When Do Women Talk More than Men?

-*Are women really more talkative than men, as the stereotype suggests?
-*What about women in business meetings who don’t claim as much “talk time” as male colleagues?

Kay Deaux

Kay Deaux

More than 25 years ago, NYU’s Kay Deaux and Brenda Major of University of California Santa Barbara proposed that context and expectations of the individual and others determine when females talk more than males.

Recent research validated this theory using electronic monitoring devices instead of bias-prone self-reports.

Brenda Major

Brenda Major

Harvard’s Jukka-Pekka Onnela and Sebastian Schnorf, with David Lazer of Northeastern and MIT colleagues Benjamin N. Waber and Alex Pentland provided participants with digital “sociometers” to record identities of people nearby and volume of talk during a work collaboration project, and while employees socialized at lunch.

Jukka-Pekka Onnela

Jukka-Pekka Onnela

During the work project women talked significantly more than men, except when groups included seven or more people:  Larger group size suppressed women’s verbal contributions to the project.
As well, women sat closer to other women in these groups.

Sebastian Schnorf

Sebastian Schnorf

In contrast, during social conversations, women talked the same amount as men, and even more than men when the group was large.
As a result, group size seems to affect women’s verbal participation in groups depending on the task focus vs. social focus.

Matthias Mehl

Matthias Mehl

This finding supports earlier reports of equal verbal participation by women and men.
University of Arizona’s Matthias R. Mehl, collaborating with Simine Vazire of Washington University in St. Louis, University of Connecticut’s Nairán Ramírez-Esparza, Richard B. Slatcher of Wayne State, and University of Texas’s James W. Pennebaker analyzed voice recordings from more than 390 participants, and concluded that women and men both spoke about 16,000 words per day.

David Lazer

David Lazer

Onnela’s team concluded that large group social settings seemed to enhance women’s verbal participation, in contrast to the opposite effect in collaborative work projects.
The strongest difference in gender participation related to relationship strength and group size.

Scott E. Page

Scott E. Page

These results complement findings by Loyola University’s Lu Hong and Scott E. Page, that diverse work groups produce superior solutions compared with homogenous groups – even if composed of uniformly top performers.

In fact, a group’s “general collective intelligence factor” is most closely associated with:

Anita Wooley Williams

Anita Wooley Williams

The research team, including Carnegie Mellon’s Anita Williams Woolley, Christopher F. Chabris of Union College, with MIT colleagues Alex Pentland, Nada Hashmi, and Thomas W. Malone, confirmed that this “collective intelligence factor” is not related to the average or maximum individual intelligence of group members.

Diverse groups, including women, can most effectively produce innovative solutions when all participants contribute divergent views.
Women who  consciously increase verbal participation establish visibility and professional credibility, while contributing to improved group performance.

-*How do you determine your degree of verbal contribution in work groups?

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Increase Feelings of Power by Listening to Music with Strong Bass Beat

Dennis Hsu

Dennis Hsu

Listening to music with specific emotional qualities has been associated with productivity, performance, creative problem solving, endurance, decreased pain sensitivity, and decision biases, outlined in previous blog posts.

Loran Nordgren

Loran Nordgren

Subjective power feelings are an additional outcome of listening to music with substantial bass beat, reported Northwestern University’s Dennis Y. Hsu, Loran F. Nordgren, Derek D. Rucker, Li Huang, and Columbia’s Adam D. Galinsky.

Derek D. Rucker

Derek D. Rucker

Hsu’s team found that power-inducing music produced enhanced:

  • Abstract thinking
  • Illusions of control
  • Willingness to volunteer first for a potentially stressful task.
Li Huang

Li Huang

Subjective feelings of power are important contributors to workplace performance because they associated with confidence and self-efficacy, which influence willingness to persist in accomplishing challenging tasks.

Adam Galinsky

Adam Galinsky

More than 75 volunteers listened to an original, two-minute instrumental composition with either a prominent bass line or a subdued bass element in Team Hsu’s investigation.
Participants rated their feelings of power, dominance and determination along with their sense of happiness, excitement, and enthusiasm.

