For managers, team leaders and all those who are in charge of other employees, the consequence of these findings is pretty simple: when employees complete a task for you, acknowledge what they have done. Let them show or explain it to you. It might not always be possible to implement what they suggest. Furthermore, sometimes projects end before they have even begun, and whatever employees have completed until then is often of no further use. Moreover, what employees do is not always good, so it is not always possible to praise what they have produced. That’s just the way it is. But we should always acknowledge the effort they have put into it. When doing so, remember what we wrote about establishing high quality connections: always turn your full attention to the person. This does not require much effort. But the effects can be huge.
We found two videos that explain in a bit more detail the biases our mind has. In the first one, it is outlined how our brain makes use of what you know and does not take into account what you might not know.
Last week, we attended the EAWOP Congress, the 16th Congress of the European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology. During the congress, an Innovation Award was given to Ute Hülseger from Maastricht University for her work on the role of mindfulness for employee health and well-being. We attended her keynote speech.
The interesting thing is that even though one might not have been able to find a purpose for the objects he and others had created, they managed to sell them. After a while, he saw videos of people doing really crazy things, apparently inspired by his inventions. And all of a sudden, some of the inventions turned into something useful. For example, disabled people used them as auxiliary devices which they normally would not be able to afford. Professional musicians used some of the inventions. And so on!
His conclusion is that as we know several brain circuits and the functions they control, we can access them and modulate their activity (motor, cognitive, or mood). He thinks that the method will have a lot more indications than the ones he presented and that in the future we will (hopefully) be able to help patients with many different diseases.
Världens största arbetspsykologiska konferens, SIOP gick av stapeln här om veckan i Houston. cut-e var på plats. Med sina 21 parallella sessioner under 3 dagar är det ett idealiskt tillfälle att sätta örat mot rälsen och träffa forskare och praktiker som driver utvecklingen inom fältet. Så, vad pratas det om?
Ingen kan ha undgått Big data som buzz-word de senaste åren. Fenomenet handlar om att göra förutsägelser och styra verksamheten genom analys av stora mängder lagrad digital information. Lätt att ta till sig tankegångarna för oss arbetspsykologer som är vana vid beslut baserade på statistisk analys av en stor mängd datapunkter. En ökad medvetenhet om kraften i big data i takt med att mängden lagrad information ökar exponentiellt i samhället är förstås oerhört intressant som ögonöppnare för vår bransch och ligger i linje med det uppsving de flesta större testleverantörer upplever just nu. Eller som rubriken i Harvard Business Review’s novembernummer upplyser oss om: ”Data Scientist – The Sexiest Job of the 21:st Century”. På Siop fanns förstås temat representerat av flera stora företag som styrt upp allsköns aspekter av verksamheten. Allt från kalibrering av urvalsprocesser till hur Google mixtrat med lunchserveringen för att lura i sina computer geeks mer sallad.
Som överallt annars var sociala medier ett ämne som fyllde bänkraderna. Vid analys av organisationer som använder sociala medier för att attrahera kandidater framgår att det är långt ifrån självklart hur kommunikation via dessa kanaler fungerar. Information via sociala medier uppfattas tex i större utsträckning som åsikter medan information på hemsidor uppfattas som mer faktisk. Undersökningar pekar också på att kandidater i första hand föredrar hemsidor framför sociala medier i samband med jobbsökande. Råd som lades fram var att organisationer bör tänka igenom noga vilken målgrupp som rekryteras via vilken kanal.
Majoriteten av presenterade studier på området var av mer deskriptiv art, utan tydlig teoretiskt underbyggd hypotesprövande ansats. Alltså typiskt för ett tidigt stadium i ett gryende forskningsområde. Definitivt ett område där tekniken har kommit längre än forskningen och där vi kommer få se mycket mer forskning kring de närmsta åren.
