Goal Contents Theory in SDT

The Goal Contents Theory (GCT), which is a ‘mini’ theory included from the Self-determination theory, differentiates between basic needs for satisfaction and well being in terms of extrinsic, and intrinsic goals (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Extrinsic goals focus more on wealth and reputation whereas intrinsic goals concentrate on the feeling of community, close relationships and personal growth. The motivational tendency to have intrinsic goals within a social setting could also be applicable in educational settings such as sense of community. It might be more beneficial for students to focus on intrinsic goals rather than extrinsic in order to have better performance in an educational setting.

In an educational environment, blogs could help create this base of community by increasing the level of engagement of students with others (Williams & Jacobs, 2004) and actively discussing ideas to enhance the learning process through more independency and shared discussions (Yang, 2009). Also by providing feedback in the form of blog comments, it will elate more critical approaches to topics as well as encouraging students to more social interaction (Rockinson-Szapkiw & Walker, 2009) thus reducing exclusion of individuals. Referring to the GCT, it increases the likelihood of being more motivated due to a more intrinsically based goal orientation, as a sense of community might lead to higher engagement with the module material. Personally I thought it was quite helpful to engage with other students, through blog comments you could take a new perspective on a topic, which helped my critical thinking and writing skills.

Contrarily blogging could lead to an attenuated process of learning as the establishment of a community-based environment might be halted. The influence of tone of voice such as authoritativeness when discussing ideas or competitiveness between students could lead to a decreased sense of community (Xie & Sharma, 2004), therefore discouraging students from the active involvement in blogging. This could be influenced from extrinsically motivated goals such as reputation including grade marking.  

Overall blogging could help encourage students to learn more effectively as the feeling of community might help it easier to write about areas of interest for the individual by making the students feel part of a group such as a module. However it should be noted this could also lead to the opposite effect regarding personal motives such as extrinsically motivated goals.

 

References:

Rockinson-Szapkiw, A. J., & Walker, V. L. (2009). Web 2.0 technologies: Facilitating

interaction in an online human services counselling skills course. Journal of

Technology in Human Services, 27(3), 175−193.

 Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-­determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American

Psychologist, 55(1), 68‐78. doi: 10.1037//0003-­‐066x.55.1.68

 Williams, J. B., & Jacobs, J. (2004). Exploring the use of blogs as learning spaces in the higher education sector. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 20(2), 232−247.

Xie, Y., & Sharma, P. (2004). Students’ lived experience of using weblogs in a class: An exploratory study. Paper presented at the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, Chicago, IL.

Yang, S. H. (2009). Using blogs to enhance critical reflection and community of practice.

Educational Technology & Society, 12(2), 11−21.

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Anhedonia

Anhedonia is the lessened competency of experiencing pleasure and reduced interest in previously pleasurable activities including hobbies, social interaction, sexual interaction, excercise, etc. It is one the feature characteristics for Unipolar Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) (American Psychiatric Association, 1994) and as estimated by Pelizza & Ferrari (2009) around 37% of people with MDD suffer from anhedonia with a clinically significance. However it can also be present as characteristic symptoms of other disorder including Schizophrenia (Meehl, 1993) Other disorders include mood disorders such as bipolar disorders and personality disorders.

Myerson (1922) suggested that anhedonia in depression might not be caused by a general dampening of affective responses, but rather to an insufficiency to maintain positive affect as well as responsiveness to rewards. Thus suggesting that anhedonia is caused by suppressing positive emotions over time. Tomarken and Keener (1998) expanded this further and implied it could stem from a disorganization of positive affect regulation as the influence of down or up regulation allows the complete experience of positive emotions. The modulation of emotions is necessary as it allows controlling the extent to which for example a positive or negative emotion can be experienced.

However inhibition is also an important ability allowing inadequate responses to be controlled in order to avoid inappropriate reactions for example how positive/negative emotions should be presented in social situations. This cognitive function is predominately present in the inferior frontal gyrus and the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC), which varies dependent on the type of task that is inhibited. In depressed individuals this might be more pronounced as for example feelings of decreased self-worth or guilt might lead to individuals feeling the positive emotions might not be deserved, hence are inhibited.

