Workplace Wellness

Physicians and burnout: It's getting worse

December 1, 2015

Science Daily/Mayo Clinic
Burnout among U.S. physicians is getting worse. An update from a three-year study evaluating burnout and work-life balance shows that American physicians are worse off today than they were three years earlier. These dimensions remained largely unchanged among U.S. workers in general, resulting in a widening gap between physicians and workers in other fields. The study conducted by Mayo Clinic researchers in partnership with the American Medical Association compared data from 2014 to metrics they collected in 2011 and found that now more than half of U.S. physicians are experiencing professional burnout. The findings appear in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

"Burnout manifests as emotional exhaustion, loss of meaning in work, and feelings of ineffectiveness," says Tait Shanafelt, M.D. "What we found is that more physicians in almost every specialty are feeling this way and that's not good for them, their families, the medical profession, or patients."

The researchers say evidence indicates that burnout leads to poor care, physician turnover and a decline in the overall quality of the health care system. In the 2011 survey 45 percent of physicians met the burnout criteria, with highest rates occurring in the "front lines" -- general internal medicine, family medicine and emergency medicine. In 2014, 54 percent of responding physicians had at least one symptom of burnout. Satisfaction with work-life balance also declined. The survey results were based on 6,880 physicians across the United States, a 19 percent response rate, as well as a population based sample of 5313 working U.S. adults in other fields.

In a snapshot:

•    Physician burnout is up 10 percent over the last three years
•    Burnout rates are up across almost all specialties
•    No overall increase in physician work hours was reported
•    No increase in rates of depression was observed among physicians

Researchers say the problem of physician burnout is largely a system issue and that health care organizations have a shared responsibility in addressing the problem. They say more needs to be done by healthcare organizations to help physicians by improving the efficiency of the practice environment, reducing clerical burden, and providing physicians greater flexibility and control over work.

What must be done:

•    Urgent need for research to provide "evidence-based interventions" addressing burnout, including improving efficiency
•    Factors in the practice or work environment have to change
•    Offering self-help solutions is no longer enough

Science Daily/SOURCE :

Your self-image may influence how you set goals, research shows

December 3, 2015

Science Daily/Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School
The ways that people view themselves have been the focus of recent research. Someone with an “independent” self-image sees himself as distinct from others, while a person with an “interdependent” view of himself aims to fit into the social structure and maintain harmonious relations with others.

You're a careful eater, avoiding high-calorie snacks and meals as a rule. But one day at the lunch counter, instead of ordering the usual salad, you're tempted by a cheeseburger. Will you give in?

The answer, according to a recent study from the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, may be influenced by whether you view yourself as more or less of an independent type, and whether you generally try to be ambitious or maintain the status quo.

It's information that not only could help individuals set goals they may reasonably hope to achieve but also could guide marketers in matching a product to a particular audience.

In their paper, lead author Haiyang Yang of the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School and his two co-authors examine two kinds of "self-construal" -- that is, how people view themselves. Someone with an "independent" self-image sees himself as distinct from others, while a person with an "interdependent" view of himself aims to fit into the social structure and maintain harmonious relations with others.

Additionally, the paper identifies two kinds of goals -- those of "attainment" and of "maintenance." Someone with attainment goals seeks to reach a desired state, by losing weight, for example, or adding to a savings account. A person with maintenance goals would seek to keep his weight and savings account at least at their current levels.

Yang and his colleagues say that while previous studies have looked separately at self-construal and goals, their paper is among the first to look at how the two concepts jointly influence consumer behavior. Through six experiments involving more than 2,000 participants in the United States and China, the researchers found that compared to people with a predominately interdependent self-construal, those with a predominately independent self-construal tend to be motivated more by goals of attainment and the accompanying potential for advancement and distinction. However, the more interdependent individuals tend to be motivated more by maintenance goals that emphasize stability and continuity.

"In one of our studies," Yang said in an interview, "we observed people's real-life bodyweight goal pursuit behaviors (that is, losing vs. maintaining bodyweight) over a period of 13 months. We found that people who had fewer social ties, and hence were more independent, were more likely to set the goal of reducing as opposed to maintaining bodyweight. Further, after people set their weight-management goals, the more independent individuals were more motivated, as measured by the amount of the money they were willing to bet on their success, to pursue weight-loss goals as opposed to weight-maintenance goals."

The researchers also found that appeals to a person's sense of independence or interdependence can influence how goals are set. When study participants were asked about a series of possible actions -- adding to a savings account, losing weight, and increasing their college grade-point averages -- their motivation for attaining a better state was greater when the actions were posed as benefitting them as individuals, as opposed to benefitting their close social groups (relatives and friends). The opposite pattern emerged for the maintenance-goal version of the actions.

Companies should consider these findings when marketing products and services internationally, with an eye to whether the national culture leans toward independence or interdependence, Yang and his co-authors assert. They state in the paper: "Marketing practitioners should consider engineering purchase environments or consumption contexts to activate respective self-construal, nudging consumers toward goals congruent with firms' marketing objectives and hence increasing the likelihood of consumers' adoption of those consumption goals."

The researchers further assert that consumers can practice the same kind of leverage on themselves by matching their goals to their self-construal (as independent or interdependent people) and thus increasing the motivation to bring their actions to successful and satisfying conclusions.

"Pursuing Attainment versus Maintenance Goals: The Interplay of Self-Construal and Goal Type on Consumer Motivation" was written by Haiyang Yang of Johns Hopkins, Antonios Stamatogiannakis of IE Business School, and Amitava Chattopadhyay of INSEAD. The paper was published in June in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Science Daily/SOURCE :

To earn gratitude, put some effort into it

Pay it forward: Small favors can yield large returns

December 7, 2015

Science Daily/University of Southern California
When done with high effort, the trivial courtesy of holding the door for others can inspire a 'thank you' or a favor in return, creating a virtuous cycle of gratitude, research shows.

Their responses appeared to depend on the door holder's effort, according to scientists at the Brain and Creativity Institute at USC. If the door holder made a high effort by making eye contact, smiling and holding open the door, more recipients would say "thank you," researchers found. If the door holder who made a high effort had dropped some pens while trying to hold open the door, the recipient was more likely to stop and help pick them up.

The moral of this study is that "small favors can have a sizable influence on our behavior, inspiring us to spend energy to help others and lending credence to the idea that we have a drive to 'pay it forward,'" said USC neuroscience and psychology researcher Glenn Fox, who led the study published online on Nov. 12 in Frontiers In Psychology.

