By: Annabel Patch
Recess the favorite class of many children, may be one of the most important classes a child participates in. While it may seem as though recess is taking away from time kids could be learning, studies done by Wendy Suzuki and other neuroscientists and teachers prove otherwise. Wendy Suzuki a neuroscientist studying memory has discovered the impact of exercise on learning in people of all ages but specifically children. Suzuki started working out after going through a slump in her everyday life. She wasn’t feeling her best socially and emotionally and decided to start going to the gym as a way to feel stronger. After going to the gym regularly for about a year and a half she started to see the benefit of exercise in her own work. She discovered that since she started exercising the quality of her work had improved.
After seeing this improvement Suzuki decided to investigate the effects of exercise on the brain. She learned that exercise is mood boosting and helps with your cognitive functions, or your ability to process things. The brain is a muscle and like all muscles, it can be strengthened. Suzuki learned that exercise, in particular, is great for strengthening your hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. Your prefrontal cortex is in charge of executive functions, such as the control of your behavior. The hippocampus is in charge of memory and some key parts of learning. Both of these structures in our brains are important to learning. By strengthening these we are able to learning is able to improve. By exercising you are enhancing your creative thinking, decision making, focus, and retrieving memories. Suzuki found that after exercising students are able to focus on a task for up to 2 hours.
Along with improving your learning, Suzuki found that exercise is able to improve your quality of life in general. Exercise encourages the growth of new neurons in a process called neurogenesis. This can help with learning. Also, exercise produces hormones like serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, and endorphins. These hormones boost your mood and also reduce stress. This can greatly improve your quality of life.
Because of the benefits of exercise, recess is very important to the well being of children. It not only helps them learn and grow, but it can also improve their quality of life. Recess gives kids the chance to run around and hang out with friends. Suzuki found that this exercise, even for only a short amount of time can make a big difference in the lives of children. By studying the children's ability to focus before and after exercise she was able to conclude that exercise like recess is beneficial in kids lives. Although kids may not be using that time to learn new skills such as multiplication and grammar the time is crucial for children's memory recall and attention span. Being able to remember and recall information learned in class is much more beneficial to the children's’ education than learning information is forgetting it because the child is not focused.
How Movement and Exercise Help Kids Learn. (2019, May 22). Retrieved from
Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed with too many things to do? In a culture that rewards productivity and shames laziness you are probably familiar with a busy schedule that can leave you mentally exhausted. Between classes, homework, sports, socializing, and family I often find myself rushing from one activity to the next with little break in between. And technology doesn’t help. With a phone or laptop always nearby we never have to be bored even for a second. While this exciting entertainment might seem like a positive thing, scrolling through instagram and playing games on our laptop keeps our brain active just when it could have had a second to rest. As many other highschool students know, being busy all the time can lead to stress and anxiety. Being constantly active can cause a lot of mental health consequences. Not to mention when we overwhelm ourselves and our minds like this we tend to burn out which can work against productivity and cause even more stress to build up. So how do we prevent this cycle? The answer is niksen.
Niksen is the concept of doing nothing. Of course you always have to be doing something whether that's something important like doing homework or something simple like laying down. So maybe a better interpretation for niksen is idleness. It is the practice of doing things that might not be seen as productive or something you “should” be doing. For instance gazing out the window requires very little physical activity and can allow the mind to wander however many people might consider this a waste of time.
Changing your thinking about these kinds of activities and practicing them in your everyday life can help foster a healthy, strong mind. Ms. Mann’s research has shown that “Daydreaming makes us more creative, better at problem-solving, better at coming up with creative ideas.” If you allow your mind a break it will be more ready to take on the next activity that you want it to preform, weather that be a conversation with a friend or the history presentation you have due tomorrow. So as lazy as it seems it is important to take time every day to just sit and think. However this is easier said then done.
I often get agitated and find it difficult to do nothing with a long to do list and assignment after assignment of school work piling up. Niksen will be difficult at first and it require practice just like any skill. You will have to get used to doing nothing before you can benefit from it. If you are having trouble relaxing it can be helpful to put yourself in a comfy place away from electronics and other distractions to do nothing. Set some time to consciously try and daydream every day. You can also try activities like playing with play-dough that are simple and don’t take any mental energy to trick your mind into taking a break. Don't get discouraged, after some practice daydreaming will begin to feel less boring and instead more beneficial and reviving.
