Tag Archives: Thinking

Cognition

Cooperative Instinct, Reflective Self-Interest

David Rand

Harvard scientists, led by postdoctoral researcher David Rand found that volunteers who were asked to contribute to the greater good at their own expense at first tended toward generous and cooperative behavior, but upon reflection, they chose self-interest.
Evolutionary biologist Martin Nowak and psychology professor Joshua Greene collaborated with Rand in the study published in Nature .

Martin Nowak

Rand, Nowak, and Greene gave money to volunteers for use in games where they could earn more, depending on choices about cooperating with others.

The team found that people acted most generously when they made immediate decisions about how much to contribute, or were asked to report a time when their intuitions and emotions guided them to a good decision.

When volunteers took more time to consider decisions, or were asked to remember a time they benefitted because rational thinking or when an emotional response led them to an adverse decision, they contributed less to the common pool of money.

Joshua Greene

In one situation, four participants were given 40 cents each and told that they could contribute as much money as desired to the common pool, which would be doubled and then divided equally among the four people.

People decided most quickly on their contribution strategy were more willing to contribute than those who considered the choice for more than 10 seconds.

When researchers forced some volunteers to decide a strategy rapidly and others to wait at least 10 seconds before deciding, they again observed that those who decided most quickly contributed most.

Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel laureate and author of the book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, which examines the two cognitive systems and the role they play in decision-making.

The researchers suggest that people’s intuitive responses are associated with what they have learned to benefit them, through experiences in various situations.

They asked participants if their everyday interactions with others were typically cooperative or uncooperative.
Those who reported having mainly cooperative interactions made quick decisions to contribute more and gave less when they had more time to ponder the scenario.
In contrast, those who reported uncooperative interactions in daily life gave the same amount when they made fast vs more deliberate decisions.

These studies could suggest policies or incentives to encourage desired behavior.
One complication that researchers consider is that a monetary reward or a fine is introduced, people may begin to ignore their first response and weigh the costs and benefits.
This delay can lead to people acting more in self-interest, and less for the common good.

An example of this paradox is seen in a study of Israeli day care programs.
Monetary fines were levied when parents picked up their children late, and the number of parents who arrived late increased rather than decreased.

This finding is consistent with punishment’s lower efficacy in motivating behavior.

-*In which work situations do you favor cooperation with colleagues?
-*When do you find that “enlightened self-interest” is the more prudent approach at work?

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Video Games as Cognitive Enhancers

Adam Gazzaley

Neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley of UCSF presents convincing data to suggest that video games can improve cognitive functioning in people of all ages, due to increasing performance based on training and generalization of learning in three limiting areas of:

• Processing speed
• Attention
• Working memory

Training in one skill has been shown in previous research not to generalize to other skills, so Gazzaley’s lab investigated whether training with video games can generalize to improve the brain’s three limitations (above).

His recent work has confirmed this trend, and next studies are intended to monitor generalizability to Activities of Daily Living such as shopping and finding directions.

Training may be strategic, to instruct in “tips” to manage challenging situations, as in occupational therapy or physical therapy or plasticity-based, using repetition, feedback, adaptive adjustment of difficulty based on performance.

Medal of Honor, a first person shooter game, proved more effective than Tetris or crossword puzzles in counteracting the brain’s three limitations (above).

Most effective games are:
• Fast-paced
• Unpredictable
• Engaging, immersive
• Provide feedback
• Adjust difficulty based on performance
• Provide changes to the brain’s three limitations: working memory, attention, processing speed via interference

Cliff Nass

Mastering interference is important because research in Gazzaley’s lab as well as work by Cliff Nass of Stanford, and Daphne Bavelier, University of Rochester, confirm that attention can be impaired by internal intrusions (mind-wandering), intentional multi-tasking (for fun, diversion) or external interference through distraction or interruption (semi-intentional multi-tasking).

Distraction and interruption reduce cognitive performance when people try to multi-task.
These researchers conclude that “multi-tasking is a myth” because “task-switching” occurs instead of simultaneous processing.
They note that task-switching (also important in driving skills) becomes slower with age, but can be improved through training on video games like Neuroracer.