Kumari (2003) found that depressed individuals when looking at pictures, which were positively annotated in comparison to negatively, annotated, presented higher activity in the VLPFC compared to control participants. This could suggest that individuals with depression have to concentrate and work harder when processing positive or pleasurable information in order to undergo a resembling level of happiness compared to controls. More effort is needed which is seen the increased activity in the VLPFC (Wood et al., 2003). The neural activity plays a significant role in the cause of anhedonia, which could suggest that the dampening of positive emotions could also occur nonconsciously (Parrott, 1993). Therefore an individual with depression might whether aware or not, attenuate positive affect thus reducing positive emotions, which results in showing anhedonic symptoms.

Light et a. (2011) investigated the hypothesis that individuals inclined to show anhedonic symptoms such as related to MDD, automatically suppress and therefore dampen positive emotions on a regular basis as the cognitive control system in the brain might be over-functioning. The results showed this hypothesis confirmed and could therefore help in further treatments techniques such as helping the patients are aware of recognizing positive emotions. Treatments effects were seen in using empathic happiness, sharing positive emotion when experienced with someone else as well as empathetic cheerfulness, e.g. cheering someone up who is down (Light et al., 2009). Although these treatments need to be investigated further to see clear long-term effects on anhedonia.

However there are limitations as for example individuals will not only be exposed to merely positive or negative emotions solely, but throughout the day a person will have experienced both. Dependent on the situations these might be more negative or positive. Therefore the applications, regarding ecological validity, might be more complex than the passive exposure to positive or negative information and thus difficult to replicate in a real world setting. Also distinctions between different types of enjoyment need to be made such as consummatory anhedonia, inability to experience pleasure from an activity, in comparison to motivational anhedonia, lack of feeling pleasure from being motivated to engage in an activity (Treadway & Zald, 2011). Different neural activities might take place with which could give further insight on the how pleasure is experienced and thus help provide better treatments possibilities.

Overall anhedonia is an important symptom, for example when looking at depression, to focus on how it is functioning within the brain areas. It will help in establishing further treatments and a better understanding.

References:

American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders:

DSM-IV. 4th ed. Washington, DC; 1994.

Kim, S. H., & Hamann, S. (2007). Neural correlates of positive and negative emotion

regulation. J Cogn Neurosci, 19, 776–798.

Kumari, V., Mitterschiffthaler, M.T., Teasdale, J.D., Malhi, G.S., Brown, R.G., Giampietro, V.,

et al. (2003). Neural abnormalities during cognitive genera- tion of affect in treatment-resistant depression. Biol Psychiatry, 54, 777– 791.

Light S.N., Coan, J.A., Zahn-Waxler, C., Frye, C., Goldsmith, H.H., Davidson, R.J. (2009).

Empathy is associated with dynamic change in prefrontal brain electrical activity during positive emotion in children. Child Dev, 80,1210 –1231.

Psychopathol Res 1993,16, 1-10.

Light, S. N., Heller, A. S., Johnstone, T., Kolden, G.G., Peterson, M. J., Kalin, N. H., and

Richard J. Davidson, R. J. (2011). Reduced Right Ventrolateral Prefrontal Cortex Activity While Inhibiting Positive Affect Is Associated with Improvement in Hedonic Capacity After 8 Weeks of Antidepressant Treatment in Major Depressive Disorder BIOL PSYCHIATRY, 70, 962-968. doi doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2011.06.031

Meehl PE. The origins of some of my conjectures concerning schizophrenia. Prog Exp Pers

Myerson, A. (1922). Anhedonia. Am J Psychiatry, 2, 87–103.

Parrott, G.W. (1993). Beyond hedonism: Motives for inhibiting good moods and for

maintaining bad moods. In: Wegner DM, Pennebaker JW, editors. Handbook of Mental Control. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice- Hall, 278 –305.

Pelizza, L., Ferrari, A., 2009. Anhedonia in schizophrenia and major depression: state

or trait? Ann. Gen. Psychiatry 8, 22.

Tomarken, A.J., & Keener, A. D. (1998). Frontal brain asymmetry and depression: A self-

regulatory perspective. Cogn Emot, 12(34).

Treadway MT, Zald DH (2011) Reconsidering anhedonia in depression: lessons from

translational neuroscience. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 35:537-555.