Pamela K. Smith

Pamela K. Smith

People who listened to the heavy-bass music said they experienced greater feelings of power than those who listened to the more subdued variation, but the increased bass element did not affect feelings of happiness or excitement.
Those who heard the composition with prominent bass elements also produced more power-related terms in a word-completion test.

Daniël Wigboldus

Daniël Wigboldus

Likewise, those who heard familiar “high-power music” such as Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” volunteered to be the first participants in a debate competition and scored higher on a test measuring abstract thinking, compared with people who listened to widely-known “low-power music” like “Who Let the Dogs Out?”

Ap Dijksterhuis

Ap Dijksterhuis

Feeling powerful is more important than actually possessing power in achieving superior performance, confirmed by University of California San Diego’s Pamela K. Smith with Daniël H.J. Wigboldus of Radboud University Nijmegen, and University of Amsterdam’s Ap Dijksterhuisc.
They reported this well-validated finding and expanded Smith’s previous report, with NYU’s Yaacov Trope, that people’s subjective sense of power is partly determined by individual information processing style.

Yaacov Trope

Yaacov Trope

Smith’s team found that people who demonstrated abstract thought reported greater sense of power, greater preference for high-power roles, and more feelings of control over the environment, compared with people who were primed to use concrete thinking.

Subjective feelings of power can be enhanced by listening to music with a prominent bass element, in addition to writing “power primes” and assuming expansive body postures.

-*How do you increase your personal experience of power?

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“Default Mode Network”, Positive Mood Increase Creative Problem Solving

Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud

“Aimless engagement” in an activity can enable a non-linear, integrative “free association” of ideas leading to creative breakthroughs, confirmed Drexel University’s John Kounios.

Graham Wallas

Graham Wallas

Many people recognize this experience of creative “incubation” while performing routine, well-rehearsed tasks, though they may not be aware that nearly 90 years ago, Graham Wallas of London School of Economics proposed this phenomenon one of four stages in the creativity process.

Michael D Greicius

Michael D Greicius

The brain’s posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) and ventral anterior cingulate cortex (vACC) operate as a “default mode network” during this type of relaxed engagement, found Stanford’s Michael D. Greicius, Ben Krasnow, Allan L. Reiss, and Vinod Menon.

Rebecca Koppel

Rebecca Koppel

During free-flowing ideation, these brain regions “untether” thoughts from usual associational “mental ruts” to commingle in original ways.
Fixation forgetting” enables this innovative recombination of thoughts to develop innovative solutions, according to University of Illinois’s Rebecca Koppel and Benjamin C. Storm of University of California Santa Cruz.

Mark Beeman

Mark Beeman

Creative problem solving through insight also involves the right hemisphere’s anterior superior temporal gyrus (aSTG), an area associated with recognizing broad associative semantic relationships, reported Kounios and colleagues at Northwestern, Mark Beeman, Edward M Bowden, Jason Haberman, Stella Arambel-Liu, and Paul J Reber, collaborating with Kounios and Jennifer L Frymiare, also of Drexel, and Source Signal Imaging’s Richard Greenblatt.

John Kounios

John Kounios

They concluded that creative problem solving requires the ability to encode, retrieve, and evaluate information.
When insight is involved, integration of distantly related information is also needed.

Ruby Nadler

Ruby Nadler

In addition to these skills, University of Western Ontario’s Ruby T. Nadler, Rahel Rabi and John Paul Minda found that cognitive flexibility for problem-solving activates the prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex, areas important in creative hypothesis-testing and rule-selection.
Additionally, they confirmed that creative solutions can be enabled by eliciting a positive mood.

Rahel Rabi

Rahel Rabi

The team induced positive, neutral, and negative moods using music clips and video clips, and asked volunteers to classify pictures with visually complex patterns.
People in the positive-mood condition showed better classification learning than those with induced neutral or negative moods, suggesting that upbeat music effectively enhanced creative thinking while boosting innovators’ mood.