Daphne Bavelier

Bavelier demonstrated that video gamers show improved skills in visual perception (contrast sensitivity, resolve small detail in context of clutter, resolve different levels of threat), attention (retain focus, less distractable).
In addition, these skills can generalize to improvements in other “real-world skills” like spatial cognition.

Skilled gamers’ have efficient neural firings and in different areas of the brain than in less adept individuals, similar to a trend seen among musicians vs non-musicians.
fMRI studies have demonstrated that gamers’ brain structures actually change in brain networks that control attention:

• Parietal cortex – orienting attention
• Frontal lobe – maintaining attention
• Anterior cingulate –allocate, regulate attention, resolve conflicts
Your brains on action games

Games may be recommended for people of all ages to enhance cognition as further research findings add to these trends in the next decade.

Videogames as cognitive neurotherapeutics
Brain – Memory and Multitasking
Exercising Your Brain
Memory and the Aging Brain
The Distracted Mind

-*How have you used game-based training to strengthen your brain functioning?
-*How effective is multi-tasking in your work organization?

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Developing a SMARTER Mindset for Resilience, Emotional Intelligence – Part 2

Carol Dweck

Stanford professor Carol Dweck distilled Salvador Maddi’s three mindsets into two mindsets in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

She differentiated:
• Fixed Mindset – Belief that personal capabilities are given, fixed, limited to present capacities.
This “nature” mindset can lead to fear, anxiety, protectiveness and guardedness.
• Growth Mindset– Belief that personal capabilities can expand based on commitment, effort, practice, instruction, confronting and correcting mistakes. This “nurture” mindset enables teamwork and collaboration.

K. Anders Ericcson

K. Anders Ericcson

Research by K. Anders Ericsson demonstrated that highly skilled experts in nearly every field are distinguished from their talented peers by practice.
Similarly, Malcolm Gladwell asserted that expert performance comes after 10,000 hours of practice.

The Road to Excellence: The Acquisition of Expert Performance in the Arts and Sciences, Sports, and Games

Expert Performance in Sports: Advances in Research on Sport Expertise

Although mindsets consist of relatively stable beliefs, they can be modified by reinforcing, praising, and rewarding performance strategy and process, not the resulting outcome.

Cynthia Kivland

Cynthia Kivland

Cynthia Kivland introduced a practice of “vetting emotions” using a three step process to investigate and manage emotions

• Validate – Name the emotion
• Explore – What is the broader context?
What are the familiar reaction patterns?
• Tolerate – Transform limiting emotions into information and intelligence to move forward

“Cognitive appraisal” refers to evaluative elements of thoughts, and can provoke emotions.
This type of appraisal is based on three factors, outlined by eminent researcher

Martin Seligman

Martin Seligman

Martin Seligman in his book, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life

• Personalization of cause, responsibility: Internal control vs External control
• Pervasiveness of event and impact: Specific vs Global
• Permanence of event and impact: Temporary vs. Continuing

Kivland suggested that mindsets and related attitudes can direct individuals to either of two paths:

• Surviving Path, based on reactive, fearful protecting from anticipated danger

• Hope Path, proactive, thriving, growing, able to let go of fears, observe emotions as information for decision-making rather than as unpleasant experiences to be tolerated

Kivland, Dweck, Maddi, Ericcson, Seligman, and other advocates of Emotional Intelligence practices suggest benefits of the Hope Path.

Dweck model and the mindset of positive psychology

Dweck’s Brainology software for students

Related Post:
Developing a SMARTER Mindset to increase Resilience, Emotional Intelligence – Part 1

-*What “mindsets” help you achieve optimal performance in work and life activities?

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Developing a SMARTER Mindset to increase Resilience, Emotional Intelligence – Part 1

Cynthia Kivland

Cynthia Kivland

Cynthia Kivland, author of Smart2Smarter: How Emotional and Social Connections Bring Humanity into the Workplace: Seven Skills Every Smart Person Needs, reviewed research-based models that suggest ways to increase resilient attitudes and behaviors.