Wager, T.D., Sylvester, C.Y., Lacey, S.C., Nee, D.E., Franklin, M., Jonides, J. (2005). Common

and unique components of response inhibition revealed by fMRI. Neuroimage, 27, 323–340.

Wager, T. D., Davidson, M. L., Hughes, B. L., Lindquist, M. A., Ochsner, K. N. (2008).

Prefrontal- subcortical pathways mediating successful emotion regulation. Neuron, 59, 1037–1050.

Wood, J.V., Heimpel, S.A., Michela, J.L. (2003). Savoring versus dampening: Self-esteem

differences in regulating positive affect. J Pers Soc Psychol, 85, 566 –580.

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Humour as a method of emotional coping

When referring to humour, one instantly thinks about the times shared with friends, colleagues or family including ridiculous incidents or funny moments. Nevertheless humour is a more complex concept than merely social interaction, for example to hide displays of weakness or show allegiance thus serving various different functions than at first glance assumed.

Humour can be also used as a method for regulating emotions such as a coping strategy (Freud, 1928). There are four major approaches for how humour could be regarded as a regulating process to aid in dealing with negative emotions. Firstly Strick et al. (2009) suggest that attentional capabilities are necessary for humour to occur thus the focus is shifted and the resources, which are left for processing negative emotions, decrease; whereas Fredrickson & Levenson (1998) argue that positive emotions revoke negative emotions. Keltner & Bonnano (1997) state a different approach as they suggest that humour allows the perspective of a situation to be viewed from remoteness, allowing people to distance themselves from the negativity. This is similar to Vaillant (2000) who implies that through humour a situation can be evaluated from a different perspective and alters the emotional feedback in order to cope better.

This research is especially relevant for people who deal with tragic situations on a regular basis such as emergency workers, disaster workers, social workers, nurses, etc. Rubin (1990) found that people working in high stress environments are likely to reduce their levels of stress through the use of humour, especially gallows humour that mocks the personal circumstances of a situation. However gallows humour is a short-term method of coping as the distance created does not allow actual handling and can be counterproductive for example in therapeutic setting (Crabbs, Crabbs, & Goodman, 1986).

One does not have to involved at the place where a tragedy or disaster occurred to be affected by stress related symptoms (Davidhizar & Shearer, 2002). For example a few months after Sept. 11 attacks, a poll released from Schuster et al. (2001) displayed 33% of children and 44 % of the adult population showed symptoms induced from high stress. Through social media, disaster jokes were publicised (Nilsen, 1993) and were used as a method for coping and social bonding so to emotionally distance them from the occurrence.

Another function of humour is related to increasing emotional well-being such as seen with mental health in therapeutic use as in positive psychology. However when humour is wrongly applied such wrong timing, too frequently, or hostile manner it can be self-defeating for the patient and there is a high risk of relapse when (Kubie, 1970). Frederickson et al. (2001) created the Broaden and Build Model, which suggests that through consistent experience, for example a daily basis, of positive emotions in the form of humour, the reserves for coping are broadened and lead to more enhance emotional welfare (Fredrickson & Joiner, 2002). Hence the more positive emotions are experienced, over a period of time people will be then able to deal with contingencies better as their attitudes for handling a situation will be more optimistic in their views (Fredrickson et al., 2003). So being humorous on a regular basis can also have a positive impact on health.

Although different styles of humour have to be taken into account as people differ in their sense of humour. Samson and Gross (2012) tested the effects of positive and negative humour such as dark vs. innocent humour and hypothesized that positive humour would be more successful at promoting positive and decreasing negative emotions. The results were based on Vaillant’s (2000) approach of coping and showed a significant difference between positive and negative humour confirming the hypothesis. Negative humour is indicated to be better in creating an emotional distance in comparison to positive humour.

Although there are many positive aspects of humour in regards of emotional well-being and coping, there are some studies showing mixed results regarding humour. For example, Dorz et al. (2003) showed rather than an uplifting effect it had the opposite effect concerning stress and depression. Also that even when humour was shown to increase mood it did not have any long-term effects on mental health or emotional well being (Gelkopf et al., 2003). The limitation of the studies testing humour was looking at the correlation rather than at cause and effect.