Beslutsfattande är ett forskningsområde som äntligen börjar ta plats på SIOP. Trots massiv litteratur – och även nobelpris till Daniel Kahneman – har ämnet förvånadsvärt nog hållit låg profil inom arbetspsykologin. Denna gång representerades fältet bland annat av Reeshad Dalal, som pratade om overconfidence, dvs människors tendens att vara säkrare på sina beslut än de egentligen har grund för. Det är inte så lite det felar: Beslut som fattas med 90 % säkerhet är korrekta till ca 50 %! En smula problematiskt är dessutom att det inte hjälper att vara medveten om sin överkonfidens; effekten kvarstår ändå. Vad ska man då göra för att begå färre misstag? En metod är att be om input från andra, en djävulens advokat, eller någon annan person som är neutral i frågan. Fler hjärnor fattar i regel bättre beslut än en.
Salas summerade kortfattat vad vi vet om teamwork och konstaterade att effektivt teamwork spelar stor roll inom organisationer. Viktiga faktorer bakom effektivt teamwork kan sammanfattas med tumregeln ”7 C” – Cooperation, Coordination, Communication, Cognition (gemensam förståelse), Coaching (genom ledarskap), Conflict (hantering) och Conditions (normer och support from organisationen). Lyckligtvis är ju detta saker vi vet att vi kan påverka.
Personlighetstest och fusk
Den sk faking-problematiken har diskuterats så länge som det har funnits personlighetstest. Och ja – diskussionen lever vidare. Att försköna sina svar på personlighetstest för att öka chansen att få jobbet, kallar vissa forskare för ”faking”. Andra forskare föredrar att kalla det för ”response distorsion”, eftersom det finns såväl medvetna som omedvetna orsaker till att arbetssökande får ”bättre” resultat än icke-arbetssökande. Det är inte bara benämningen av effekten som skiljer mellan forskare, utan även synen på om det spelar någon roll. Och vad ska man i så fall göra åt det? Mycket forskning ägnas åt statistiska korrigeringar av resultat i efterhand, men olika modeller för korrigering leder till olika resultat, vilket ställer frågetecken kring hur korrigerade resultat ska tolkas. Niel Christiansen påpekade att han hellre ser att forskning fokuserar på utveckling av test som inte är lika känsliga för response distorsion; det är bättre att minska effekten redan från början än att korrigera för den i efterhand. Såväl Niel som Paul Sackett lyfte fram att forskning inom forced choice-baserade personlighetstest tycks vara lovande för att kunna minska effekterna.
Skrivet av: Mats Englund, Manager Research & Development på cut-e Nordic
“Many of us will recall occasions when we skipped breakfast, grabbed a croissant or a muffin mid-morning, ate lunch staring at our computer screens or had fast food for dinner. If we’re a 21st century office worker, it’s likely we’re all familiar with these experiences.” These are the introductory words for a survey that investigated the connections between stress at work and unhealthy eating habits.
The full report by food psychologist Dr. Barbara Stewart-Knox of The Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health (NICHE) at the University of Ulster and Herbalife is available online here.
4,980 office workers between 18 and 75 years of age in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy participated in the survey and reported their job roles, stress levels and eating habits. The good news was that eating habits amongst European office workers were healthier than for example those of American employees and overall okay. However, the survey also demonstrated that stress at work is related to high-energy food intake and unhealthy eating behaviours. Under stressful conditions, particularly women tend to overeat, and younger employees in middle- to senior-ranking jobs seem to be more prone to unhealthy snacking behaviours than older ones.
Why is this so? One explanation is that chronic stress is associated with reduced levels of insulin and leptin, the hormones responsible for storing energy. When less energy is stored, this means that also less energy is available when needed. Furthermore, lower levels of these two hormones seem lead to increased appetite, but decreased fat metabolism. Thus, when under chronic stress, we have less energy available and need to take more in, and we experience more appetite, while our fat metabolism does not work quite as well.
Interestingly, workers were found to eat healthier snacks when at work than when at home. One explanation provided in the report was that people want to present themselves as being on a good and healthy diet. But the other explanation is even more interesting: When returning from a stressful day at work, many people reward themselves by sweets or a glass of wine. Our internal reward system in the brain, ruled by the neurotransmitter dopamine, starts connecting “getting back home after a stressful day” to a pleasurable stimulus, i.e. sweets or wine. This often leads us to developing unhealthy eating habits. Furthermore, when we are tired (which we often are when we are under stress), we produce more of the hormone melatonin, which leads to a drop of the level of another hormone, leptin. This drop in the level of leptin seems to make us more prone to taking in sugary or fatty foods.