Her “Smart to SMARTER” model is based on interviews with “smart and competent” people in a variety of fields.
Kivland developed a mnemonic device highlight important elements of Emotionally Intelligent or “Emotionally Smart” people:

S – Self – Optimize strengths via self-efficacy
M – Mastery of emotions
A – Attraction – Positive energy, optimism, confidence to attract the best to self, others
R – Resilience – Adapt, reinvent oneself to overcome setbacks
T – Tolerance of emotional experience, changing circumstances, diverse people and beliefs
E – Evolve – Innovate, improve new ways to manage emotions, reactions, behaviors
R – Reciprocity – Lead, be lead; teach, be taught, give, receive

She noted that positive psychology research demonstrated that positive emotions help people endure and grow from life’s changes and adversities.

To help cultivate positive emotions, she suggests three practices:
• Emotional engagement
Schedule fun, enjoyable experiences and opportunities for positive emotions
• Emotional responsiveness
Be present, attentive, and engaged during pleasant moments
• Emotional savoring
“Evolve” by intentionally enjoying positive moments and emotions of joy, contentment, satisfaction, and carrying positive memories into future situations

Salvatore Maddi

“Mindsets” consist of attitudes that can facilitate or impede executing these three recommendations, based on early workplace research by Salvatore Maddi, who studied people affected by organizational change.

He distilled effective coping skills he observed among affected employees as three “Emotional Hardiness” Mindsets:

Commitment vs Alienation – Active involvement with people, life events
Control vs. Powerlessness – Persistence in trying to improve life situations
Challenge vs Threat – Viewing change as an opportunity to learn, adapt, and craft a fulfilling life

In addition, Maddi found that these employees demonstrated two Emotional Resilience Skills:
• Community vs. Isolation – Engaging with others to mobilize social support, feedback
• Proactive Coping (Thriving) vs Reactive Coping (Surviving) – View adversity in context to deepen awareness

Kivland’s Resilience tools

See Part 2 of this post

-*What practices and “mindsets” help you cultivate “emotional hardiness” in your work activities?

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Career Resilience in Managing Job Loss, Unexpected Changes

Mary Lynn Pulley

Mary Lynn Pulley

Mary Lynn Pulley, a Center for Creative Leadership adjunct faculty member and author of Losing Your Job – Reclaiming Your Soul: Stories of Resilience, Renewal, and Hope, shares practical recommendations to respond to change or hardship:

Resilience enables people to recover from adversity and is characterized by some of the same attributes as Emotional Intelligence:

• Flexibility
• Durability
• Optimism
• Openness to learning.

The flipside of resilience is burnout, fatigue, malaise, depression, defensiveness and cynicism.

Pulley asserts that resilience can be developed by modifying thoughts to broaden personal outlook and adapt to change.
The second step is modifying actions based on modified attitudes, beliefs, and concepts.

She suggests developing resilience by:

Embracing continuous learning
• Learn and apply new skills to more adapt more quickly during changes
Finding purpose
• Develop a “personal why” to provide meaning and context to work
• Take responsibility to direct your personal and career development
• Separate who your self-definition and core identity from your work tasks and job title. “Who you are is not just what you do.”

Cultivating relationships
• Maintain personal and professional relationships for support and feedback, to develop perspective, achieve goals, deal with hardships

Questioning and modifying self-definition and career
• Reassess awareness of personal skills, talents and interests, and personal narrative
• Consider new work opportunities to align with current skills
• Practice new behavioral competencies to align with current situational requirements

Re-thinking money
• Live within your means to remain flexible during unexpected change

Keeping a journal
• The Center for Creative Leadership suggests that writing in “learning journals” or “reflection journals” enables reflection, self-awareness, learning, adaptability, and insight.

Three recommended journal sections include:
1. Event or experience
Describe the occurrence in factual, objective, quantifiable terms:
Who? What? When? Where? How? Why?