Overall the research of humour highlights to be an effective mechanism for coping in a stress based environment as well as helping to increase emotional well being, however it should not be used irresponsible and in a non-destructive manner. It is important to research the effects of the different types of humour in order to understand how it can be incorporated as a useful tool to support underlying treatment to cope for example with stress and trauma. However more research needs to be invested to properly understand long-term effects and further uses of humour.

References:

Crabbs, M. A., Crabbs, S. K., & Goodman, J. (1986). Giving the gift of humor (ho, ho, ho): An interview with Joel Goodman. Elementary School Guidance & Counseling, 21,105–113.

Davidhizar, R., & Shearer, R. (2002). Helping children cope with public disasters. American Journal of Nursing, 102(3), 26-33.

Dorz, S., Novara, C., Sica, C., & Sanavio, E. (2003). Predicting burnout among HIV/AIDS and oncology health care workers. Psychology & Health, 18, 677-684.

Fredrickson, B.L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56, 218–226.

Fredrickson, B. L., & Levenson, R. W. (1998). Positive emotions speed recovery from the cardiovascular sequelae of negative emotions. Cognition and Emotion, 12, 191-220.

Fredrickson, B.L., & Joiner, T. (2002). Positive emotions trigger upward spirals toward emotional well-being. Psychological Science, 13, 172–175.

Fredrickson, B.L., Tugade, M.M., Waugh, C.E., & Larkin, G.R. (2003). What good are positive emotions in crisis? A prospective study of resilience and emotion following the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11th, 2001. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 365–376.

Freud, S. (1928). Humour. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 9, 1-6.

Gelkopf, M., Kreitler, S., & Sigal, M. (1993). Laughter in a psychiatric ward: Somatic, emotional, social, and clinical influences on schizophrenic patients. Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease, 181, 283-289.

Keltner, D., & Bonnano, G. A. (1997). A study of laughter and dissociation: Distinct correlates of laughter and smiling during bereavement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 687-702.

Kubie, L. S. (1970). The destructive potential of humor in psychotherapy. In W. M. Mendel (Ed.), A celebration of laughter (pp. 67–81). Los Angeles: Mara Books.

Nilsen, D. (1993). Humor scholarship: A research bibliography. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Rubin, J. G. (1990). Critical incident stress debriefing: Helping the helpers. Journal of Emergency Nursing, 16(4), 255-258.

Samson, A. C., & Gross, J. J. (2012) Humour as emotion regulation: The differential consequences of negative versus positive humour, Cognition & Emotion, 26(2), 375-384, DOI: 10.1080/02699931.2011.585069.

Schuster, M. A., Stein, B. D., Jaycox, L. H., Collins, R. L., Marshall, G. N., Elliott, M. N., et al. (2001). A national survey of stress reactions after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The New England Journal of Medicine, 345(20), 1507-1512.

Strick, M., Holland, R. W., Van Baaren, R. B., & Van Knippenberg, A. (2009). Finding comfort in a joke: Consolatory effects of humor through cognitive distraction. Emotion, 9, 574-578.

Vaillant, G. E. (2000). Adaptive mental mechanisms. Their role in a positive psychology. American Psychologist, 55, 89-98.

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Development of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

In order to achieve our goals and plans, as well as overcoming our weaker self’s, it is essential to have a motivational drive, encouraging to put into practice what one needs or wants to do. Whether this is a short-term goal, for example on a daily basis such as being motivated to cook a meal and washing up, or long-term goals orientated in the future such as obtaining a degree or working towards a promotion, for example. Although sometimes we just don’t have the motivation to pursue with a certain task or activity, it is necessary to understand what will help keep our levels of motivation upright, without giving up on them or losing interest, especially when these are in line with our long-term goals.

White (1959) discovered in his animal research that animals partake in behaviours, which are not controlled through obtaining rewards but are rather impelled by curiosity and playfulness. This portrays that there is an innate motivational tendency to enjoy certain behaviours without the need of reinforcement, which is termed as intrinsic motivation referring to engaging with a task for the task itself. This means that purely by partaking in a certain activity or task, it is enough to stay interested with the activity that no external rewards or incentives need to be put into place to continue pursuing in it. As a child we find it easier to be excited and find enjoyment in tasks that might now seem less enjoyable when we are older such as learning during elementary school in comparison to high school. Reeve et al. (2004) found that this type of motivation helps increase achievement in students, enjoyment of going to school as well as conceptual learning.

