overextending oneself. After one is strongly committed to a goal, it is necessary to plan out how to deal with possible unexpected situations.

Gollwitzer (1999) emphasized importance of supplementing goal intentions (goals) with implementation intentions where implementation intentions define when, where, and how one wants to act on one’s goals. The if-component of an implementation intention defines when, where, and how one wants to act and the then-component describes how it will be done.

Making implementation intentions not only boosts the activation of the mental representation of the situational cue in the if-component but also forms a link between the mental representation of this cue and mental representation of the specified response. Gollwitzer (1999) suggested that once the critical cue is encountered the initiation of the goal-directed response displays features of automatically. There is empirical evidence that if-then planners act more quickly and effectively with cognitive demands and forming if-then plan automates goal striving. Strategic automation hypothesis has been supported by studies that gathered data using EEG or fMRI. Implementation intentions help goal achievement when goal commitment is high. Self-efficacy was found to control effects of implementation intention while socially prescribed perfectionist (people who always try to please others) show weaker implementation intention effects. It was also found that conscientiousness controls implementation intention effects where increases in goal achievement are only found for low conscientiousness individuals and in those individuals with high conscientiousness cannot be enhanced (because they already show perfect goal attainment when they begin).

Implementation intention effects are usually stronger for difficult goals, and they are helping in getting started and keeping on track. Two types of implementation intentions are effective in mastering temptations. First one defines the temptation as a situational cue and links it to thinking of the goal as the response in then-component. The second one defines an ongoing activity (which is independent of the temptation) as a situational cue and links it to continuing this activity as the response in the then-component. Implementation intentions also help individuals in engaging in automated goal striving and behavior control. Even though by forming implementation intentions people might be able to break out the bad habits if it is about strong habit, habitual response should win over the if-then planned response. Stronger implementation intention effects are found in goals, which are framed as approach rather than avoidance goals.

It is good to keep in mind that behavior can also be changed, not only changing old habits, but also by focusing on new habits. Oettingen (2012) developed a self-regulation strategy for goal setting called mental contrasting in which people imagine desire future

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Self-Regulation Failure: Procrastination (summary)

Self-Regulation Failure: Procrastination (summary)

Self-Regulation Failure: Procrastination

Blouin-Hudon, E., & Pychyl, T. (2015). Experiencing the temporally extended self: Initial support for the role of affective states, vivid mental imagery, and future self-continuity in the prediction of academic procrastination. Personality And Individual Differences, 86, 50-56. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2015.06.003

Introduction

A common problem when dealing with boring, challenging, or unfulfilling tasks is simply getting started on the task. It can be easy to feel “stuck” and unable to move forward with a project, a relationship, or with life in general, which is problematic because it can distract one's attention away from long-term objectives, influence the specious pursuit of short-term gains, and ultimately decrease well-being. What is especially problematic about these numbers is that the tasks that are being put off involve important long-term goal pursuits. Many seem to prefer smaller, instant rewards, allowing the present self uses the needless delay of procrastination as a short-term emotion-focused coping strategy. The authors hypothesized that higher levels of perceived self-continuity would be related to lower levels of self-reported procrastination, because higher self-continuity would help individuals experience future self as a direct extension of present self.

Conceptualising Procrastination and Future Self-Continuity

Procrastination represents the voluntary delay of an intended action and can be conceptualized as an avoidant coping strategy, which falls under the broader family of self-regulatory failures. Sirois and Pychyl (2013) have proposed that a disconnection between present and future self might explain why procrastinators predominantly focus on present gains while failing to anticipate their own affective reaction to future aversive tasks. For example, one study found evidence that individuals who report low future self-continuity are more likely to engage in self-regulation failures, such as saving less money for retirement.

Future self-continuity represents the extent to which a person feels connected and similar to his or her future self and is central to creating a fluid sense of identity through subjective time. Achieving a continuous sense of self may not come naturally to some, as multiple selves can be experienced throughout a lifetime. The present self's attachment to its past selves has been found to be dependent on the amount of time passed between the selves. Neuroscience research also supports the central role of the conception of self temporally by illustrating that certain areas of the brain activate differently for future self than for present self.

Procrastination and the temporally extended self

Studies have found that procrastinators almost exclusively adopt a present-focused perspective and rarely project themselves into the future. As future self-continuity is important for guiding appropriate emotional responses and daily goal-oriented behaviors, procrasticnation cna be explained as a fragmented relationship between a person's present and future self.