2. Reaction
Describe your reaction to the event in factual, objective, quantifiable terms. What did you want to do in response to the event?
What did you actually do?
What were your thoughts?
What were your feelings?

3. Lessons
What did you learn from the event and from your reaction to it?
What did the event suggest as a development area?
What common reaction patterns occur in similar situations?
What different reactions patterns have occurred in the past?
What do these different reactions suggest about progress in developing resilience?

The Center for Creative Leadership suggests that learning comes “reflecting on the doing,” and not just on the “doing” of specific actions.

-*Which of Pulley’s recommendations seem most applicable and feasible to rebound from unbidden changes, like job loss?

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Crash Course on Innovation, Creativity

Tina Seelig

Tina Seelig

Tina Seelig, Executive Director for the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP), the entrepreneurship center at Stanford University’s School of Engineering, and the Director of the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), offers a “crash course” in creativity.

She summarized her recommendations in her book, inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity, and explored factors that stimulate and inhibit creativity in individuals, teams, and organizations, including framing problems, challenging assumptions, and creative teams.

She introduces six interdependent elements of the “Innovation Engine”:

• Internal
o Information that becomes knowledge (fuel),
o Imagination (a catalytic converter that transforms knowledge into new ideas),
o Attitude (a spark that ignites the Engine, setting it in motion).

• External
o Resources (a community’s assets),
o Habitats (physical locations within which the Engine functions at peak performance),
o Culture (shared beliefs, values, and behaviors of the given community).

inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity also discusses models and tools that can be applied to class projects:

o The “Theory of Inventive Problem Solving” or TRIZ (the Russian acronym) methodology (Pages 50-51)
o A two-by-two creativity/pressure matrix (106-108)
o Habitats that simulate or inhibit creativity (128-131)
o Edward de Bono’s “Six Thinking Hats” model/exercise (128-131)
o Creating a habitat that encourages and supports risk taking and experimentation (160-163)
o Tapping into and activating strong emotional engagement (179-180)
o Précis: Knowledge, Imagination, and Attitude (185-189)

Seelig was awarded the 2009 Gordon Prize from the National Academy of Engineering, recognizing her as a national leader in engineering education, and the 2008 National Olympus Innovation Award, and the 2005 Stanford Tau Beta Pi Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.
She earned her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Stanford University Medical School and has written 16 popular science books and educational games.

Another of Seelig’s books is What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20: A Crash Course on Making Your Place in the World

-*What “Innovation Engine” components have been most effective in generating creative solutions in your organization?

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Three Factors Affecting Women in Corporate Leadership

Sara King

The Center for Creative Leadership’s Sara King and Northwestern University professor Alice Eagly examine the obstacles, pressures and trade-offs women face at every stage of their careers to analyze the reason that only three percent of Fortune 500 leaders are women.

Alice Eagly

King’s and Eagly’s research identified three factors affecting women in corporate leadership roles:

•    “Walking the narrow band” of acceptable behaviors: tough and demanding to be credible and effective but “easy to be with”; demonstrating the desire to succeed but not appearing “too” ambitious

•    “Owned by the job”, with the expectation of availability and productivity 24/7

•    “Traversing the Balance Beam” of conflicting role demands and limited time to fulfill them

They provide familiar suggestions:
•    Seek out mentors and advocates

•    Take risks, accept challenges to demonstrate adaptability, versatility.
Communicate willingness to change jobs and take on special projects to gain experience.
Learn from research findings that women are not viewed as promotable if they stay in one area of expertise or have a narrow functional role.

•    Communicate decisions, demand results, even if unpopular or requiring change management and persuasion

•    Project confident. Projecting an effective leadership image requires confidence. Don’t undermine good results with a weak or too modest self-image

Through the Labyrinth: The Truth About How Women Become Leaders.
Alice H. Eagly  Linda L. Carli, 2007 Harvard Business School Press.
The Center for Creative Leadership showcased related research that identified five themes among high-achieving women: agency, authenticity, connection, self-clarity and wholeness.