John Paul Minda

John Paul Minda

Somewhat surprisingly, capturing ideas through handwriting or typing can attenuate innovation because recording requires a shift to a more linear organization of thoughts, posited Kounios.

-*How can you capture creative solutions while maintaining innovative momentum?

-*How can you prevent “fixation forgetting” from interfering with accessing information required for creative work?

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“High-Commitment” Workplaces Enhance Creative Problem Solving, Innovation

Organizations recognize the importance of continuous innovation to grow revenues, and often turn to human resources programs to ensure that employees produce their most creative work.

Richard E. Walton

Richard E. Walton

As a result, many organizations have experimented with “high-commitment work systems (HCWS)” described by Harvard’s Richard E. Walton, as a “lever” to exert greater control over employee productivity, retention, and innovation.

Typically, high-commitment employee benefits are intended to demonstrate the organization’s commitment to the employee to elicit reciprocal commitment and intrinsic motivation to support the organization’s objectives.
These programs may include:

  • Employee participation programs
  • Team rewards
  • Profit sharing
  • Extensive training
  • Opportunities to transfer and advance to higher organizational levels in preference to external candidates
  • Employment ”security.”
Song Chang

Song Chang

Organizations with “high-commitment” employee programs, measured by High Commitment Work System Scale, had highly innovative and creative employees when they worked with cohesive teams on complex tasks in a study of more than 50 technology firms in China by Song Chang of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, with Nanjing University’s Liangding Jia and Yahua Cai, and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s Riki Takeuchi.

Zhixing Xiao

Zhixing Xiao

“High-commitment work systems (HCWS)” can occur in organizations with very different approaches to human capital management, described by China Europe International Business School’s Zhixing Xiao and Anne S. Tsui of Arizona State University:

  • Anne Tsui

    Anne Tsui

    Mutual-investment (or organization-focused) strategies combine:
    -Specified, closed economic exchanges with
    -Unspecified, open-ended social exchanges that include implied trust and reciprocity leading to expectations of employment security

David Walsh

David Walsh

Although this job-focused approach to human capital management does not imply trust or reciprocity, many quasi spot-contract employers offer extensive employee benefits similar to those in “high-commitment” workplaces.

Joshua Schwartz

Joshua Schwartz

This contrast between the employer’s implied commitment to employees with “high-commitment” benefits but low commitment in “at-will employment” policies may appear incongruous to employees.
The result may be confusion, cynicism or disengagement.

David Walsh-Joshua Schwartz At Will Exceptions MapDespite these contrasting theories of employee relations, “high-commitment” benefit programs can enable “creative situations,” described by Harvard’s Teresa Amabile, in which individual motivation can contribute to commercial innovation.

Teresa Amabile

Teresa Amabile

She noted that organizations that establish productive “creative work situations” typically offer some, but not all of the “high-commitment” employee programs:

  • Job rotation
  • Extensive training to increase subject matter expertise
  • Job autonomy
  • Working in teams to solve problems and produce work products
  • Participative management.

Despite not guaranteeing employment tenure, these programs were associated with:

  • Egalitarian culture
  • High trust
  • Support for disrupting status quo.

Song Chang 2Workplace environment-shaping through “high-commitment” employee programs can lead to increased innovation and related commercial opportunities.

However, organizations that adhere to both at-will employment practices and offer “high-commitment” benefits can benefit from clearly communicating the limits of their commitments to avoid adverse employee reactions.

-*What are most effective ways to balance and integrate coexisting at-will employment policies with “high-commitment work systems”?

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Leader Self-Efficacy Beliefs Determine Impact of Challenging Work Assignments

Stephen Courtright

Stephen Courtright

“High potential” employees are often given “stretch assignments” to expand their organizational knowledge, skills, and contacts.

Amy Colbert

Amy Colbert

The individual’s “leadership self-efficacy (LSE)” expectations about personal capability to master the challenge and deliver “successful” outcomes determine the actual results, reported Texas A&M’s Stephen H. Courtright, Amy E. Colbert of University of Iowa, and Daejeong Choi of University of Melbourne in their four month study of more than 150 managers and 600 directors at a Fortune 500 financial services company.