Since the future-self can only be imagined, a reduced or heightened ability to mentally create and manipulate vivid mental images may help explain why certain individuals feel more or less connected with that self.  

Studies

In each of the three studies outlined in this paper, participants were asked to imagine their future self in ten years (studies 1 and 2) and in

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Acceptance-Based Therapy and Procrastination (summary)

Acceptance-Based Therapy and Procrastination (summary)

Acceptance-Based Therapy and Procrastination

Glick, D., & Orsillo, S. (2015). An investigation of the efficacy of acceptance-based behavioral therapy for academic procrastination. Journal Of Experimental Psychology: General, 144(2), 400-409. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xge0000050

Procrastination, a problem associated with poorer performance and mental functioning, is widespread among college students. While this issue has persisted for decades, a "gold standard" treatment option has not yet been developed. In the present study, procrastination was viewed as a behavioral manifestation of a trait, rather than a trait characteristic itself. In addition, it was viewed as a discrepancy between the intended and the actual time frame for starting or completing work.

Previous studies have found time management strategies and the development of study skills to improve procrastination; but these studies are all inconsistent in their operationalisation of procrastination and methodology used. Time management strategies, while effective, may not sufficiently target other factors that play a causal or maintaining role in the behavior. For example, procrastination has been found to be associated with anxiety, fear of failure, and problems with emotional regulation.

Recently, it has been proposed that chronic procrastination may result from psychological inflexibility. Psychological inflexibility is defined by six key psychological processes (i.e., the “hexaflex” model: experiential avoidance, cognitive fusion, dominance of the conceptualized past or future, attachment to the conceptualized self, lack of values clarity, and unworkable action/inaction.)

Two studies directly examined the hypothesis that psychological inflexibility might partially account for the relationship between anxiety and procrastination. Their results suggest that attempts to avoid, suppress, or alter anxious thoughts and emotions decreased acceptance of internal experiences and reduced valuing of academic pursuits, which contribute to the prediction of academic procrastination over and above that predicted by anxiety alone. Thus, procrastination may result from one’s response to anxiety rather than to the anxiety itself.

The aim of acceptance-based behaviour therapies (ABBT) is to enhance psychological flexibility by decreasing experiential avoidance and encouraging engagement in valued activities, by using the following strategies:

  • Psychoeducation: the function of emotions

  • Mindfulness: observation of thoughts and feelings as transient experiences

  • Values articulation: identification of the areas of life that are most personally meaningful

Individuals are encouraged to view their painful thoughts and emotions as natural, transient responses that can be observed and allowed instead of self-defining experiences that direct behavior. ABBT has been shown to be effective in the treatment of anxiety, addictive behaviours, chronic pain, and depression. Some examples in its application to procrastination include:

  • Encouraging students to view their thoughts and feelings about academic performance as separate from their self-definition and identities

  • Reminding students that change involves tolerating uncomfortable emotions

  • Asking students to consider how a miracle would change their lives, to help individuals identify their values and become aware of the ways avoidance and procrastination interferes with quality of life

The results from these interventions suggest that there may be benefits to an ABBT-informed procrastination reduction program. To date, there is

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A review of the causes and consequences of optimism (summary)

A review of the causes and consequences of optimism (summary)

Seeing the glass half full: A review of the causes and consequences of optimism

Forgeard, M., & Seligman, M. (2012). Seeing the glass half full: A review of the causes and consequences of optimism. Pratiques Psychologiques, 18(2), 107-120.

The psychological trait of optimism influences how individuals perceive themselves and their environment, how they process incoming information, as well as how they decide to act based on this information. Pessimists often behave in ways that are geared towards worst-case scenarios, while optimists tend to trust that the future will be favourable. According to past research, optimism and pessimism appear to have a particularly important effect on how individuals deal with challenging and stressful events. Even so, many people dismiss the effect of optimism, calling optimists naïve or in denial. This is because pessimism and its realistic view of the world seem appealing and rational when contrasted with the popular notion that optimism equates with foolishness, naiveté or denial; however, research shows that the way in which psychologists think of optimism does not involve forced enthusiasm or denial of the truth

What is Optimism?