Mecking, O. (2019, April 30). The Case for Doing Nothing. Retrieved May 28, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/29/smarter-living/the-case-for-doing-nothing.html?rref=collection/timestopic/Psychology and Psychologists&action=click&contentCollection=health®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=collection
New York Times Article
"To Do: Nothing" sticky note
By Caeden Rogers
Have you ever felt stressed out of your mind? Too busy to handle the world? Maybe you should just do nothing. Psychologist have found that occasionally doing nothing can help you in the long run. Wondering why? Just keep reading!
Now, many may think that by saying you are busy, you are saying that you are more important. When in reality, being busy isn't a status indicator. You could be just as busy as Tom Cruise but be a high school student. In order to feel less stressed or busy, all you need to do is practice what the dutch call, niksen, otherwise known as nothing. Psychologist Doreen Dodgen-Magee studies boredom. She compares a human to a car saying that to practice nothing is like having the car's engine running but not going anywhere. Sandi Mann is a psychologist at the University of Central Lancashire in Britain. She believes that gazing out a window or sitting still is considered niksen. Anything that takes up some time and energy in beneficial whether it be niksen or not. Some may call this being lazy but they are just uninformed. Those uninformed probably participate in niksen throughout their day. Just going on a walk or daydreaming can help with your creativity and problem solving. Psychologist say that when practicing niksen, it may be awkward and uncomfortable the first couple of times you try it. Take into account where you are, what your surroundings might be. Is it quiet? Is it busy? Try to limit the outside factors impeding on your nothingness and just be.
As a high school student, I am put under a lot of stress everyday when given assignments and difficult tasks to complete. There is no time in my day to simply do nothing. After reading this article, I realize how important it is for my mental, physical, and emotional health to do nothing, even if it is just five minutes out of my day. I already take walks during classes when I can not focus or am bored. Sometimes just a short walk can boost my mood and help my concentration. If taking a walk could help me get better grades then I will gladly go on a walk. Not only do I go on walks sometimes, I think that daydreaming has also been beneficial to my learning and concentration.
There are only a few studies surrounding niksen or doing nothing. From the ones there are, you can take away that niksen is a healthy practice. It is beneficial in all aspects of your day to day life. In short, take a five or ten minute break out of your day to go on a walk or day dream or just do nothing. You will thank yourself for it later. I am not saying skip class to go be mindful; maybe spend your lunch break daydreaming, walking in the halls or in the courtyard. Spend some time to care for yourself by practicing niksen this year. Maybe even host a boredom party!
Links and Citations:
Mecking, O. (2019, April 30). The Case for Doing Nothing. Retrieved May 22, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/29/smarter-living/the-case-for-doing-nothing.html?rref=collection/timestopic/Psychology and Psychologists&action=click&contentCollection=health®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=collection
I am very familiar to procrastinating. In fact, this assignment is being completed at 11:00 PM the night before it is due. The article “When Bonuses Backfire: An Inaction Inertia Analysis of Procrastination Induced by a Missed Opportunity” about how incentives to complete a task early can actually impede efficiency of completion or cause incompletion of the task. The central idea surrounding these studies is inaction inertia. Inaction inertia is the tendency for a person to be less likely to complete a task at the second completion opportunity once the first opportunity is missed. In other words, when a person doesn’t do their work when the first opportunity arises, they’ll probably push it off the next time too.
Five groups were set up to complete a task: read a two page article and complete the comprehension quiz. There were two control groups with a flat completion reward of 1 credit. The first group had to complete the task in 2 weeks to earn the reward, the other had 3 weeks to complete the task. The three other groups would receive the 1 credit reward for completing the task in 3 weeks but would also receive a bonus (small: ¼ credits, medium: ½ credits, or large: 1 credit) for completing the task within the first two weeks.
It was found that there were two completion clusters. The small and medium bonuses’ completion rates did not vary significantly from each other but were significantly lower (about 30%) than the control groups and the large bonus groups whose completion rates did not vary significantly. However, as the bonus grew, the completion in the third week decreased. In the small bonus group, about half of those who completed the task submitted it after the bonus deadline, while in the medium group it was about 1/13 of completers submitted theirs in the final week. In the large bonus group, no one submitted the assignment after the 2 week bonus period. This result shows that the incentive increases the likelihood that inaction inertia will take hold. As the bonus increased, less participants took the second opportunity to complete the task.
