Category Archives: Intrapersonal Processes

The influence of feedback on goal pursuit

At some point we have all been put off by the negative feedback we received. As a novice though, negative feedback can be quite difficult to accept and can even impact our future attempts at a task; while positive feedback for novices’ means improvement–improvement that can encourage future attempts. Experts, on the other hand, often seek negative feedback and see it as a source of improvement. Since experts usually know their strengths positive feedback will not help much. This analysis, according to Fishbach, Eyal, and Finkelstein (2010), helps individuals with goal pursuit.

A case in point: NPR reports that it is becoming more and more acceptable to cry at work. Why? As a way to reach a goal employers are giving their employees’ negative feedback, in turn evoking sadness. These individuals, according to the report, tend to be younger and “in touch with their emotions”. Perhaps the employers can take a different approach and provide these younger (novice) individuals with positive feedback that can be more constructive and encourage goal pursuit.

Not surprising, T.V. shows, radio shows, and even newspapers have had their success providing advice or feedback. Feedback is so important to some individuals’ that online tools have been created for that purpose and with some success. According to an NPR story, the claim of the tool is to provide honest and anonymous feedback. The idea behind anonymous feedback is to reduce any anxiety and allow privacy.  Applying this tool should not be difficult; the story cites the example of individuals getting feedback when it is too late and the person is getting laid off.  The target of the tool is individuals in their 20’s who tend to be newer at their jobs and are constantly seeking feedback or advice to reach their goals and perhaps obtain promotions.

However, Fishbach et al. (2010) make the point that providing advice, whether positive or negative should be consistent with an individuals’ level of experience. Providing the proper feedback to individuals can lead to improvement and also “goal adherence”.

Hear More:Weeping while you work? Go right ahead

Hear More: Online tool offers honest, Anonymous Feedback

Fishbach, A., Eyal, T., Finkelstein, S.R. (2010). How positive and negative feedback motivate goal pursuit.

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Should you trust the airline industry?

By Kevin R. Betts

On a recent flight out of Detroit, I overheard an elderly couple arguing about whether or not they should have shared a suitcase. Bringing individual suitcases cost the couple $100 roundtrip, whereas sharing a suitcase would have only cost them $50. Fees for checked bags, as well as hidden costs associated with services like ticket changes, insurance, and booking flights by phone are common in the airline industry. Although base prices for flights often appear inexpensive, these prices do not reflect additional hidden fees that are usually incurred. Moreover, airlines are well known among the general public for variable base rate pricing, whereby different customers are charged different prices for the same tickets.

Given these concerns, many airline passengers have developed a jaded view of the airline industry. Recent research by Heyman and Mellers (2008) suggests that this can be expected. Investigating perceptions of fair pricing, they found that consumers who learn about variable pricing often feel betrayed. Moreover, companies that use variable pricing, but are caught trying to cover their tracks, are perceived as even worse. Although the airline industry may see short term financial gains by incorporating hidden fees and variable pricing methods, these gains may be outmatched by future losses as passengers lose trust in the industry.

As consumers, should we trust the airline industry? That decision needs to be made by each potential passenger, but what we should all be careful to do is stay informed. Are you willing to pay $350 for a ticket that the person sitting next to you paid $225 for? Are you willing to pay a processing fee for booking your flight by phone instead of over the internet? As consumers, these are important questions that we must consider.

Read more:

Rising air fare (New York Times)

Hidden fees aggravate air travelers (CNN)

Heyman, J.E., & Mellers, B.A. (2008). Perceptions of fair pricing. In C.P. Haugtvedt, P.M. Herr, & F.R. Kardes (Eds.), Handbook of consumer psychology (pp. 683-697). New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Xie, Y. and Peng, S. (2009). How to repair customer trust after negative publicity: The roles of competence, integrity, benevolence, and forgiveness. Psychology and Marketing, 26, 572–589.

View other posts by Kevin R. Betts

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A positive experience: Take my money and then some!

Events interpreted as aversive tend to elicit effects that influence our response. So if an average individual is in a casino gambling and he or she is on a losing streak the response is likely to be to stop gambling–withdrawal. Generally speaking the purpose of the response is so that the individual will have money left over to get home. This sort of response, however, is bad for business and casinos are doing something about it.

What can casinos do to keep me gambling my money, you ask? A Radiolab reporter found that, for starters, casino workers can be very nice to you in effect giving you a positive experience. The next thing casinos can do is reward you with, not money (they keep that), but with random gifts such as gift cards etc. These gifts are not of major significance by any means but make a whole lot of difference in the long run. So much so, that the casinos are making the practice standard protocol for the purpose of keeping their customers returning to the gambling table.