Anthropologist Lionel Tiger defines optimism as “a mood or attitude associated with an expectation about the social or material future – one which the evaluator regards as socially desirable, to his [or her] advantage, or for his [or her] pleasure”. This means that optimism is a cognitive, affective and motivational construct - optimists both think and feel positively about the future.

The two ways in which researchers have operationalized optimism are the optimistic explanatory style approach, and the dispositional optimism approach

Optimistic Explanatory Style

This approach, developed by Seligman et al., is inspired by the observation that most (but not all) animals and humans give up when exposed to uncontrollable stressors and remain helpless when the situation becomes controllable. This behaviour is otherwise known as "learned helplessness." Helpless is associated with a pessimistic explanatory style; pessimists believe that negatives events are always present ("things will never change in the future"), have a global effect ("this negative event has ruined my entire life"), and is the fault of their own. Pessimists also often do not take credit for good events, attributing their occurrence to luck. Additionally, they perceive positive events as short-lived (“I just performed well today but who knows what will happen tomorrow”), and only affect one aspect of their lives (“I may be good at this but I’m otherwise pretty stupid”).

The optimistic explanatory style is therefore the opposite. Optimists do acknowledge negative events, but see them as specific (“other things are still going well”) and unstable (“things will get better soon”). They think negative events in a constructive, non-fatalistic manner and trust in their ability to deal with stressful problems.

The main instruments used to assess optimistic explanatory style are the Attributional Style Questionnaire (ASQ) and Content Analysis of Verbatim Explanations (CAVE), which ask people (through open-ended questions that are eventually coded) how events are caused. In both methods, the extent to which people think

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Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration (summary)

Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration (summary)

Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration

Wood, A., Froh, J., & Geraghty, A. (2010). Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(7), 890-905.

The goal of the paper is to present a new model of gratitude (gratitude for receiving help but also by focusing and appreciating positive aspects of life; which is a life orientation approach). Gratitude is strongly related to well-being, and understanding how to improve well-being by fostering gratitude is extremely important in clinical psychology. This paper examines four forms of interventions to increase gratitude, along with methodological critiques, and a research agenda for the future study of these techniques. Finally, four mechanisms whereby gratitude may relate to well-being are evaluated.

Operationalisation of Gratitude

Within the field of gratitude research, a single definition has yet to be achieved. Several researchers have conceptualised gratitude as an emotion that is always directed towards appreciating the helpful actions of other people; however this conception fails to fully capture the aspects of life that people report to be their sources of gratitude, for example, in one study, participants reported “waking up in the morning” as a source of gratitude, and this does not appear to be directed towards a particular benefactor.

A "Life Orientation" Conception of Gratitude

The authors of this review propose that gratitude is part of a wider life orientation towards noticing and appreciating the positive in the world, distinct from other emotions such as optimism, hope, and trust. As such, three scales that measure gratitude have been developed:

  1. The Unifactorial GQ-6

  2. Multifactorial Appreciation Scale

  3. The multifactorial Gratitude, Appreciation and Resentment Test (GRAT)

Each of these scales arose from different conceptions of gratitude, and together, provide insight on the 8 aspects of gratitude:

  • Individual differences in the experience of grateful affect

  • Appreciation of other people

  • A focus on what the person has

  • Feelings of awe when encountering beauty

  • Behaviors to express gratitude

  • Focusing on the positive in the present moment

  • Appreciation rising from understanding life is short

  • A focus on the positive in the present moment

  • Positive social comparisons.

Studies have found that a grateful people express all eight aspects of gratitude. A further study found that these 8 aspects are all related; they are part of a higher form of gratitude. This supports the life orientation perspective of gratitude.

These eight aspects are to be taken as hierarchical. While all aspects are important, aspects in the same tier of the hierarchy are not necessarily identical. For example, in the Big Five Personality Model, both anxiety and vulnerability to stress fall under the category of neuroticism. Vulnerability to stress and anxiety are not the same construct, but are both indicators of a higher order 'neuroticism' dimension. As such, the hierarchical view of gratitude does not suggest that any two of the lower order facets of

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Find, Remind, and Bind: The Functions of Gratitude in Everyday Relationships (summary)

Find, Remind, and Bind: The Functions of Gratitude in Everyday Relationships (summary)

Find, Remind, and Bind: The Functions of Gratitude in Everyday Relationships

Algoe, S. (2012). Find, Remind, and Bind: The Functions of Gratitude in Everyday Relationships. Social And Personality Psychology Compass, 6(6), 455-469.