Daejeong Choi

Daejeong Choi

Individuals develop self efficacy, according to Stanford’s Albert Bandura, in response to individuals’:

  • Personal accomplishments and mastery
  • Observing others’ behaviors, experiences, and outcomes
  •  Corrective feedback from others via coaching and mentoring
  • Mood and physiological factors
Albert Bandura

Albert Bandura

Bandura posited that people’s expectations about their personal efficacy determines whether they:

  • Use coping behavior when encountering difficulties
  • Apply exceptional effort in meeting challenges
  • Persist for long periods when encountering difficult experiences and obstacles

These behaviors lead to the “virtuous cycle” of increased self-efficacy beliefs and expectations.

Laura Paglis Dwyer

Laura Paglis Dwyer

A measure of leadership self-efficacy (LSE), developed by University of Evansville’s Laura L. Paglis Dwyer and Stephen G. Green of Purdue University, evaluates a leader’s skill in:

  • Direction-setting
  • Gaining followers’ commitment
  • Overcoming obstacles to change
Sean Hanna

Sean Hanna

Two additional Leader Self Efficacy characteristics were proposed by United States Military Academy’s Sean T. Hannah with Bruce Avolio, Fred Luthans, and Peter D. Harms of University of Nebraska:

  • “Agency,” characterized by intentionally initiating action and exerting positive influence
  • Confidence
Jesus Tanguma

Jesus Tanguma

Women generally demonstrated significantly lower leadership self-efficacy beliefs than men in research by University of Houston’s Michael J. McCormick
, Jesús Tanguma
, and Anita Sohn López-Forment, and a related post reviews women’s lag in expressions of “confidence,” with consequences for women’s representation in executive leadership roles.

However, Bandura found that these beliefs can be modified with intentional interventions like training, coaching, mentoring and cognitive restructuring practice, and the proliferation of these offerings for women provides these opportunities to enhance confidence and positive expectancy.

Courtright’s team reinforced popular understanding that beliefs both result from previous experiences, and can determine future outcomes, suggesting the importance of monitoring and managing these guiding ideas.

-*How do you maintain robust Leadership Self-Efficacy expectations even after disappointments and setbacks?

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“Surface Acting” At Work Leads to Stress Spillover

David Wagner

David Wagner

Employers, employees, and benefits providers recognize that experiences at work can affect employees’ quality of life outside of work, leading to increasing availability of work-life programs including Employee Assistance Programs, on-site medical centers, concierges, meals, and fitness centers in the US.

Christopher Barnes

Christopher Barnes

When employees mask their true feelings in work situations, they may engage in “surface acting” — or displaying appropriate, but unfelt facial expressions, verbal interactions, and body language.

Brent Scott

Brent Scott

Surface acting at work was associated with emotional exhaustion, work-to-family conflict, and insomnia outside of work for more than 70 volunteers in a high stress public service occupation, according to Singapore Management University’s David T. Wagner, Christopher M. Barnes of University of Washington and Brent A. Scott of Michigan State University.

Arlie Hochschild

Arlie Hochschild

Emotional labor” is Arlie Hochshild’s earlier term for “surface acting” in customer service interactions, in which employees present prescribed verbalizations and emotions, even when they are not genuinely felt.

She contrasted “surface acting” with “deep acting” in which the person:

  • Exhibits the emotion actually felt
  • Uses past emotional experiences to elicit real emotion and empathic connection with others, in a form of “organizational method acting.
Christina Maslach

Christina Maslach

Surface acting can lead to occupational “burnout,” characterized by emotional exhaustion and detachment from others and reduced workplace performance, noted University of California Berkeley’s Christina Maslach and Susan Jackson.

Céleste Brotheridge

Céleste Brotheridge

In contrast, high emotional labor via deep acting has been associated with a greater sense of personal accomplishment in research by University of Regina’s Celeste Brotheridge and Alicia Grandey of Penn State.