"This study shows that gratitude has consequences," said Antonio Damasio, director of the BCI and Dornsife Neuroimaging Institute at USC, and professor of psychology and neurology at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

"It is not only the recipient of the act or gift who gains; it is also the doer or giver," Damasio added. "When you are courteous to another person, or when you offer gifts, you are doing something that is good for you. Interestingly, it can be rewarding for yourself, and it can reduce stress. It can actually be good for your health."

For this study, Fox said he wanted to see how a courtesy such as door-holding results in reciprocation ranging from a "thank you" to even larger acts of repayment. To test his hypothesis, USC students involved in the study opened doors for more than 300 strangers as part of two experiments.

In the first study, door holders who made a high effort -- smiling and making eye contact with the strangers they were helping -- were told "thank you" more often than the door holders who behaved passively as they propped open the door with low effort, checking text messages on their cell phones. After the door-holding test, participants were asked by another experimenter to take a time-consuming survey.

Of the 120 study participants, 24 thanked the door holder. Most of those were in cases where door holders made a high effort, the researchers said. "Although the participants in the high-effort condition were not more likely to take the survey than those in the low-effort, our field notes showed they were more polite and cordial when asked about the survey," Fox said.

For the second study, researchers studied whether people will also return the favor somehow. Door holders in this experiment were toting a file box that had 12 pens on top that spilled out sometime after opening the door.

Who said "thank you," and stopped and helped? Again, researchers found the response depended on the door holder's effort.

Ninety-seven participants of 194 thanked the door holders. Most -- more than 84 percent -- were thanking a door holder who made a high effort.

Fifty-four of the 194 participants helped the door holders pick up their pens. Most participants -- 64 percent -- were helping door holders who had made a high effort, versus 19 percent who assisted door holders who had made a low effort.

The findings were two-fold: The study shows a small favor can inspire reciprocal acts. At the same time, researchers recognized that people do not feel obligated to say "thank you" or help, even when they have received a favor. "We see for the first time that verbal thanking and reciprocal helping are not inherently correlated," the researchers noted.

The study raises several other questions. Researchers said other studies should examine how eye contact, the type of favor and other such factors may influence recipients' responses.
Science Daily/SOURCE :

Breaking bread with colleagues boosts productivity

December 7, 2015

Science Daily/Cornell University
Plenty of companies invest big money to provide their employees with upscale workplace eateries or at least catered meals. But are those companies getting a good return on their investment? According to a new study, the answer is yes.

Plenty of companies invest big money to provide their employees with upscale workplace eateries or at least catered meals. But are those companies getting a good return on their investment? According to a new Cornell University study, the answer is yes.
Credit: Cornell University Food and Brand Lab

In research that could have implications for organizations looking to enhance team performance, Cornell professors found that firefighter platoons who eat meals together have better group job performance compared with firefighter teams who dine solo.

"Eating together is a more intimate act than looking over an Excel spreadsheet together. That intimacy spills back over into work," said the study's author, Kevin Kniffin, visiting assistant professor in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. "From an evolutionary anthropology perspective, eating together has a long, primal tradition as a kind of social glue. That seems to continue in today's workplaces."

Given the findings, organizations would do better to consider their expenditures on cafeterias as investments in employee performance, Kniffin said.

"Eating Together at the Firehouse: How Workplace Commensality Relates to the Performance of Firefighters" appears in the current issue of Human Performance and is featured in the Harvard Business Review's December issue.

Over the course of 15 months, Kniffin and his colleagues conducted interviews and surveys in a large city's fire department, which included more than 50 firehouses. The researchers asked the department's 395 supervisors to rate on a scale of zero to 10 the performance of their platoon compared to other fire companies in which they've served. The supervisors were also asked how often the platoon eats together in a typical four-day work week. The platoons who ate together most often also got higher marks for their team performance. Conversely, the platoons that did not eat together got lower performance ratings.

In interviews, firefighters said daily group meals were a central activity during their shifts. Some firefighters who worked a shift that started at 6 p.m. often ate two dinners, one at home and a second at the firehouse. One firefighter said, in the company of his co-workers, "you don't want to dis the wife" by turning down the food she prepared -- implying that it was just as important to avoid disrespecting his co-workers. "To me, that's a good example of the importance of the group. It's comparable to his family," said Kniffin, whose father was a longtime big-city firefighter.

In fact, the researchers noted, firefighters expressed a certain embarrassment when asked about firehouses where they didn't eat together. "It was basically a signal that something deeper was wrong with the way the group worked," Kniffin said.
Science Daily/SOURCE :

Best crisis managers are not what you would expect

January 8, 2016

Science Daily/British Psychological Society (BPS)
The most effective crisis managers show strong preferences for variety at work and keep their cool when operating outside of their comfort zones. Those who demonstrate more self-discipline and stick to the rules are considered less effective at dealing with a crisis.

These are the findings from research presented by Chartered Psychologist Christine D'Silva, from assessment consultancy Cubiks at the annual conference of the British Psychological Society's Division of Occupational Psychology in Nottingham.

Lead researcher Christine D'Silva said: "In a crisis situation, things change at a rapid pace, with new information arriving at any time.

Decisions that have far reaching consequences need to be made within short timeframes. Our research, using simulations to recreate these stressful and tense scenarios, suggests that those who retain their cool whilst operating outside their comfort zones, and are comfortable with ambiguous situations, are more effective crisis managers."

The research, a preliminary and exploratory study, was established to determine whether psychological assessments such as PAPI could be of benefit in selecting and training candidates for a role in crisis management. 82 participants took part in disaster simulation exercises and were asked to complete a series of personality questionnaires. Then they were assessed on their performance by experts.

The results from the study confirm that personality assessment can make a useful contribution to identifying and training crisis management personnel. The key areas to assess are leadership, extraversion and emotional stability. Furthermore, specific predictor scales, including those assessing 'variety seeking', 'self-discipline' and 'need for rules' enhance prognosis.

Christine D'Silva said: "In our strained world, the threat of attack on organisations and public safety is ever present. The potential threats to life and livelihood posed by natural disasters, man made errors and acts of terrorism appear to be well appreciated. Until now, the calibre of the person who is most suited to managing these unpredictable situations has been less well understood."

Science Daily/SOURCE :

Modern office environment makes most people uncomfortable

January 8, 2016

Science Daily/British Psychological Society (BPS)
Personality has a big impact on the type of office environment people prefer to work in. Modern features such as hot-desking and open-plan floors appeal mainly to extraverted workers with others finding them uncomfortable.