The "find, remind, and bind" theory of gratitude proposes that these three key actions are essential in strengthening a relationship with an interaction partner. This article claims that when the emotion of gratitude is experienced in response to a benefit, it is, in part, because the recipient has noticed a particularly responsive action on the part of a benefactor. In a social situation, a responsive gesture stands out from the rest: it signals that the person understands, approves, or cares about the self. This helps to bind the people in the relationship more closely together.

Emotions work to draw attention to a notable situation and to coordinate a response to that situation. Each emotion – whether negative/unpleasant or positive/pleasant – has been shaped by selection processes to draw attention to a specific type of recurring and important situation. In general, negative emotions are thought to draw attention to threats or problems in the environment, whereas positive emotions draw attention to opportunities. The emotional response, in turn, engages mind, body, and behavior in a coordinated way.

The find-remind-and-bind theory acknowledges that with humans’ interdependence comes a need to evaluate and know how we relate to our interaction partners. As a starting point, the theory emphasizes a different aspect of the situation that causes gratitude than prior, economic accounts: a unique appraisal that is relational. Gratitude draws attention to a rarer and potentially more important social opportunity: the opportunity to solidify a connection with someone who would be a high-quality dyadic relationship partner, that is, someone who will be there through thick and thin, both providing support and enriching one’s life. Independent of whether the benefit recipient values a benefit provided by another person, the authors hypothesized that an additional strong predictor of gratitude would be whether the benefactor was perceived to be responsive to the recipient’s needs and preferences when providing it. As predicted, recipient appraisal of benefactor responsiveness in providing the particular benefit was positively associated with feelings of gratitude for the benefit.

Communal relationship orientations are principally characterized by the provision of benefits based on another person’s need, not on expectation of repayment. Attention to perceived responsiveness and therefore communal relationship norms may sound like a subtle distinction from attention to repayment and exchange-based relationships, but it nonetheless has important implications for understanding and theorizing about how gratitude functions in social life. A responsively-provided benefit marks a prime opportunity: put selfishly, the responsive benefactor appears to be both motivated to be in one’s corner, and well-suited to be there, making for a very attractive relationship partner. This is qualitatively different than a focus on paying back an imbalance of debt.

In another study, more grateful people reported noticing new positive qualities in their benefactors and were more willing to associate with the benefactor in the future,

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The Promise of Sustainable Happiness (summary)

The Promise of Sustainable Happiness (summary)

The Promise of Sustainable Happiness

Boehm, J. K., & Lyubomirsky, S. (in press). The promise of sustainable happiness. In S. J. Lopez (Ed.), Handbook of positive psychology (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press

The article suggests that, despite several barriers withholding people to increase their well-being, less happy people can successfully strive to be happier by learning a variety of effortful strategies and practicing these with determination and commitment. They use the sustainable happiness model (by Lyubomirsky, Sheldon and Schkade, 2005) as theoretical framework. According to the model, three factors contribute to an individual’s happiness level:

  • The set point

  • Life circumstances

  • Intentional activities/effortful acts that are episodic and naturally variable

The journey to happiness has always and still is of great interest, there is empirical evidence that it even leads to positive life outcomes such as a higher income and stronger relationships. The question, however, is whether people can actually attain a level of sustainable happiness.

To answer this question, we first we look at what happy and unhappy people are like:

The first thing that comes to mind is the difference between their ‘objective’ circumstances that could cause a difference in their level of happiness. Some examples include: marital status, age, sex, culture, income etc. It is shown, however, that these factors do not explain the variation in people’s level of well-being.

The article proposes that happiness and unhappiness is due to the subjective experience and construal of the world by people. They interpret their environment differently, leading the authors to explore an individual thoughts, behaviors and motivations. Happier people see the world in a more positive, and thus happiness-promoting, way. Research suggests that happy people are this way because of multiple adaptive strategies:

Construal

Research that involved having happy and unhappy people reflect on similar hypothetical situations / actual life events, revealed that happy people view these events as more pleasant, while unhappy people view these same events as unfavourable..

Social comparison

Findings suggest that people that are happy are less sensitive to feedback about another person or his or her performance (favourable and unfavourable feedback). When performing ‘better’ on a task, all participants became more confident about their skills; however when the other was better, happy people were unaffected while unhappy people were, negatively. Unhappy people seem to feel positive emotions when a peer has done worse than them, even if they both got negative feedback. When they got positive feedback but performed at a lower level than a peer, they felt negative emotions. This was the case in both individual and group settings.