How the effect works: van Steenbergen et al., (2009) found that randomly rewarding participants in a conflict adaptation task did not affect their performance, a negative effect was found for those that did not get rewarded or even lost. The reward in this context is perceived as attenuating the negative effect or experience of the event.  The idea is that the effect of losing while gambling can be counteracted by rewarding customers with other smaller gifts leading to a more pleasing experience.

Hear more : Radiolab—episode on Choice

Van Steenbergen, Band, & Hommel (2009). Reward Counteracts Conflict Adaptation: Evidence for a role of affect in the executive control.

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Does isolation reduce violent behavior among psychiatric inpatients?

By Kevin R. Betts

The Joint Commission, an independent health care oversight group, recently expressed alarm over violence in U.S. hospitals. Russell L. Colling, a consultant who advised the Joint Commission said, “The reality is, there is violence every day in the emergency department.” On inpatient units in psychiatric hospitals, violent behavior among patients is often met with forced isolation. A primary goal of isolating these patients is to ensure their safety, as well as that of other patients and staff. However, isolation is also thought by many to act as a deterrent for potential future acts of violence. Having been directly involved in this process as a mental health technician, I often pondered the effectiveness of isolation as a way to combat violent behavior among patients.

Perhaps counterintuitively, research on social ostracism suggests that isolation may promote later aggressive acts (Williams, 2007). In order to understand why this may be the case, imagine yourself in the position of a patient involuntarily committed to an inpatient unit at a local psychiatric hospital. Disagreeing with your involuntary admission, you verbally express your anger to the staff. Told that you may not leave, you become even angrier, perhaps trying to access locked doors. You feel an utter lack of control over your situation. Making matters worse, the staff expresses concern that you may become violent as a result of your distress and “for your safety,” escorts you to a locked room so that “you may reflect on your acting out behavior.” You are in isolation. Your anger further increases and you find yourself behaving in ways you could not previously imagine, yelling “let me out” and banging on the only door in a windowless room. You think to yourself, “They will regret this once they let me out of here.” What you (and many other patients placed in similar situations) are experiencing is an impaired sense of belonging, self-esteem, control, and meaningful existence―direct consequences associated with social ostracism (Williams, 2007). In the eyes of an isolated patient, these needs may wrongly be perceived as restorable through aggressive means.

If isolation can promote violent behavior, what should be done to combat violence among distressed psychiatric inpatients? Solutions that prevent violent behavior in the first place may be most successful. Listening to patient complaints in a timely manner is essential. Empathizing with these complaints, helping patients manage their distress, and ensuring patients that their distress is temporary should also be effective.

Read more:

http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/healthday/639936.htmlViolence on the rise at U.S. health care centers (Businessweek)

http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/120185263/abstractWilliams, K.D. (2007). Ostracism: The kiss of social death. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 1, 236-347.

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Mind reading gone awry

There are times when individuals are well synchronized with each other that they can finish each other’s sentences. These interactions seem almost magical in that people understand how each other feels about a topic or event. There are instances however when it is difficult to understand where the miscommunication occurred. How a simple exchange of words could go so wrong is anyone’s guess, but the fact that the individuals made up their mind about the event or another individual can be strikingly clear.

Take the example that the media popularized between an English politician and a political constituent. After a few words relating to political concerns were exchanged, the politician went on his way. Upon entering the vehicle, presumably a safe place to express his personal opinion with a microphone still on, the politician uttered how he perceived his constituent (refer to May 1st post).

One can only imagine how the politician made his conclusion about the interaction. Epley (2008) suggests that misinterpretations are likely to occur when individuals are under high cognitive load, where schemas seem to be the default interpretation of events. Further, Eyal and Epley (2010) suggests that when two strangers interact they seem to focus on different parts of the context (i.e. self or other). In the context of the political concern the constituent focused on the perceived problem, while the politician focused on his constituent. A solution to misunderstandings is to take part in perspective taking and to take more time to reduce the likelihood of biased interpretation (Epley, 2008).

Eyal & Epley (2010). How to Seem Telepathic – Enabling Mind Reading by Matching Construal.

Epley, N. (2008). Solving the (real) other minds problem.

“Me a bigot? No way, I hate them!”

See more: Brown overheard calling voter ‘bigoted’

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