Wednesday June 19, 2013
When you want to get someone to do something, such as wanting a child to complete his or her homework, what is the best way to motivate them? Many people might start by offering some type of reward such as a special treat or toy. This is a great example of what is known in psychology as extrinsic motivation, since the behavior is motivated by a desire to gain an external reward. Unlike intrinsic motivation, which arises from within the individual, extrinsic motivation is focused purely on outside rewards.
Extrinsic motivation can be very effective in many situations, but some researchers suggest that it is not always the best choice. In one classic study, kids who were already intrinsically motivated to play with a particular toy were then extrinsically rewarded for playing with that particular toy. What the researchers found was that after being rewarded, the kids then became less inclined to play with the toy in the future. Why? In some cases, giving excessive reinforcement for things that we already find internally rewarding can interfere with the motivation to engage in the behavior.
Of course, that doesn't mean that extrinsic motivation is a bad thing. Experts suggest that it can be particularly effective in situations where people simply have no intrinsic desire to engage in a behavior. It can also be used to help people learn new skills and gain an interest in an object or activity.
Learn more about the psychology behind extrinsic motivation.
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Monday June 17, 2013
My younger sister and I are both trying to lose ten pounds and, unfortunately, we are both struggling. The formula for weight loss seems so simple (take in fewer calories than you burn), so then why do so many of us spend years battling the scales. My sister likes to call it the "I feel fat, so I'll comfort myself by having a cookie!" syndrome, or what is more commonly known as emotional eating. Eating when we are sad, bored, upset, or angry is all too common, but why do so many of turn to food in response to emotional upheaval?
According to Mary E. Pritchard, professor of psychology at Boise State University, we do so because eating has become our primary coping strategy. Not only do people often eat when they are trying to avoid dealing with stress, they also eat simply to make themselves feel better.
So what can we do to break this vicious cycle?
Pritchard suggests a number of things that you can do to put an end to emotional eating, including changing your ideas about food, putting an end to obsessing about food and weight, and finding new outlets to turn to when dealing with stress.
Do you struggle with emotional eating? Be sure to check out the following information, resources, and advice that might help:
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Friday June 14, 2013
Definition: Drive-reduction theory is an explanation for motivation that focuses on maintaining homeostasis, or a sense of equilibrium. This theory was developed by psychologist Clark Hull and suggests that imbalances, such as being over- or under-aroused, create needs. As a result, we experience drives to fulfill these needs in order to return to a state of balance. Examples include thirst and hunger. Since these states are unpleasant, we seek to satisfy the drive by fulfilling the need. In other words, when we are thirsty, we drink; when we are hungry, we eat.
Hull also believed that reducing these drives serves to reinforce the behavior. As a result, we are more likely to engage in the behavior again in the future.
Learn more about drive-reduction theory.
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Wednesday June 12, 2013
Interested in job advancement? A new study by researchers from Brigham Young University suggests that passion is the key. The study, appearing in the journal Organizational Science, found that employees who were "true believers" in their company's mission, product, or service were more likely to advance in the workplace than were those who lacked this passionate belief.
The study involved surveying a number of employees who worked at companies that have what are known as 'mission-based cultures.' "Many organizations today have a well-defined mission with enduring principles that matter, not only to employees, but to other stakeholders," explains John Bingham, Ph.D., BYU professor of organizational leadership and strategy.
Why is true-belief linked to career advancement? The researchers suggest that those who are seen as strong believers in the company's cause tend to be viewed by others as leaders and become more influential within the organization. The study's authors note that while having a mission-based business is a great way to recruit and retain top employees, managers need to be genuinely dedicated to the cause. "If top management doesn't believe it or is simply using it as a ploy, it doesn't work," Bingham suggests.
Learn more: "Want to move up at work? Be a true believer" - BYU News
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