Motivation

May 262011
 

A golfer concentrates on a putt -  self talk can helpCarefully designed self talk can make a big positive difference in sport, new research says. But our internal dialogue  can be corrosive when it’s negative, too. How do you go from one to the other? That’s the question that has been challenging Greek sports psychologist Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis since he was a school boy. 

 Even then, he could see that his mind had a big effect on his body. From his early unhappy experiences evolved Hatzigeorgiadis’ interest in the psychology of sport – the link between one’s thoughts and performance, and specifically in “self-talk”— the mental strategy that aims to improve performance through the use of self-addressed cues (words or small phrases), which trigger appropriate responses and action, mostly by focusing attention and psyching-up.

“We know this strategy works, and it works in sports,” says Hatzigeorgiadis. But what makes it work better, and in what situations? To find out, Hatzigeorgiadi conducted a meta-analysis of 32 sport psychological studies on the subject with a total of 62 measured effects.

As expected, the analysis revealed that self-talk improves sport performance. But the researchers teased out more – different self-talk cues work differently in different situations. For tasks requiring fine skills or for improving technique “instructional self-talk”, such as a technical instruction (“elbow-up” which Hatzigeorgiadis coaches beginner freestyle swimmers to say) is more effective than ‘motivational self-talk’ (e.g., “give it all”), which seems to be more effective in tasks requiring strength or endurance, boosting confidence and psyching-up for competition.

Dec 242010
 

 ‘Because you’re worth it!’ L’Oreal’s catchphrase taps into the narcissistic zeitgeist. But it also begs the question: "Are we at risk of becoming obsessed with feeling good about ourselves?" Christian Jarrett reports for the British Psychological Society. According to new research by Brad Bushman and his co-workers, not only do US college students have higher self-esteem than previous generations, they now value self-esteem boosts more than sex, food, receiving a salary payment, seeing a friend or having an alcoholic drink.

Bushman’s team made their finding by asking dozens of US college students to imagine their favourite food, sexual activity, self-esteem boosting activity (e.g. receiving a compliment, getting a good grade) etc, and in each case to say how much they wanted it and how much they liked it. The key finding was that self-esteem boosting activities came out on top.

Why do people behave badly? Maybe it’s just too easy

 Why do people behave badly? Maybe it’s just too easy  Motivation  Comments Off on Why do people behave badly? Maybe it’s just too easy
Nov 242010
 

 People will cheat if it's not too hard to doMany people say they wouldn’t cheat on a test, lie on a job application or refuse to help a person in need.

But what if the test answers fell into your lap and cheating didn’t require any work on your part? If you didn’t have to face the person who needed your help and refuse them? Would that change your behaviour?

New research out of the University of Toronto Scarborough shows it might. In two studies that tested participants’ willingness to behave immorally, the UTSC team discovered people will behave badly – if it doesn’t involve too much work on their part.

"People are more likely to cheat and make immoral decisions when their transgressions don’t involve an explicit action," says Rimma Teper, PhD student and lead author on the study, published online now in Social Psychological and Personality Science. "If they can lie by omission, cheat without doing much legwork, or bypass a person’s request for help without expressly denying them, they are much more likely to do so."

Nov 182010
 

Challenging the idea that women’s sexual motivations are tied exclusively to romantic emotions or reproduction, a new study by psychologists at The University of Texas at Austin found women’s sexual decisions are motivated by a shocking array of reasons that range from the mundane ("I was bored") to a sense of adventure ("I wanted to know what it was like before getting married"), and from the altruistic ("I felt sorry for him") to the borderline evil ("I wanted to give him a sexually transmitted disease").

 
"Understanding why women have sex is extremely important, but rarely studied," said David M. Buss, evolutionary psychology professor. "One thing that’s interesting about our study is that it goes against the stereotype that men desire sex for pleasure while women have sex only for love or commitment."
 