Veikko Surakka

Veikko Surakka

Recipients of “surface acting” are usually adept at detecting that it’s an inauthentic display, according to University of Tampere Veikko Surakka and Jari K Hietanen of University of Helsinki.

Patricia Hewlin

Patricia Hewlin

Related experiences can also take a toll, resulting in generalized stress and reduced quality of life outside of work, according to Georgetown’s Patricia Hewlin as well as to University of Lethbridge’s Karen H. Hunter, Andrew A. Luchak of University of Alberta and Athabasca University’s Kay Devine.

They identified stress-inducing behaviors including:

Kay Devine

Kay Devine

  • Impression management, characterized by ingratiating behaviors in two-person relationships.
    Terence Mitchell

    Terence Mitchell

    In the workplace, these can influence career outcomes, according to Georgia Tech’s Robert C. Liden and Terence R. Mitchell of University of Washington

Leon Festinger

Leon Festinger

Even people not performing customer-facing roles may encounter situations in which they must behave in “appropriate” ways inconsistent with their true feelings, and experience similar stress spillover from “surface acting” at work.

-*How do you prevent “burnout” when workplace settings seem to require “surface acting”?

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Ask a Narcissist

Confidence is correlated with career effectiveness and advancement.
However when people exhibit “too much of a good thing,” their behavior may seem “narcissistic.”

Jean Twenge

Jean Twenge

The narcissistic personality is characterized by:

-*How do you determine if someone is a narcissist?

Calvin S Hall

Calvin S Hall

One of the most frequently-used, well-validated assessment instruments is the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, developed by University of California Berkeley’s Robert Raskin and Calvin S. Hall, and used by researchers rather than by pre-employment screeners.

Sara Konrath

Sara Konrath

Raskin and UC Berkeley colleague, Howard Terry examined more than 1000 volunteers’ responses found seven constructs related to narcissism:

  • Authority
  • Exhibitionism
  • Superiority
  • Vanity
  • Exploitativeness
  • Entitlement
  • Self-Sufficiency, all based on observations and self-reports of 57 participants as well as 128 people’s descriptions of “self” and “ideal self.”
Timothy Leary

Timothy Leary

In addition, Raskin and Terry related these ratings to participants’ responses to the Leary Interpersonal Check List, developed by Harvard’s Timothy Leary more than 50 years ago – and before he advocated use of psychedelic drugs.

Though a valid and reliable measure of grandiose or overt aspects of narcissism, the NPI’s 40 forced-choice items is lengthy and time-consuming.

Brian P Meier

Brian P Meier

As an alternative, University of Michigan’s Sara Konrath, with Brian P. Meier of Gettysburg College and Ohio State’s Brad J. Bushman of Indiana University developed The Single Item Narcissism Scale (SINS) to measure grandiosity, entitlement, and low empathy characteristic of “narcissistic” behavior.

They used a question that anyone can pose: To what extent do you agree with this statement? “I am a narcissist.”
More than 2,200 participants answered on a scale of one to seven.

Brad J Bushman

Brad J Bushman

Konrath’s team demonstrated SINS’s value as a valid and reliable alternative to longer narcissism scales, because the SINS is significantly correlated with scores on the NPI, and uncorrelated with social desirability.
In addition Konrath and team provided a quick assessment tool for anyone puzzled by colleagues’ or friends’ behavior.

Erika Carlson

Erika Carlson

They found that people who score high on both the NPI and the SINS are generally unconcerned about what others think of them – “social desirability” – and are typically willing to admit what they know about themselves:  They act more arrogant, condescending, argumentative, critical, and prone to bragging than people who score low on the NPI, according to findings by University of Toronto’s Erika Carlson.

Team Konrath conducted 11 validation studies for the SINS, and found narcissism related to:

People who scored high for narcissism also showed behaviors that can be problematic at work:

However, they also showed positive attributes including:

If you think you’re working with a narcissist, you can confirm or disconfirm your inference by asking the person.
Interacting with a narcissist in the workplace can be challenging, and a previous blog post identifies recommended strategies.

-*How do you identify narcissists in the workplace and in personal life?
-*What are more effective ways to work with them?

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