Furthermore, the study found that when workers feel stressed, it takes them longer to go to sleep than when not stressed. This again can be e vicious circle: workers are tired in the morning because they have not had enough sleep. As they are tired, they don’t work as efficiently and have to work longer. When they get back home late, they are even more stressed out, which makes it more difficult to go to sleep. And so on.
In the study, there are a few recommendations on how stress at work can be reduced. Enhancing physical activity at work is one of them. But also snacking habits should be changed. Of course, it is better to have fruit or yoghurt than chocolate or biscuits. But what is not too well-known is that also eating too much fruit can produce negative effects similar to the intake of too much chocolate. Fruit also raises the level of blood sugar, which is absorbed quickly by insulin. Thus, eating fruit leads to an energy pike that can drop again quickly and then may lead to the need for more sugar intake (which could be more fruit, but also sweets).
Furthermore, some people have learned in their childhood to associate fatty or sugary foods with relief from stress, boredom or unhappiness. Often, this association remains when they grow up, and thus, they use unhealthy snacks as means of relieving themselves from stress, boredom or unhappiness. Patterns like these need to be unraveled and overcome.
Finally, also perfectionism seems to play a role in unhealthy eating habits. Perfectionists often try to have a really perfect diet that contains only healthy foods. Once they cross the line and eat something unhealthy, they feel like having failed, and once this has happened, they end up in a downward spiral with respect to their previously healthy diet. For people like this, it can be pointed out that a single “outtake” in their diet is no drama and that they have not failed just because they ate one unhealthy item. Loosening their own standards a bit can prevent them from getting into the downward spiral.
Being conscious about patterns like ones mentioned above can help overcome them. But also employers can help their employees, for example by not selling unhealthy snacks or sweet drinks and offering healthy foods in the canteen (if there is one). But they can also make sure that there is a kitchen in which employees can prepare their own lunch (or simply warm up something they have brought from home), provide healthy drinks (such as water) or healthy snacks like fruit or yoghurt for free. They can encourage their employees to exercise. And, finally, they can keep an eye on their employees’ stress levels.
Computers are becoming smarter and smarter. They can help us find our way in a city we have never been before (navigation system). They know facts we can’t remember (e.g. Wikipedia). In fact, they are so smart that they can not only beat world class chess players in a game of chess, but even the best Jeopardy players in the quiz. As a consequence, if their knowledge outdoes ours, why should we still bother to learn facts like other countries’ capitals, former presidents’ names or historical dates?
In a TED Talk, Ken Jennings, who holds the record for most consecutive wins on the classic American trivia game show, Jeopardy, remembers what it was like when super computer Watson beat him in the game. He reasons on the consequences of the recent developments. When jobs that require thinking, like for example finding law cases relevant for a certain trial or writing a newspaper article about a football game, can be done extremely well by a computer, why should we still bother to acquire knowledge?
In his talk, he explains that the downside of this development is that our brains are not challenged any more. As a result, they shrink and we become dumber. In his opinion, this is a problem because our world is increasingly complex. There is so much information that we need to be familiar with in order to make good judgment and decisions and thus master the complexity. When we don’t have the information available, will we bother looking it up? Or will we just make a (most likely not very sound) decision based on what we know? And what happens if we simply do not have the time to look something up, but need to respond to a certain situation instantly? From the examples he gives in his talk, it becomes quite evident why having knowledge in different fields available is important to survive in this world – literally!
Skrivet av: http://cut-e-science.blogspot.se/
First, they conducted an experiment to find out whether fruit flies could really experience something like emotions. They found that this was the case by exposing the fruit flies to puffs of air and observing their reactions. Second, the researchers induced a state of arousal and excitement in fruit flies that had certain genes turned on or off and found that one group needed more time to calm down from the excitement than the other. Dopamine and its receptors were involved in this process, the neurotransmitter that is linked to attention, arousal, and reward, but also to drug abuse, Parkinson Disease and ADHD. In a follow up study, they looked at two aspects of ADHD, hyperactivity and learning disability, and found that both of these aspects were located in different areas of the flies’ brains. They came to the conclusion that the same receptor controls different functions in different areas of the brain.