This is one of the findings of a study by John Hackston, Head of Research at business psychologists OPP, who presents his findings today, Friday 8 January 2016, at the British Psychological Society Division of Occupational Psychology's annual conference in Nottingham.

John Hackston said: "Despite changes in technology many people still work in an office. Understanding how personality interacts with the office environment is key to improving job satisfaction and productivity.

Over 300 people (71 per cent female and average age 47 years) completed an online survey about their current office environments. The participants had previously completed a personality test to ascertain their personality type.

The results showed that many features of the modern office were much more likely to be preferred by extraverts than by introverts. Extraverts were significantly happier at work and had higher levels of job satisfaction. Personality differences were also shown to be behind areas of conflict in the office, such as people's reactions to the idea of a clear desk policy. Some features were desired by almost everyone, such as having your own desk and working area, having well-designed workplaces and having 'quiet areas' available. Others, such as desk-sharing or hot-desking, were disliked by most people.

John Hackston said: "These results support previous research into the unpopularity of open-plan offices and hot-desking and the positive effects of personalisation. However, there are some simple changes that can be made to improve staff satisfaction and increase productivity.

"These include allowing staff more storage for personal items when hot-desking; creating smaller neighbourhoods within open-plan offices; not overdoing clear desk policies as clearing away all personal items can be demotivating to some people and providing quiet zones for people to work in when needed."

Science Daily/SOURCE :

When the boss's ethical behavior breaks bad

February 12, 2016

Science Daily/Michigan State University
Is your boss ethical? Does he or she do what's right, as opposed to what's profitable? If so, they may turn downright abusive the next day. New research on leader behavior suggests ethical conduct leads to mental exhaustion and the "moral licensing" to lash out at employees.
New research on leader behavior by Russell Johnson, associate professor of management at Michigan State University, suggests ethical conduct leads to mental exhaustion and the "moral licensing" to lash out at employees.

The study, online in the Journal of Applied Psychology, is called "When ethical leader behavior breaks bad: How ethical behavior can turn abusive via ego depletion and moral licensing." Moral licensing is a phenomenon in which people, after doing something good, feel they have earned the right to act in a negative manner.

"Ironically, when leaders felt mentally fatigued and morally licensed after displays of ethical behavior, they were more likely to be abusive toward their subordinates on the next day," said Johnson, an expert on the psychology of the workplace.

Johnson and MSU students Szu-Han Lin and Jingjing Ma surveyed 172 supervisors over a several-day period in various industries including retail, education, manufacturing and health care. The goal: examine the consequences of ethical behavior for the leaders who exhibited it.

Johnson said it's not easy to be ethical, as it turns out. "Being ethical means leaders often have to suppress their own self-interest (they must do 'what's right' as opposed to 'what's profitable'), and they have to monitor not only the performance outcomes of subordinates but also the means (to ensure that ethical/appropriate practices were followed)."

Ethical behavior led to mental fatigue and moral licensing, and this led to leaders being more abusive to their workers. The abuse included ridiculing, insulting and expressing anger toward employees, giving them the silent treatment and reminding them of past mistakes or failures.

To combat mental fatigue, Johnson said managers should build in time for breaks during the workday; get sufficient sleep; eat healthy and exercise; and unplug from work outside of the office (which includes shutting off the smart phone at night).

Dealing with moral licensing is trickier, as there is not much research on the subject. However, Johnson suggested companies could consider formally requiring ethical behavior. "If such behavior is required, then it's more difficult for people to feel they've earned credit for performing something that is mandatory," he said. "A sense of moral license is more likely when people feel they voluntarily or freely exhibited the behavior."

Ethical behavior could also be formally rewarded with social praise or money. But the praise or bonus should come relatively soon after the ethical behavior in order to counteract the moral licensing, Johnson said.

Science Daily/SOURCE :

Research reveals workplace interventions to combat burnout, work-related stress

March 7, 2016

Science Daily/Leeds Beckett University
A report has reviewed the most effective ways to treat and prevent burnout and work-related stress, and revealed organizational interventions in the workplace may be more effective than individual interventions alone.

The report, commissioned by Public Health England and prepared by the Centre for Health Promotion Research at Leeds Beckett, provides an overview of how individual and workplace interventions can prevent burnout and work-related stress.

The review is one of four commissioned by Public Health England exploring priority -- but generally under-explored -- issues around health, work and unemployment.

Findings from the report suggest that:

• Interventions designed to reduce symptoms and impact on burnout and work-related stress were conducted more often at an individual or small-group level than at an organisational level.

• Individual level interventions that can reduce burnout include staff training, workshops and cognitive-behavioural programmes.

• Changing aspects of an organisation's culture and working practices might be considered alongside individual level interventions to more effectively prevent burnout.

• Changes to workload or working practices appear to reduce stressors and factors that can lead to burnout.

• Evidence suggests that organisational interventions produce longer-lasting effects than individual approaches.

• Organisational interventions in the workplace may be more effective than individual interventions alone.

• Combining individual and organisational level approaches includes a system change that adopts a participatory environment, promotes open communication, manager and peer support, a culture of learning and successful participation of employees in planning and implementation of programmes.

Estimates from the Labour Force Survey in 2013-14 suggested that the total number of cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety accounts for 39% of all cases of work-related illnesses. Occupations with the highest reported rates of work-related stress were health professionals (in particular nurses), teaching and education professionals and caring personal services (in particular welfare and housing associate professionals).

Dr James Woodall, Reader in Health Promotion at Leeds Beckett, said: "Although there is existing evidence on what works to treat burnout and work-related stress, there is less on what works to prevent it from occurring in the first place.

"In undertaking this research, we found some evidence that individual interventions including staff training, workshops and cognitive-behavioural programmes can reduce burnout. There is also some evidence to suggest that organisational interventions, such as changes to workload or working practices, produce longer-lasting reductions in stressors and factors that can lead to burnout than individual approaches.

"We found that most existing research focused on large-scale organisations with few examples of interventions in small or medium-sized working environments. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) account for 59.3% of private sector employment in the UK, therefore further research is needed to determine what works in small to medium-sized workplaces."

Dr Anne-Marie Bagnall, Reader in the School of Health & Wellbeing at Leeds Beckett, added: "Understanding how burnout and work-related stress can be prevented and treated in workplaces is of great importance both from a public health perspective and for businesses aiming to reduce absenteeism and increase productivity.