However there are things, which we just, do not enjoy doing as much as other things and therefore are less likely to engage with them in the same way. This type of motivation can be referred to as extrinsic motivation as compared to intrinsic motivation, in which no reinforcement is required; it is driven through the outcome available after the activity or task or out of fear of punishment/sanctions. For example a student at university might know that by learning and taking an interest in a field of study they want to pursue in, is beneficial for their goal career later on. Therefore the student takes the responsibility to acquire the knowledge even if it means they do not enjoy the tasks intrinsically up to reaching that goal.

            Although if this means that intrinsic motivation is a build in inclination for seeking interest and enjoyment with activities within our environment, does this then also mean that there is a motivational change over time or does this inclination stay the same when we get older?

            An experiment done by Gillet et al. (2012) looked at how intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in school developed with age testing this with 1600 elementary school children and high school students (aged between 9- 17 years old). The participants were assessed on a scale rating their motivational reasons (e.g. pleasure of doing it, I don’t know why, etc.) on engaging in school activities such as school attendance, doing homework and being attentive to the teacher in the classroom. The results showed that for both types of motivation change over time from a child to becoming a teenager. Intrinsic motivation reduces over time from 9 to 15 years old, which is supported by various studies, suggesting it to be a robust phenomenon. However this effect on intrinsic motivation is then however reverted at 16-17 years old, which is similar in results to extrinsic motivation also decreasing and then reversing at 16.

The reversal in later adolescence could be perhaps explained by students at a higher class are able to decide for example which courses they would want to continue and therefore are able to follow their interests more. The increase of deciding for oneself where to emphasize the studies could thus lead to more intrinsic and extrinsic motivation as suggested by Deci  Ryan (2000). Also Gottfried et al. (2009) the more parents involved the children with task that involves intrinsic motivation, so the task they did were enjoyable; the less likely there was a decrease in intrinsic motivation at a later age. So it seems with the right support the children will develop more intrinsic motivation towards a task, which can help to prevent a motivational indent when older.

Nevertheless it is important to mention, that everyone has a motivational low at a certain time. These can be influenced by environmental factors such as socially or physiologically such as having a cold or being injured and therefore not being able to concentrate. However also mental health issues such as depression could lead to a lack of motivation and therefore the development of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation could occur differently. Individual Differences such as personality also play an important role as a person who might be more persistence with a task in comparison with someone who gives up easily, might have more intrinsic or extrinsic motivational than another. Therefore it is essential to keep in mind that the development of motivation might occur differently within each individual dependent on their personal history.

            Overall it is important to understand how we are motivated and in what sense we are motivated to accomplish certain tasks in order achieve goals. Especially when confronted with motivated oneself for different tasks at an everyday level. More research needs to be invested to see how intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are linked to everyday tasks, in order to understand the whole concept of motivational drives.

 

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs

and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227–268.

Gillet, N., Vallerand, R. J., & Lafrenière, M. A. K. (2012). Intrinsic and extrinsic

school motivation as a function of age: the mediating role of autonomy support. Soc Psychol Educ, 15, 77-95. doi: 10.1007/s11218-011-9170-2.

Gottfried, A. E., Marcoulides, G. A., Gottfried, A. W., & Oliver, P. H. (2009). A latent curve

model of parental motivational practices and developmental decline in math and science academic intrinsic motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101, 729–739.

Reeve, J., Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2004). Self-determination theory: A dialectical

framework for understanding socio-cultural influences on student motivation. In D. M. McInerney & S. Van Etten (Eds.), Big theories revisited (pp. 31–60). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Press.

Skinner, B. F. (1953). Science and human behavior. New York: Macmillan.

White, R. W. (1959). Motivation reconsidered. Psychological Review, 66, 297–333.

 

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Does Comfort Food actually comfort?

Independent of culture, every society has different varieties of what we call ‘comfort foods’ which are eaten for varying reasons such as being ill, feeling sad or depressed, etc. In America for example, ice cream is stereotypically known to be the comfort food to eat after a break up, or Kroppkakor, which are dumplings with various types of fillings, are a typical Swedish comfort food. Eating comfort food is associated as seen in the name, with the comfort that comes from eating comfort food. Therefore it is not used to satisfy hunger but rather the emotional state or needs of the individual to increase his or her psychological well-being when feeling for example unhappy or ill.