Decision-making

When happy people make life-altering decisions, they tend to be satisfied with their possible options, and only express negative emotions when their sense of self is threatened. Conversely, unhappy people were generally unhappy withthe options offered to them. Happy and unhappy people also differ in how they make decisions in the face of many options. Research suggests that happy individuals are relatively more

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The Positivity Bundle: content and contributions about optimism ..and a half full glass

A review of the causes and consequences of optimism (summary)

A review of the causes and consequences of optimism (summary)

Seeing the glass half full: A review of the causes and consequences of optimism

Forgeard, M., & Seligman, M. (2012). Seeing the glass half full: A review of the causes and consequences of optimism. Pratiques Psychologiques, 18(2), 107-120.

The psychological trait of optimism influences how individuals perceive themselves and their environment, how they process incoming information, as well as how they decide to act based on this information. Pessimists often behave in ways that are geared towards worst-case scenarios, while optimists tend to trust that the future will be favourable. According to past research, optimism and pessimism appear to have a particularly important effect on how individuals deal with challenging and stressful events. Even so, many people dismiss the effect of optimism, calling optimists naïve or in denial. This is because pessimism and its realistic view of the world seem appealing and rational when contrasted with the popular notion that optimism equates with foolishness, naiveté or denial; however, research shows that the way in which psychologists think of optimism does not involve forced enthusiasm or denial of the truth

What is Optimism?

Anthropologist Lionel Tiger defines optimism as “a mood or attitude associated with an expectation about the social or material future – one which the evaluator regards as socially desirable, to his [or her] advantage, or for his [or her] pleasure”. This means that optimism is a cognitive, affective and motivational construct - optimists both think and feel positively about the future.

The two ways in which researchers have operationalized optimism are the optimistic explanatory style approach, and the dispositional optimism approach

Optimistic Explanatory Style

This approach, developed by Seligman et al., is inspired by the observation that most (but not all) animals and humans give up when exposed to uncontrollable stressors and remain helpless when the situation becomes controllable. This behaviour is otherwise known as "learned helplessness." Helpless is associated with a pessimistic explanatory style; pessimists believe that negatives events are always present ("things will never change in the future"), have a global effect ("this negative event has ruined my entire life"), and is the fault of their own. Pessimists also often do not take credit for good events, attributing their occurrence to luck. Additionally, they perceive positive events as short-lived (“I just performed well today but who knows what will happen tomorrow”), and only affect one aspect of their lives (“I may be good at this but I’m otherwise pretty stupid”).

The optimistic explanatory style is therefore the opposite. Optimists do acknowledge negative events, but see them as specific (“other things are still going well”) and unstable (“things will get better soon”). They think negative events in a constructive, non-fatalistic manner and trust in their ability to deal with stressful problems.

The main instruments used to assess optimistic explanatory style are the Attributional Style Questionnaire (ASQ) and Content Analysis of Verbatim Explanations (CAVE), which ask people (through open-ended questions that are eventually coded) how events are caused. In both methods, the extent to which people think

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Seeing the glass half full: A review of the causes and consequences of optimism - Forgeard & Seligman - Article

Seeing the glass half full: A review of the causes and consequences of optimism - Forgeard & Seligman - Article


What is this article about?

Optimism as a psychological trait has gained an increasing amount of interest from scientists during the past couple of decades. Various studies have shown that optimism is related to important benefits. In this study, a review is presented that summarizes the findings from this body of research.

What are the two main ways in which researchers have defined and operationalized optimism?

Optimism is a psychological trait that influences individuals perceive themselves and their environment, how they process incoming information, and how they decide to act based on that information. Optimism concerns a cognitive, affective, and motivational aspect. Whereas optimists tend to believe that the future will be favorable, pessimists tend to believe that the future will have bad events in store for them. Both optimism and pessimism therefore act as powerful cognitive filters that alter an individuals' perception of the world and influence how the individual reacts and adapts to new situations, in particular challenging and stressful events.

In psychology, a distinction can be made between two main conceptions of optimism as described in the literature: optimistic explanatory style and dispositional optimism.