"Workplace health and worklessness are a corporate priority for Public Health England (PHE), as employment is a wider determinant of health. Burnout is associated with adverse health outcomes associated with stress, such as depression, musculoskeletal pain, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and premature mortality."

Dr Justin Varney, Interim Deputy Director for Health & Wellbeing (Healthy People), Public Health England, said: "This evidence review highlights workplaces as a key setting for improving people's mental and physical health, as well as their overall wellbeing. Having a healthy workforce can reduce sickness absence, lower staff turnover and boost productivity. Employers can't afford to wait until staff burnout happens; it is in their interest to implement healthy interventions which can prevent the main causes of it, including stress and musculoskeletal conditions."

Science Daily/SOURCE :


How shift work effect cognitive functions

May 17, 2016

Science Daily/Uppsala University
A new study shows that compared to non-shift workers, shift workers needed more time to complete a test that is frequently used by physicians to screen for cognitive impairment. However, those who had quit shift work more than five years ago completed the test just as quick as the non-shift workers.

By utilizing data from around 7000 individuals participating in the Swedish cohort study EpiHealth, researchers from Uppsala University and Malmö University sought to examine whether shift work history would be linked to performance. The test that was used is called the "Trail Making Test," which consists of two parts. Part A requires participants to connect circles labeled with numbers 1-25 in an ascending order. In part B, participants must alternate between numbers and letters in an ascending order. Time to complete these tests has been shown to increase with age.

'Our results indicate that shift work is linked to poorer performance on a test that is frequently used to screen for cognitive impairment in humans', says Christian Benedict, associate professor at the Department of Neuroscience at Uppsala University and corresponding author of the study.

'The poorer performance was only observed in current shift workers and those who worked shifts during the past 5 years. In contrast, no difference was observed between non-shift workers and those who had quit shift work more than 5 years ago. The latter could suggest that it may take at least 5 years for previous shift workers to recover brain functions that are relevant to the performance on this test', says Christian Benedict.

Science Daily/SOURCE :

Dull and dirty: Your workplace could affect brain function

June 16, 2016

Science Daily/Florida State University
Both a lack of stimulation in the workplace and a dirty working environment can have a long-term cognitive effect on employees, new research indicates.

"Psychologists say that the brain is a muscle, while industrial hygienists point to chemicals in the work environment that may cause decline," said Joseph Grzywacz, the Norejane Hendrickson Professor of Family and Child Sciences and lead researcher on the study.

"There are real things in the workplace that can shape cognitive function: some that you can see or touch, and others you can't. We showed that both matter to cognitive health in adulthood."

In the past, researchers had been divided on whether it was working in an unclean workplace -- facing exposure to agents such as mold, lead or loud noises -- or working in an unstimulating environment that took the biggest toll on brain health as people aged.

This new study is significant because it showed both can play an important role in long-term cognitive well-being.

Grzywacz' findings are published in the June issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Grzywacz and his team obtained cognitive function data from working adults participating in the Midlife in the United States study. Their results had two major takeaways: One was that greater occupational complexity -- that is the learning of new skills and taking on new challenges -- resulted in stronger cognitive performance particularly for women as they aged.

The second result was that men and women who had jobs that exposed them to a dirty working environment saw a cognitive decline.

"Both of these issues are important when we think about the long-term health of men and women," said Grzywacz, who also serves as the chair of the Department of Family and Child Sciences.

Grzywacz and colleagues analyzed the data to examine individuals' workplaces and their ability to maintain and later use information they learned. They also looked at their executive functioning skills such as their ability to complete tasks, manage time and pay attention. Additionally, the data included responses from participants asking them about any memory issues they were experiencing.

"The practical issue here is cognitive decline associated with aging and the thought of, 'if you don't use it, you lose it,'" Grzywacz said. "Designing jobs to ensure that all workers have some decision making ability may protect cognitive function later in life, but it's also about cleaning up the workplace."

The data included 4,963 adults ages 32 to 84 from the 48 contiguous states. The sample was 47 percent male and 53 percent female.

Science Daily/SOURCE :

Power causes distrust

June 16, 2016

Science Daily/Leiden, Universiteit
When leaders punish subordinates, they often do this out of distrust. They are afraid of losing their position and use punishment as a deterrent. However, their punishments are not very effective, says a social and organizational psychologist.

Distrust is the main reason why leaders impose punishments on the people over whom they have power. This is clearly demonstrated by Marlon Mooijman's PhD research. 'Leaders expect other people not to obey the rules, and punish them on the basis of this distrust.' Ironically, it turns out that these punishments are not very effective and perhaps even exacerbate the situation, continues Mooijman. 'When people feel distrusted, they are less likely to obey the rules. They see this assumption on the part of the leaders as a sign of disrespect. It also violates an implicit social contract: 'If you treat me well, I will act accordingly.''

Acting out of fear

'Leaders are people who control valuable resources. A manager can decide whether an employee gets a bonus, for instance. A judge can decide whether or not someone keeps their freedom.' But why are leaders so distrustful? Mooijman suggests that they are afraid of losing their power, and act out of the desire to protect that power. 'Leaders are afraid that if they are too trusting of others, this trust can be abused. This would then, of course, threaten their position.'

Plagiarism and fraud

The consequence is that leaders mainly use punishment as a deterrent, to ensure that similar rule breaking never happens again. Unfortunately, punishments of this kind do not have the desired effect. 'We see that some power systems can actually exacerbate the problems.' This particularly relates to issues such as unethical behaviour, plagiarism and fraud.

Manipulating the sense of power

Mooijman asked people with power to complete questionnaires. He also conducted experiments in the Faculty lab with groups of students, who were temporarily assigned to a manager position. 'I also manipulated their sense of having power. Students were asked to write about an incident in which they felt very powerful, or conversely very powerless. They then had to decide how someone who had committed plagiarism should be punished. Students who had been made to feel powerful were found to favour punishments designed to make an example of the offenders. The deterrent aspect was important, and some were even prepared to publicly name the people who had committed plagiarism.'

Financial crisis

Compliance with rules is important in society. An example is the recent financial crisis, which was caused by rule breaking. Mooijman: 'This is why it's important to know when power structures help to prevent unethical behaviour. My research makes a contribution to this.'

Science Daily/SOURCE :

Study explores emotional intelligence and stress in social work

June 27, 2016

Science Daily/University of East Anglia
Realistic workloads and ongoing emotional support are essential if social workers are to manage stress and perform their job effectively, according to new research. The study examined the relationship between emotional intelligence -- the ability to identify and manage emotions in oneself and others -- stress, burnout and social work practice. It also assessed whether emotional intelligence training for social workers would reduce their burnout rates over time.