Detailed in their new book "Why Women Have Sex: Understanding Sexual Motivations from Adventure to Revenge (and Everything in Between)," Buss and Cindy M. Meston, clinical psychology professor, collected personal accounts from more than 1,000 women of diverse educational, ethnic and religious backgrounds on their reasons for having sex.
Nov 182010
 

Dire or emotionally charged warnings about the consequences of global warming can backfire if presented too negatively, making people less amenable to reducing their carbon footprint, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley.

 
"Our study indicates that the potentially devastating consequences of global warming threaten people’s fundamental tendency to see the world as safe, stable and fair. As a result, people may respond by discounting evidence for global warming," said Robb Willer, UC Berkeley social psychologist and coauthor of a study to be published in the January issue of the journal Psychological Science. 
 
"The scarier the message, the more people who are committed to viewing the world as fundamentally stable and fair are motivated to deny it," agreed Matthew Feinberg, a doctoral student in psychology and coauthor of the study. But if scientists and advocates can communicate their findings in less apocalyptic ways, and present solutions to global warming, Willer said, most people can get past their skepticism.
Oct 252010
 

Temptation - perhaps our inner voice helps us avoid it.Talking to yourself might not be a bad thing, especially when it comes to exercising self control. New research  shows that using your inner voice plays an important role in controlling impulsive behaviour.

"We give ourselves messages all the time with the intent of controlling ourselves – whether that’s telling ourselves to keep running when we’re tired, to stop eating even though we want one more slice of cake, or to refrain from blowing up on someone in an argument," says Alexa Tullett, PhD Candidate and lead author on the study from the University of Toronto Scarborough and published in this month’s edition of Acta Psychologica. "We wanted to find out whether talking to ourselves in this ‘inner voice’ actually helps."

Thoughts About Time Inspire People to Socialize

 Thoughts About Time Inspire People to Socialize  Motivation  Comments Off on Thoughts About Time Inspire People to Socialize
Oct 082010
 

Does thinking about time or money make you happier? A new study finds that people who are made to think about time plan to spend more of their time with the people in their lives while people who think about money fill their schedules with work, work, and—you guessed it—more work. 

To find out how thinking about time or money makes people feel, Cassie Mogilner of the University of Pennsylvania designed an experiment, carried out online with adults from all over the United States, in which they concentrated on money or time. In this experiment, volunteers were asked to unscramble a series of sentences. Some participants were presented with sentences containing words related to time (e.g., “clock” and “day”), whereas others’ sentences contained words related to money (e.g., “wealth” and “dollar”). Next all participants were asked how they planned to spend their next 24 hours. The ones who had been primed to think about time planned to spend more time socializing. People who’d been primed to think about money planned to spend more time working. 

Sep 012010
 

ImageSeven-year-old children only need to interact with a person once to learn who to trust and seek information from, according to a study by Queen’s University researchers.

"It shows that kids really pay attention to people’s accuracy and they don’t forget it, even after interacting with that person one time," says psychology professor Stanka Fitneva, who conducted the study with graduate student Kristen Dunfield.

The study tested adults, seven-year-olds and four-years-olds by asking a question and then having two people on a computer screen give a right and wrong answer.

When a second question was asked and participants were told they could only ask one person for the answer, the adults and seven year olds always choose to ask the person who previously gave the right answer.

Freeze or run? Our responses to fear.

 Freeze or run? Our responses to fear.  Cognition, Motivation, Psyche  Comments Off on Freeze or run? Our responses to fear.
Aug 302010
 

ImageFear can make you run, it can make you fight, and it can glue you to the spot.

Scientists have identified not only the part of the brain but the specific type of neurons that determine how mice react to a frightening stimulus. In a study published in Neuron, they combined pharmaceutical and genetic approaches with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in mice.

Their findings show that deciding whether or not to freeze to fear is a more complex task for our brains than we realised. The scientists used an innovative technique to control the activity of specific cells in the brain of mice that were experiencing fear. The mice were genetically engineered so that only these cells contain a chemical receptor for a specific drug. When the scientists inject the mouse with that drug it acts on the receptor and blocks the electrical activity of those cells allowing the researchers to find out how these cells are involved in controlling fear.

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