In an experiment done by J. D. Troisi and S. Gabriel (2010), the effects of comfort food in connection to relationships and loneliness were examined. The participants, undergraduate students, rated in advance how much they thought ‘chicken noodle soup’, which was used here as the comfort food, to be a comfort food. 

In the first experiment the participants were randomly assigned to eat chicken noodle soup alone or not eating the soup, and then performing a word related task with relationship related words.

In the second experiment, the participants were divided into either secure or insecure attachment styles and were asked to write about a new experience with food or eating comfort food.

The results showed that participants who believed ‘chicken noodle soup’ to be a comfort food used much more relationship related constructs than subjects rating it not to be a comfort food. Subjects with secure attachment styles felt less likely to be lonely when writing about the comfort food showing an emotional attachment towards the relationship in connection with the food.

However the participants used in the experiment were undergraduates, which means they are at an age, just having left home and might feel vulnerable and insecure, hence the effect of comfort foods might be more pronounced. So the effect of comfort foods might be different when the emotional state is more stable when subjects are older or when coming from a different culture. Also one might argue that the comforting effect could be caused due to the texture or warmth of the food rather than the connection towards the food. When eating comfort food, it is mostly in relation to certain situations and is associated as being a favourite type of food. Therefore it is not necessarily only the texture that should be taken into account but also the memories and emotional attachment.

Overall comfort food does help comfort us emotionally, also known as soul food, comforting the soul. So when ice cream to help us increase our well being or eating chicken noodle soup to get healthy, it will enhance our emotional state.

 

References:

http://www.thelocal.se/37572/20111125/

Troisi JD, & Gabriel S (2011). Chicken soup really is good for the soul: “comfort food” fulfills the need to belong. Psychological science, 22 (6), 747-53 PMID: 21537054 Retrieved from http://pss.sagepub.com/content/22/6/747.long

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Introverted and Extraverted Personalities

In western society, extraverted personality traits seem to be an important factor in acquiring achievement and are more emphasized in work or school as it is seen to be a necessary tool for successfully developing projects, work plans, assignments, for example. Hence group work in schools for preparing assignments is strongly reinforced by teachers, similar to employers preferring employees that are more communicative and capable of handling group dynamics in a management team. Thereby the ability to exchange, generate and communicate ideas within a group is associated with a more reviving learning/working environment.

An experiment by Jung et al. (2011) examined the ability to create diverse and unique ideas in CMG (computer-mediated-groups) and NG (nominal groups) between extraverts and introverts. The participants chosen from a University were asked to complete a six-item Extraversion-Introversion personality questionnaire; of which only the highest (extravert) and lowest (introvert) rated participants were used. In the CMG condition, participants were asked to generate as many ideas as possible on “how to improve the university’s parking problem?” (p. 8), whilst interacting with a web based stimulator viewing the ideas of others. The participants in the NG condition, worked independently also having to generate as many ideas as possible. The results showed that extroverts generated more unique and diverse ideas than introverts in the CMG condition.

This might indicate that having more extraverted personality traits (i.e. open, outgoing, enhancement through external stimuli of others) seem to be more profitable characteristics in teamwork abilities in comparison to introversive traits (i.e. quiet, reserved, less enhancement through external stimuli of others). Therefore extraverted people are able to generate ideas better with a group effort than introverted people. More outgoing individuals might find it easier to express their ideas among a larger group than working independently. This could help them in producing creative and diverse ideas effectively due to a constant exchange of thoughts. More reserved personalities might have difficulties in expressing their thoughts or ideas when confronted with a group of talkative and outgoing individuals for example, as they might prefer independent working. Independent working requires more time to oneself as well as personal ‘space’ in order to produce ideas.