The study by the Centre for Research on Children and Families (CRCF) examined the relationship between emotional intelligence -- the ability to identify and manage emotions in oneself and others -- stress, burnout and social work practice. It also assessed whether emotional intelligence training for social workers would reduce their burnout rates over time.

It is known that the rate of work related stress and burnout among social workers is high compared to similar professions. This contributes to high vacancy rates, particularly in the areas of child care, young people and families, which has consequences for colleagues and those the service is trying to help.

Emotional intelligence training is offered by some local authorities but there is little consistent evidence to show the benefits of such interventions on practice. This UEA study involved 209 child and family social workers across eight local authorities in England. The researchers found that the training received overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants, but it did not show any statistically significant effect on stress and burnout after the training. One possible reason for little effect of training on stress and burnout is that few participants used the training tools in practice. The researchers suggest that embedding training and follow-ups into supervision systems is likely to improve the transfer of training into practice.

Key organisational predictors of stress and burnout were: work demands, resource provision, training provision, leader and peer support. The key psychological predictor of stress and burnout was emotional intelligence.

The researchers recommend that if social workers are to be most effective, it is essential that they have realistic workloads and good administrative support, and that the demands for more recording and regulation should come with provision of sufficient resources.

The findings are presented in a report launched at CRCF's annual conference in London. Entitled 'Emotional intelligence, and burnout in child and family social work: implications for policy and practice', it makes recommendations for policymakers, local authorities and social workers about how to manage stress and burnout in the profession. The three-year project was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Lead author Dr Laura Biggart, a lecturer in social science research and psychology, said social workers are meant to get reflective supervision -- talking with others about their own experiences to improve the way they work -- but this often gets squeezed out by other demands.

"The study confirmed that social work is an emotionally demanding profession, suggesting that particular attention should be given by social work employers to the workplace environment and social worker support," said Dr Biggart. "Workload is an issue for all authorities and the emotional demands of this type of work need to be taken into account. Finding ways to reduce stress at work would have benefits for employees, employers and service users.

"Social workers have a positive role to play in the lives of children from troubled and abusive backgrounds. Many young people themselves speak positively about the help they have received from their social workers. In order to sustain social workers in post and make the most of the economic investment made in them through training and post-qualifying experience, policy makers need to take account of the emotional demands of this profession, alongside workload issues."

The report's key recommendations include:

•    Acknowledging the emotional demands in social work and strategies for managing these should be provided within qualifying social work training and continuing professional development.
•    Senior managers should ensure there are clear systems to hear the views of social workers about workload issues and to provide feedback as to what action has been taken to address such issues.
•    Senior managers need to establish regular systems to monitor stress in their workplace and involve their team managers and social workers in finding solutions to workload issues and improving the workplace environment.
•    Team managers should ensure that social workers have the opportunity for reflective supervision.
•    Team members should be encouraged to jointly problem solve on complex issues/cases.
•    For social workers, a range of effective coping strategies are outlined.

Dr Biggart said: "The role of child and family social workers involves witnessing trauma and neglect and the consequences of these on vulnerable children and families. They are increasingly working in settings where resources are often restricted and work in frequently changing organisational structures with consequent changes in team membership.

"Given the emotional demands of the social work role, enhancing emotional intelligence resources could be one way of providing social workers with the skills required to cope with these various, and potentially stressful, issues."

Science Daily/SOURCE :

Narcissistic superior can be a good leader

June 27, 2016

Science Daily/University of Vaasa
Narcissistic leaders seem to get good assessments from their subordinates, new research shows. However, it was noticed that the more narcissistic features the leader had the less time he/she had been in the position. The results also show that the narcissistic leaders don’t seem to suffer from burnout symptoms.

According to a new study from the University of Vaasa the narcissistic leaders seem to get good assessments from their subordinates. However, it was noticed that the more narcissistic features the leader had the less time he/she had been in the position. The results also show that the narcissistic leaders don't seem to suffer from burnout symptoms.

M.Sc Hanna Peltokangas studies in her dissertation the association between leaders' personality, job performance and burnout.

The dissertation takes a psychological perspective on leadership because also leaders may behave irrationally, have personality problems or neuroses, and many unnoticed forces may affect their behavior. Peltokangas points out that it is a different thing to explain a behavior than just describe it.

"Therefore the underlying mental activity, anxieties, personality, and defenses should be evaluated and not just focus on traits that are very easy to observe even in a stranger," Peltokangas says.

Work performance can be predicted

The leader's work performance can be predicted if the assessment process is made with good assessment methods. According to Peltokangas, the organizations would have less problems if they would stress the assessment process more.

However, it should be noticed that the leader's performance and personality should always fit to the environment. It should be taken into consideration that there are different demands and challenges in different organizations and positions.

Data was collected with the psychological personality assessment methods.

Peltokangas has collected the data with different personality tests. The main assessment methods were Work Personality Inventory, WOPI and Rorschach inkpot test and it's contemporary analysis method Comprehensive System (RCS).

There were totally 96 leaders and 203 subordinates in this study.

Do narcissism and leadership go hand in hand?

The media gives the impression that almost all the leaders have narcissistic features. According to this study, there are more narcissistic persons among leaders than in other occupations but it is exaggeration to say that narcissism and leadership would go hand in hand.

Surprisingly, the results supported the view that the more narcissism-like features the leader possessed, the better the performance. Because of this unexpected result, the topic was investigated more deeply and it was found that the more reflection answers the leaders recorded, the less time they had served in their current position.

"Based on this study it seems that narcissistic leaders' performances might be good only because they had been in their positions for very short periods and had made good first impressions," Peltokangas says.

From the burnout perspective it was interesting to notice that the narcissistic leaders don't seem to suffer from burnout symptoms. On the other hand, very creative leaders may experience more burnout symptoms than the other leaders.

The results of this study offer some practical implications that should be taken into consideration for example in the recruitment and coaching processes. However, as Peltokangas points out, it is important to remember the recommendation about using multi-method tools, so no method should be used alone but as part of the method toolkit.
Science Daily/SOURCE :

Truth to age-old maxim 'work hard, play hard'

June 29, 2016

Science Daily/Queen's University
A biology professor has published a study that, for the first time, provides strong empirical support for a correlation between a motivation to seek accomplishment and an attraction to leisure.
The maxim "work hard, play hard" -- which can be traced back to at least 1827 -- has long been used to express an implied connection between dedicated effort and having fun. Yet, until now, any statistical link between the two had never been quantified.
Credit: © meal_meaw / Fotolia

"I've been interested for quite a while in two motivations that people seem to display -- one I call legacy drive and one I call leisure drive," says Dr. Aarssen.