Agency, taking control of one’s career:
•    Analyze career steps
•    Set realistic, specific goals and develop a plan for achieving them
•    Ask for challenges outside your current functional orientation
•    Seek recognition
•    Ask for what you deserve

Authenticity, being genuine, being yourself by developing self-awareness to clarify   values, preferences, skills, acceptable trade-offs and acceptable sacrifices.

Connection, by taking time for people, to build personal and professional relationships, networking, finding a mentor, establishing a personal “board of directors” to provide support and feedback.

Self-clarity from seeking feedback and reflecting on one’s values, motivations, behaviors, strengths, weaknesses, impact on others.
This is a continuing process of evaluating changes in your needs, motivations, goals, values, while observing patterns, and being open to possibilities.

Wholeness from seeking roles beyond work or to unite different life roles, by prioritizing commitments and saying “no” to low-priority roles or obligations.

-*What solutions have you seen most effective in navigating the challenges facing women seeking leadership roles?

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Six Neuropsychologically-Based Emotional Styles

Richard Davidson

Richard Davidson

Richard Davidson, professor at University of Wisconsin’s book, The Emotional Life of your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way you Think, Feel, and Live–and how You can Change Them suggests that people favor one of six “brain styles.”

• Resilience – speed of recovery from adversity

• Outlook – duration of positive emotion

• Intuition – accuracy of decoding others’ nonverbal signals of emotion

• Self-awareness – accuracy of decoding internal signals of emotional reactions: heart rate, breathing, sweating, muscle tension

• Context – modulate emotional response tailored to environmental demands, constraints, options

• Attention – ability to focus, modulate emotional stimuli

These categories represent interacting elements that form an integrated cognitive-emotional processing pattern, rather than a discrete “style” as Davidson suggests.

He offers a quick assessment of your “brain style” via these surveys and other resources on his website and related locations.
———–
Related Post:
“Contemplative Neuroscience” can transform your mind, change your brain

-*Which Emotional Style is most prevalent is your work organization?
-*Which Style is more effective in your workplace?

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Making Magic Meaningful as a Life Metaphor

Kim Silverman

Kim Silverman

Kim Silverman is Principal Research Scientist at Apple, and holds a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Cambridge University.
Before his academic credentials, he sharpened his skills as a magician and cultivated an appearance similar to that of Hogwarts’ Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.
He is a president of the Society of American Magicians (Palo Alto), and a Magician Member of the Academy of Magical Arts.

He describes his “hobby” as “performing magic in a meaningful way that gives people something they can take away with them, to make them feel better about themselves and their lives, and thereby thrive more effectively.”

Silverman believes that magic can change the way we think about our lives:

-Things that seem impossible may be possible
-Things that are separated and broken may be rejoined
-There is always a way
-We can get free from something that holds us back
-When we feel trapped by a problem, it is just an illusion.

He asserts that magic provides a change of perspective from negative thoughts, and provides a broader perspective.
He acknowledges that suffering is an intrinsic part of human life and that it brings us together, and through it all, we can experience magic through our relationships.

Silverman concludes that things might not be as they appear, so there is hope, and this is an idea worth sharing.

-*How can the metaphors of perceptual illusion accelerate problem-solving in complex situations?

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“Zooming” to Shift Strategic Thinking Perspective

Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Rosabeth Moss Kanter of Harvard Business School suggests the electronic metaphor of “zooming in” and “zooming out”, to characterize a critical practice of changing points of view in strategic thinking.

She says that “zooming” represents the flexible shift from detail to context to better consider other routes to the ultimate goals.

Kanter observed the traditional association of women with the “zoom in” perspective to focus on detail and transactions (such as CFO roles), whereas men are often found in “big-picture” roles that define vision and direction (such as CEOs).

She argues for systematically incorporating both “zooming in” and “zooming out” in strategic problem analysis, and for recognizing potential biases that may exclude men from roles that focus on “zooming in” and women from roles that emphasize “zooming out.”

-*What practices do you use to intentionally shift your perspective from “big picture” to implementation details?

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