However one has to acknowledge that everybody can act more introversive or extroversive dependent on the situation as behaviour can be influenced by factors such as upbringing, emotion, culture, etc. Therefore an individual being a bit quieter does not necessarily mean they are entirely introverted or a loud person being completely extroverted.  Also an important factor is that the quantity of ideas produced within a group does not necessarily affect the quality of ideas, as one person might have one striking idea whereas a group of people might not be able to generate one due to lack of compromise for example. This is supported by a study performed by Girotra et al. (2010) stating that building on other ideas in a group does not necessarily help produce better quality of ideas or more ideas. Introverted people might not engage as much in group performance but this does not reflect their creativity or idea production, merely their interaction.

Overall, being more extroversive helps in engaging in group work more effectively than being introversive. This is an important issue in education and the work world as working and learning depends on extraverted skills. However the need for independent learning and development of ideas should not be neglected as these skills are essential in being dependent on oneself with work. When there is no one to ask or share ideas with, the introversive individuals have presumably more chances at producing ideas. Therefore a mix of team work abilities and independent working should be applied in both the working and educational environment being beneficial for both extraverted and introverted individuals. In general more research needs to be invested as this is could help improve the methods for idea generation both in education and the work world.

References:

Jung, J. H., Lee, Y. & Karsten, R. (2011). The moderating effect of extraversion- introversion differences on group idea generation performance. Small Group Research, 1-20. doi:10.1177/1046496411422130

Girotra, K., Terwiesch, C., & Ulrich, K. T. (2010). Idea generation and the quality of the best idea. Management Science, 56, 591-605. doi:10.1287/mnsc.1090.1144

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Emotional Intelligence

The ability to express our emotions is an essential part of social life enabling social interaction as well as social bonds such as friendships, family bonds, etc. to be strengthened and built upon which can be more or less pronounced in individuals. However not only expressing emotions is important but also other factors such as self-awareness, social skill, management of emotions and empathy play an important role in dealing with emotions and can be referred to as part of Emotional Intelligence (EI).

An experiment by Hoffman et al. (2010) looked at the recognition of facial emotions between males and females. The participants viewed pictures of faces showing different intensities, varying from subtle to high intensity, of expressing emotion including anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, surprise. The results showed that women were able to recognize subtle expression of emotion better in faces. And men had difficulty in discerning sadness from anger at subtle intensity. However no significant gender difference can be seen with high intensity expression of emotion.

This could be an indication that women have a higher level of understanding and reacting to emotions, which is supported by studies suggesting that women have a better emotional empathy whereas men are better at handling distressful situations. However this cannot be generalised, as men can be as empathic as women and women can be able to handle distressful situations. Especially when looking at leadership qualities in businesses in which high levels of EI are already preferred requirement for example, men and women do not differ in emotional intelligent abilities when looking at the top performing leaders suggesting that high levels of EI are an important quality in having high leadership skills. Although it could also be the case that having high leadership skills indicate high levels of EI and therefore being a leader helps being more emotional intelligent. In evolutionary sense this might have been necessary in order for the alpha male or female to keep the group together as a whole as empathising would help create group bonding essential in survival.

Different could factors play a role in EI as dependent on a person’s personality, being outgoing or very shy, and upbringing, to express emotions or hide emotions, for example might influence the individuals EI skills independent of gender. The EI of an individual might change over time due to external/internal influences such as traumatic, disturbing events or personality changes for example, altering the reliability of measuring the EI. The EI could also be different dependent on the cultural background as the culture might in general be more emotionally expressive or reserved.

Overall expressing as well as understanding emotion is an important factor in our everyday life and provides us with a necessary ability to socially interact. Therefore even if women might be more emphatic and men might be more able to act in distressing situations, this cannot be over generalised as many factors influence this such as leadership qualities or personality. Also this is an indication of a correlation relationship and not a causal relationship between the factors and therefore more research needs to be invested.

 

 

References:

Brackett, M. A., Mayer, J. D. & Warner, R. M. (2004). Emotional intelligence and its relation to everyday behaviour. Personality and Individual Differences, 36(6), 1387-1402. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886903002368

Hoffman, H., Kessler, H., Eppel, T., Rukavina, S. & Traue, H. C. (2010). Expression intensity, gender and facial emotion recognition: Women recognize only subtle facial emotions better than men. Acta Psychologica, 135(3), 278-283. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000169181000140X

Goleman, D. (2011, May 6). Are Women More Emotionally Intelligent Than Men? [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://danielgoleman.info/2011/are-women-more-emotionally-intelligent-than-men/

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