The maxim "work hard, play hard" -- which can be traced back to at least 1827 -- has long been used to express an implied connection between dedicated effort and having fun. Yet, despite its status as a trope in Western society, any statistical link between the two had never been quantified. Dr. Aarssen, along with undergraduate student Laura Crimi, conducted a survey of over 1,400 undergraduate students at Queen's. Participants were asked to identify their age, gender, religious affiliation and cultural background. They were then asked a series of questions to determine their attraction to religion, parenthood, accomplishment or fame, and recreation.

While some degree of correlation was seen between most of the factors listed, there was a particularly strong correlation between attraction to both legacy and leisure activities; those inclined to 'work hard' tend also to 'play hard.'

The results also suggest three distinct groupings of individuals based on their strongest motivational factors. Group one represented relatively apathetic types -- those who displayed relatively weak attraction to parenthood, religion, work and leisure. Group two distinguished themselves through high attraction to both religion and parenthood with moderate attraction to accomplishment and leisure. Group three, the highly motivated "go-getters," were highly attracted to parenthood as well as to accomplishment and leisure.

Dr. Aarssen suggests that the "work hard, play hard" motivation could serve an evolutionary purpose in humans, by presenting a means to divert our attention from our own mortality.

"We, unlike any other animals, are aware and concerned about our own self-impermanence," Dr. Aarssen says. "Legacy drive and leisure drive have potential to explain our ability to buffer this anxiety. Between these two drives, our ancestors were able to distract from their own self-impermanence, allowing them to cope with the anxiety and thus minimize its potential negative impact on reproductive success."

Science Daily/SOURCE :

Workplace climate, not women's 'nature,' responsible for gender-based job stress

July 12, 2016

Science Daily/Indiana University
A study by a sociologist subjected both men and women to the negative social conditions that many women report experiencing in male-dominated occupations. The result: men showed the same physiological stress response to the conditions as did women.

But why? Is it something about women or something about the workplace? A study by an Indiana University sociologist suggests it's the latter.

Cate Taylor, assistant professor of sociology and gender studies at IU Bloomington, designed and carried out an experiment that subjected both men and women to the negative social conditions that many women report experiencing in male-dominated occupations. The result: Men showed the same physiological stress response to the conditions as did women.

"Women are not especially sensitive to negative workplace social conditions," Taylor said. "Rather, both women and men exhibit similar responses to the same types of stressful workplace conditions."

The article, "'Relational by Nature?' Men and Women Do Not Differ in Physiological Response to Social Stressors Faced by Token Women," appears in the July 2016 issue of the American Journal of Sociology and is now available online.

The study focuses on what Taylor calls "gendered social exclusion," behavior that would tend to make "token" women or men feel excluded from a group of mostly opposite-sex coworkers. For example, men might exclude female co-workers by talking constantly about sports or other stereotypically male interests.

It addresses the question of whether, as some observers have suggested, women are simply more sensitive to such exclusion: if they are "relational by nature" and respond more strongly than men to being shut out of social interaction in the workplace.

Taylor recruited undergraduate research assistants, called "confederates," and trained them extensively to manage peer-to-peer conversations in a laboratory setting. Study participants were also undergraduates recruited on a university campus.

To determine the effect of gendered social exclusion, Taylor placed female study participants in experimental groups with three male confederates and male study participants in groups with three female confederates. The confederates were trained to make the study participants feel excluded by talking about stereotypically masculine topics (sports, video games and a class in business statistics) or stereotypically feminine topics (shopping, yoga and Pilates, and a class in child development) and by subtly excluding the participants from the conversations. She compared the stress response of these participants with the stress response of participants in groups made up of members of the same sex that did not use conversation to make the participants feel excluded.

In order to measure stress response, at several points during the experiment, Taylor measured levels of the hormone cortisol in the participants' saliva -- a known indicator of physiological stress response. Cortisol levels rose markedly in participants subjected to gendered exclusion but not in the other participants.

"The cortisol response was robust, and it was statistically significant," Taylor said. And it was just as strong in men who were subjected to gendered exclusion as in women who were subjected to gendered social exclusion.

The results suggest that conditions associated with male-dominated professions are what cause token women to report experiencing high levels of stress in the workplace, Taylor said. The answer isn't to "fix" the women by teaching them to be less sensitive, because when women and men are exposed to the exact same social conditions, they actually have the same stress response. A better answer might be to address the workplace social exclusion faced by minorities in their occupations.

And the findings matter, Taylor said. For one thing, exposure to chronic physiological stress response, indicated by cortisol response, has been found to be associated with negative health effects, including heart disease, digestive problems, weight gain and depression.

For another, both stress and exclusion from important workplace social networks and mentorship may be significant factors in preventing women from getting or keeping jobs in male-dominated occupations. Male-dominated occupations, on average, have higher pay and prestige and better working conditions than mixed-sex or female-dominated occupations. Taylor said the under-representation of women in male-dominated occupations is a significant factor behind the gender wage gap. On average, women earn only 78 cents for every dollar earned by men.

"If the workplace climate were less unfriendly, we might see more women in these male-dominated occupations, and we might see more parity in pay," she said. "That would be good for women and good for families."

Science Daily/SOURCE :

More than four in 10 working adults think their work impacts their health

Most say their workplace is supportive of actions to improve their health

July 12, 2016

Science Daily/Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
A new poll finds that more than four in 10 working adults (44 percent) say their current job has an impact on their overall health, and one in four (28 percent) say that impact is positive.

However, in the survey of more than 1,600 workers in the U.S., one in six workers (16%) report that their current job has a negative impact on their health. Workers most likely to say their job has a negative impact on their overall health include those with disabilities (35%), those in dangerous jobs (27%), those in low-paying jobs (26%), those working 50+ hours per week (25%), and those working in the retail sector (26%).

A number of working adults also report that their job has a negative impact on their levels of stress (43%), eating habits (28%), sleeping habits (27%), and weight (22%). "The takeaway here is that job number one for U.S. employers is to reduce stress in the workplace," said Robert J. Blendon, Richard L. Menschel Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who directed the survey.

View the complete poll findings:

Key Findings

Do you think your current job is good or bad for your [INSERT ITEM], or does it not have an impact one way or another?