Optimistic explanatory style

The conceptualization of optimism as an exploratory style was developed by Seligman and colleagues (1991). This conceptualization was inspired by the finding that most humans (and animals) give up and become helpless when they are exposed to uncontrollable stressors. After this, they act helpless even when stressors are controllable again. This phenomenon is called learned helplessness. Individuals who display learned helplessness tend to have a pessimistic explanatory style. They believe negative events are stable and have far reaching consequences ("My life is ruined now"). Often, they blame themselves for the negative events ("It is my fault"). In addition, they commonly do not take credit for positive events ("I was just lucky"). 

Opposite to the pessimistic style is the optimistic explanatory style. This is referred to individuals who never become helpless. They believe negative events are unstable ("Things will go better soon") and specific ("Perhaps this is going less well, but other things are still going well"). Optimists, according to this perspective, acknowledge the presence of bad events, but they consider them in a constructive, non-fatalistic manner.

Dispositional optimism

The second perspective is developed by Schreier and Carver (2009). Here, optimism

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Optimism in close relationships: How seeing things in a positive light makes them so - Srivastava, McGonigal, Richards, Butler, Gross (2006) - Article

Optimism in close relationships: How seeing things in a positive light makes them so - Srivastava, McGonigal, Richards, Butler, Gross (2006) - Article

What is this article about?

The central question in this article is whether optimists and their romantic partners are more satisfied in their relationships and - if this is the case - this is due to optimists who experience greater support from their partners. It appears that couples in conflict conversations are more constructive when they are more optimistic and they solve their problems better. Optimism seems to promote a variety of beneficial processes in romantic relationships.

What are the most important concepts in this chapter?

The most important concepts in this chapter are optimism, relationship satisfaction, perceived support and close relationships.


About the effect of optimism in close relationships

What is this article about?

The central question in this article is whether optimists and their romantic partners are more satisfied in their relationships and - if this is the case - this is due to optimists who experience greater support from their partners. It appears that couples in conflict conversations are more constructive when they are more optimistic and they solve their problems better. Optimism seems to promote a variety of beneficial processes in romantic relationships.

What are the most important concepts in this chapter?

The most important concepts in this chapter are optimism, relationship satisfaction, perceived support and close relationships.

What forms social perceptions?

Social perception arises in the spirit of the person who perceives it. This can be a fact that has very real consequences for his social life. This is especially true for romantic relationships.

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The twelve elements of sustainable happiness and contentment - WorldSupporter Theme

The twelve elements of sustainable happiness and contentment - WorldSupporter Theme

Image

The twelve elements of sustainable happiness and contentment (contentions)

  • Happiness elements are those elements (conditions, values) that lead to a satisfied life, a satisfied group or a satisfied society.
  • These are elements that play a role in the degree of satisfaction you could have as a person or as a group of people (organization, family).
  • These elements
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Article summary of Very happy people by Diener & Seligman. (1)

Article summary of Very happy people by Diener & Seligman. (1)


What is this article about?

This is a research report of an experiment where 222 undergraduates were screened for high happiness. The upper 10% of consistently very happy people were compared with average people and very unhappy people. This study has tried to find out what some factor might be that influence high happiness: social relationships, personality and psychopathology, and variables that have been related to subjective well-being in correlational studies. It also examined whether there was a variable that was sufficient for happiness and a variable that was necessary for happiness (sufficient: everyone with the variable is happy, necessary: every happy person has the variable).

What were the results?

On a scale from 5 to 35, the very happy group scored about 30 on life satisfaction. The very happy people had virtually never thought about suicide, could recall many more good events in their lives than bad ones, and had many more positive than negative emotions on a daily basis. The very unhappy people were dissatisfied with life and had equal amounts of positive and negative affect on a daily basis. They reported this about themselves, but their friends and family also rated them dissatisfied. The average group was in the middle of these two groups. 

The biggest difference between the very happy group and the average and very unhappy group, was in their fulsome and satisfying interpersonal lives. The very happy people spent the least time alone and the most time socializing and valued their relationships the highest. Good social relationships might be a necessary condition for high happiness.

The very happy people also scored the lowest on psychopathology tests, virtually never in the clinical range. Almost half of the very unhappy group scored in the clinical range. 

Also good to note, was that the verry happy people never reported their mood to be "ecstatic", but they did score their mood with a 7, 8 or 9 most of the time.