Responses: Stress Level: bad impact, 43%, no impact, 39%, good impact, 16%;

Eating Habits: bad impact, 28%, no impact, 56%, good impact, 15%;

Sleeping Habits: bad impact, 27%, no impact, 55%, good impact, 17%;

Weight: bad impact, 22%, no impact, 57%, good impact, 19%

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% because Don't Know/Refused responses are not shown.

Chemicals and contaminants top list of biggest health concerns in the workplace

About one in five working adults (22%) say that something at their job may be harmful to their health, including 43% of construction or outdoor workers and 34% of workers in medical jobs.

Among workers with any health concerns about their workplace, the most frequently cited health concerns mentioned are chemicals and other contaminants (30%), unhealthy air (13%), accidents or injuries (12%), and stress (11%).

About one in four workers rate their workplace as fair or poor in providing a healthy work environment; about half are offered wellness or health improvement programs

About one in four workers (24%) rate their workplace as only fair or poor in providing a healthy work environment; however, 34% give their workplace a rating of excellent. About half (51%) say their workplace offers any formal wellness or health improvement programs to help keep themselves healthy.

"Every year, U.S. businesses lose more than $225 billion because of sick and absent workers," said Robert Wood Johnson President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey. "But I believe that business drives culture change and with them on board we can succeed in building a Culture of Health in America. It's not a hard connection to make. In many companies as much as 50 percent of profits are eaten up by health care costs."

Nearly half of all workers (45%) rate their workplace as only fair or poor in providing healthy food options. Over half of workers in factory or manufacturing jobs (55%), medical jobs (52%), retail outlets (52%), and construction or outdoor jobs (51%) give their workplace a fair or poor rating at providing healthy food options.

A majority of 'workaholics' say they work longer hours because it is important to their career; half say they enjoy working longer hours.

About one in five working adults (19%) say they work 50 or more hours per week in their main job; these workers are called 'workaholics' in this study. When given a list of possible reasons why they work 50+ hours per week, a majority of these workers (56%) say they do so because it's important for their career to work longer hours, 50% say they enjoy doing so, and just 37% say they do it because they need the money.

A majority of working adults say they still go to work when they are sick

A majority (55%) of working adults say they still go to work always or most of the time when they have a cold or the flu, including more than half (60%) of those who work in medical jobs and half (50%) of restaurant workers.

Types of workers who are most likely to still go to work always or most of the time when they are sick include those working 50+ hours per week in their main job (70%), those working two or more jobs (68%), workers in low-paying jobs (65%), and younger workers ages 18-29 (60%).

Low-wage workers often face worse conditions than high-wage workers

Working adults in self-reported low-paying jobs often report worse working conditions than those in high-paying jobs. For instance, more than four in ten workers in low-paying jobs report facing potentially dangerous situations at work (45% vs. 33% in high-paying jobs), and almost two-thirds (65% vs. 48% in high-paying jobs) say they still go to work always or most of the time when they are sick.

One in four workers in low-paying jobs (26%) say their job has a negative impact on their overall health, compared to just 14% of those in high-paying jobs. "In an era of concern about low-wage workers, it's clear they face more negative health impacts from their jobs compared to those who are paid substantially more," said Blendon.

Science Daily/SOURCE :

Music at work increases cooperation, teamwork

August 23, 2016

Science Daily/Cornell University
Music can have important effects on the cooperative spirits of those exposed to music, researchers report. A new article describes two studies they conducted to test the effect of different types of music on the cooperative behavior of individuals working as a team.
Cornell University researchers found that music can have important effects on the cooperative spirits of those exposed to music.
Credit: Cornell University

From casual acoustic melodies at the coffee shop to throbbing electronic beats at teen clothing outlets, music is used to mold customer experience and behavior. But what impact does it have on employees?

Cornell University researchers explored this question in a pair of lab experiments and found that music can have important effects on the cooperative spirits of those exposed to music.

In the paper newly published by the Journal of Organizational Behavior, Cornell researchers Kevin Kniffin, Jubo Yan, Brian Wansink and William Schulze describe two studies they conducted to test the effect of different types of music on the cooperative behavior of individuals working as a team.

For each study, participants were grouped into teams of three. Each team member was given multiple opportunities to either contribute to the team's value using tokens or keep the tokens for personal use.

When happy, upbeat music was played -- researchers chose the "Happy Days" theme song, "Brown Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison, "Yellow Submarine" by the Beatles and "Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves -- team members were more likely to contribute to the group's value. When music deemed unpleasant was played -- in this case, heavy metal songs by less than well-known bands -- participants were more likely to keep tokens for themselves. The researchers found contribution levels to the public good when happy, upbeat songs were played were approximately one-third higher compared to the less pleasant music.

When researchers conducted a second experiment testing how people react when no music is played, the results were the same. The researchers conclude that happy music provokes people to more often make decisions that contribute to the good of the team.

"Music is a pervasive part of much of our daily lives, whether we consciously notice it or not," said Kniffin, a behavioral scientist at Cornell and lead author on the paper. "Music might melt into the background in places like supermarkets or gyms and other times it's very prominent like places of worship or presidential nominating conventions. Our results show that people seem more likely to get into sync with each other if they're listening to music that has a steady beat to it."

Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, added: "What's great about these findings, other than having a scientific reason to blast tunes at work, is that happy music has the power to make the workplace more cooperative and supportive overall."

The researchers suggest managers consider not only the customer experience but also workers' when picking the day's music. Starting the day with this simple consideration in mind could result in happier employees and more teamwork.

"Lots of employers spend significant sums of time and money on off-site teambuilding exercises to build cooperation among employees. Our research points to the office sound system as a channel that has been underappreciated as a way to inspire cooperation among co-workers," said Kniffin.

Science Daily/SOURCE :

Women do ask for pay rises but don’t get them

September 5, 2016

Science Daily/University of Warwick
New research shows that women ask for wage rises just as often as men, but men are 25 per cent more likely to get a raise when they ask.

Using a randomly chosen sample of 4,600 workers across more than 800 employers, the research is the first to do a statistical test of the idea that women get paid less because they are not as pushy as men. The researchers found no support for the theory.

The authors of the study "Do Women Ask?" also examined the claim that female employees hold back for fear of upsetting their boss, and again found no evidence for this theory either.

Co-author Andrew Oswald, Professor of Economics and Behavioural Science at the University of Warwick said: "We didn't know how the numbers would come out. Having seen these findings, I think we have to accept that there is some element of pure discrimination against women."