Broader samples and longitudinal methods are needed to make strong conclusions from these results. These findings do suggest that very happy people have rich and satisfying social relationships and spend little time alone. But it is not yet clear what the causal relationship is here: perhaps happy people have better relationships because of their happiness, or happiness and good relationships are both caused by a third variable. What is clear is that social relationships might be a necessary but are not a sufficient condition for high happiness. Very happy people also experience unpleasant emotions and rarely feel euphoria or ecstacy. They are rather medium to moderatly happy most of the time.

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Articlesummary with Very happy people by Diener & Seligman (2)

Articlesummary with Very happy people by Diener & Seligman (2)


What is this article about?

This is a research report of an experiment where 222 undergraduates were screened for high happiness. The upper 10% of consistently very happy people were compared with average people and very unhappy people. This study has tried to find out what some factor might be that influence high happiness: social relationships, personality and psychopathology, and variables that have been related to subjective well-being in correlational studies. It also examined whether there was a variable that was sufficient for happiness and a variable that was necessary for happiness (sufficient: everyone with the variable is happy, necessary: every happy person has the variable).

What were the results?

On a scale from 5 to 35, the very happy group scored about 30 on life satisfaction. The very happy people had virtually never thought about suicide, could recall many more good events in their lives than bad ones, and had many more positive than negative emotions on a daily basis. The very unhappy people were dissatisfied with life and had equal amounts of positive and negative affect on a daily basis. They reported this about themselves, but their friends and family also rated them dissatisfied. The average group was in the middle of these two groups.

The biggest difference between the very happy group and the average and very unhappy group, was in their fulsome and satisfying interpersonal lives. The very happy people spent the least time alone and the most time socializing and valued their relationships the highest. Good social relationships might be a necessary condition for high happiness.

The very happy people also scored the lowest on psychopathology tests, virtually never in the clinical range. Almost half of the very unhappy group scored in the clinical range.

Also good to note, was that the verry happy people never reported their mood to be "ecstatic", but they did score their mood with a 7, 8 or 9 most of the time.

Broader samples and longitudinal methods are needed to make strong conclusions from these results. These findings do suggest that very happy people have rich and satisfying social relationships and spend little time alone. But it is not yet clear what the causal relationship is here: perhaps happy people have better relationships because of their happiness, or happiness and good relationships are both caused by a third variable. What is clear is that social relationships might be a necessary but are not a sufficient condition for high happiness. Very happy people also experience unpleasant emotions and rarely feel euphoria or ecstacy. They are rather medium to moderatly happy most of the time.

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Some key differences between a happy life and a meaningful life - Baumeister e.a. - Article

Some key differences between a happy life and a meaningful life - Baumeister e.a. - Article


What is this article about?

Two of the most widely held goals by which people measure and motivate themselves are happiness and a meaningful life. In this article, the relationship between these two goals is discussed. More specifically, although there certainly is (much) overlap between these two, the focus here is on the differences.

How can happiness be defined?

Happiness generally refers to a state of subjective well-being. Happiness be may narrowly or broadly focused: one can be happy to have found a lost key, but one can also be happy that the war has ended. Happiness is conceptualized and measured by researcher in at least two different manners. The first one concerns affect balance, which suggests that happiness is an aggregate of how one feels at different moment. Happiness is then defined as having more pleasant than unpleasant emotional states. The second one concerns life satisfaction, which goes beyond momentary feelings. It refers to an integrative, evaluative assessment of one's entire life. Generally, assessing both of these provides a useful index of subjective well-being.

How can a meaningful life be defined?

Meaningfulness is considered to concern both a cognitive and emotional assessment of whether one's life has purpose and value.

What is the central theorem of the theory that is being proposed in this article?

The authors suggest that the simpler form of happiness (affect balance instead of life satisfaction), at least, is rooted in nature. Every living creature has biological needs, such as wanting to survive and reproduce. Basic motivations make one to pursue and enjoy those needs. Affect balance then depends to a certain degree on whether these basic needs are being satisfied.

While happiness is natural, meaningfulness may depend on culture. In every culture language is being used as a means to use and communicate meanings. Meaningfulness, thus, makes use of culturally transmitted symbols (via language) as a means to evaluate one's life in relation to purposes, values, and other meanings that are also frequently learned from the culture. Thus, meaning is more associated with one's culture than happiness is. An important feature of meaning is that it is not limited to immediately present stimuli

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