Various ideas have previously been suggested as to why women might be reluctant to ask for an increase in their pay packet. These include: women don't want to deviate from a perceived female stereotype, and they may fear being less popular at work.

Co-author Dr Amanda Goodall at Cass Business School said: "Ours is the first proper test of the reticent-female theory, and the evidence doesn't stand up."

When like-for-like men and women were compared, the men were a quarter more likely to be successful, obtaining a pay increase 20 per cent of the time. Only 16 per cent of females were successful when they asked.

The research uses data gathered in the Australian Workplace Relations Survey (AWRS) which covers the period 2013-14 which is a representative sample of Australian employees and workplaces. Professor Oswald said: "We realised that Australia was the natural test bed, because it is the only country in the world to collect systematic information on whether employees have asked for a rise."

The survey has the distinctive feature that it asks individuals a set of questions about whether their pay is set by negotiation with the company, whether they have successfully obtained a wage rise since joining the employer, whether they preferred not to attempt to negotiate a pay rise because they were concerned about their relationships, why they decided that, and about their levels of job satisfaction.

Using statistical methods, the authors' analysis shows that it is crucial to adjust for the number of hours worked (because part-time workers feel hesitant to 'ask'). The analysis also took into account the nature of the employer, the industry, and the characteristics and qualifications of workers.

Despite the dispiriting findings, the authors pinpointed one encouraging sign in the data -- young Australian female employees get pay hikes just as often as young Australian men.

Dr Goodall said: "This study potentially has an upside. Young women today are negotiating their pay and conditions more successfully than older females, and perhaps that will continue as they become more senior."

Science Daily/SOURCE :

Employees of medical centers report high stress, negative health behaviors

September 8, 2016

Science Daily/Mayo Clinic
Approximately 15 to 20 percent of adults in the U.S. will report high levels of stress, several American surveys have found. A new study has identified stress and burnout as a major problem employees face within the medical industry, leading to negative health behaviors. With rising stress levels in the workplace for employees, many companies are looking to integrate, engage and enroll employees into wellness programs.
"It's important to teach individuals to monitor their stress levels over time and practice effective, ongoing stress-reduction strategies, such as getting involved in wellness programs, this will in-turn help health care employees live a happy and health life," says Matthew Clark, Ph.D., lead author of the study and resiliency expert at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program.

The study, which is published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, measured stress and health behaviors (exercise, nutrition, sleep, etc.) by a series of five annual surveys administered to 676 participants who are employees at Mayo Clinic and have access to a wellness center. A significant relationship was found between the stress levels of an employee and four domains of quality of life: poor physical health, low mental health, poor nutritional habits and lower perceived overall health. Unfortunately, according to the study, employees who reported high stress levels and perceived poor quality of life also reported the lowest usage of wellness programs.

According to Dr. Clark, "Increasing the awareness of wellness centers and programs in academic medical environments will increase the quality of life of employees and lead to less physician and staff burnout."

Many companies are taking note of burnout and job strain in their staff and have created wellness centers, offer stress reduction programs, provide wellness coaching and healthy sleep programs for their employees in an effort to reduce stress, job strain and burnout. Muscular strength, cardiovascular fitness and flexibility exercises are also beneficial to overall quality of life, Dr. Clark writes.

He adds, "We are beginning to encourage employees to monitor their stress levels and to engage in daily resiliency practices, such as exercise, time with family and friends, meditation or gratitude journaling, to help reduce their stress levels and improve their quality of life."

Given the significance of stress in the workplace, the researchers note that exploring ways to effectively engage employees who have high levels of stress into wellness programs warrants further investigation.

Science Daily/SOURCE :

Group work can harm memory

September 13, 2016

Science Daily/University of Liverpool
Collaborating in a group to remember information is harmful, new research suggests. The research statistically analysed 64 earlier collaborative remembering studies and found that groups recall less than their individual members would if working alone.

A new study by psychologists from the University of Liverpool and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) reveals that collaborating in a group to remember information is harmful.

The research, conducted by Dr Craig Thorley, the University's Department of Psychological Sciences, and Dr Stéphanie Marion, from UOIT's Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, statistically analysed 64 earlier collaborative remembering studies and found that groups recall less than their individual members would if working alone.

The same study also found that collaborative remembering boosts later individual learning: people who previously recall in a group remember more than those who do not.

The research provides the first systematic investigation into the costs and benefits of collaborative remembering.

Collaborative inhibition

Collaborative remembering is important as it is used in a number of different everyday settings. In the workplace, interview panels jointly recall candidates' answers before deciding who to employ. In the courtroom, jurors work together to recall trial evidence prior to reaching a verdict. In schools and universities, students work together to revise course content prior to exams.

The study, published in Psychological Bulletin this week, first compared the recall of collaborative groups to the pooled recall of an equivalent number of individuals. For example, if a collaborative group consisted of four people, their recall was compared to that of four individuals who worked alone but whose recall was combined. Collaborative group recall was consistently lower than pooled individual recall. This effect is known as collaborative inhibition.

The study suggests collaborative inhibition occurs as group members disrupt each other's retrieval strategies when recalling together.

Retrieval strategies

Dr Craig Thorley, said: "Collaborative group members develop their own preferred retrieval strategies for recalling information. For example, Person A may prefer to recall information in the order it was learned but Person B may prefer to recall it in the reverse order. Importantly, recall is greatest when people can use their own preferred retrieval strategies.

"During collaboration, members hear each other recall information using competing retrieval strategies and their preferred strategies become disrupted. This results in each group member underperforming and the group as a whole suffers. Individuals who work alone can use their preferred retrieval strategies without this disruption so recall more."

Several factors were also found to influence the extent to which collaborative inhibition occurs. One of these findings was collaboration is more harmful to larger groups than smaller groups. Another was that friends and family members are more effective at working together than strangers.

Dr Thorley adds: "Smaller groups perform better than larger groups as they contain fewer competing (disruptive) retrieval strategies. Friends and family members perform better than strangers as they tend to develop complementary (and not competing) retrieval strategies."

Collaboration Boosts Later Memory

The study also compared the recall of people who had previously collaborated in a group to the recall of people who had previously worked alone. It was found that collaborating in a group boosted later individual recall.

Dr Stéphanie Marion, states: "We believe that this occurs as working in a group means people are re-exposed to things they may have forgotten and this boosts their memory later on. One of the important consequences of this is that it suggests getting people to work together to remember something (e.g., students revising together) is beneficial for individual learning."

Science Daily/SOURCE :

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