Three groups were set to complete the task in 1 week and were monitored for time of completion. Each subject was promised a reward of 1 credit and $3 for task completion and a 1 credit deduction for failure to complete the task. Each needed to respond to an email stating that they would participate in the study. Two groups were informed that the first five people to respond to the email would receive a bonus (either large: $15, or small $2). These groups were later informed that they were not of the first five to respond. The final control group was not informed of a bonus.
In this study, the small bonus group and the control group did not vary significantly in the time it took them to complete the task. However, the large bonus group took about three times as long to complete the task. These findings demonstrate that a perceived lost opportunity contributes to lack of motivation to work on a task.
When it comes to my life, I should really get things done the first chance I get. Otherwise, inaction inertia could take ahold of me, and I’ll be less likely to do my work. Also this study plays into school. In the past teachers have tried to give my classes extra credit for turning in assignments early, but as this article shows, there is little benefit from these incentives. They can even be harmful. I need to learn to get things done right away so I’m not finishing my psychology assignment at 12:00 AM. Inaction inertia be darned.
Pittman, T. S., Tykocinski, O. E., Sandman-Keinan, R., & Matthews, P. A. (2008). When bonuses backfire: An inaction inertia analysis of procrastination induced by a missed opportunity. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 21(2), 139-150. doi:10.1002/bdm.576
by Ashley Allen
Netflix or Finals Review? The answer is usually the former, but why? Why does our mind subject itself to the vicious cycle of procrastination?
You come home after school exhausted and are expected to do homework or chores but all you really want to do is sit and relax, you make the soon to be a regrettable mistake and skip the work. We know that we will eventually have to do these tasks but still procrastinate. We know procrastination will only cause a negative outcome and an inevitable one as well and yet the cycle continues. Essentially procrastination is a mixture of anxiety, insecurity, frustration, resentment, self-doubt, or boredom associated with a task that causes us to delay it as much as possible. “People engage in this irrational cycle of chronic procrastination because of an inability to manage negative moods around a task,” said Dr. Fuschia Sirois, professor of psychology at the University of Sheffield. When presented with a task so complicated or draining we come to the belief that we aren't smart enough or capable to complete it. To fix this mindset the only way we know how, we push it away for as long as possible. It's not about poor time management or laziness, its an emotional complex we’ve created to shield ourselves from negative feelings we have associated with a task. Dr. Tim Pychyl, professor of psychology at Carleton University states it as “The primacy of short-term mood repair … over the longer-term pursuit of intended actions. [Procrastination is] The immediate urgency of managing negative moods” I interpret this as meaning we “just can’t” do it and even the thought of the dreadful task creates anxiety and you place a mental wall between yourself and the task. “Procrastination is a perfect example of present bias, our hard-wired tendency to prioritize short-term needs ahead of long-term ones.” Meaning our brain is subconsciously is defending itself to actions it knows will cause you distress. Embedded into our DNA we are conditioned to put our short term need first, you aren't focused on the future because you’re focused on helping yourself in the here and now. “Dr. Hershfield’s research has shown that, on a neurological level, we perceive our “future selves” more like strangers than as parts of ourselves. When we procrastinate, parts of our brains actually think that the tasks we’re putting off and the accompanying negative feelings that await us on the other side are somebody else’s problem.” Essentially we dissociate with the truth of that future and when it comes time to face that truth we blame ourselves for the situation we’ve put ourselves through. I find myself doing this constantly with homework, and eventually, when it comes time to complete it, I’m surprised to find a huge pile of work. I push it off just for a while to escape the feelings, and frustration that comes along with it. I know it's not healthy and I know it’s not an effective way to balance school work but I still do it every day. And even for people like me who are master procrastinators, that can convince themselves to skip the work every time, there are ways to make procrastination harder for yourself. Dr. Pychyl provides the “Next Action” method, to separate your task into chunks of work so even if your only doing one whole task it could feel like five. When you feel more productive, you are. Another tactic is placing obstacles like making your temptations harder to get to induce a degree of frustration or anxiety. If social media is a common distraction try deleting your apps or placing your phone in another room. To attack procrastination at another angle Dr. Sirois found that “procrastinators tend to have high stress and low self-compassion”. When you look back on all your incomplete tasks you put yourself down and beat yourself up about the situation, but this doesn’t stop you from repeating your mistakes. Dr. Sirois suggests to practice self-compassion, because it increases motivation and decreases the psychological stress of self-blame due to procrastination. So next time you skip your homework for an easier, less challenging task remember it’s truly a vicious cycle that only hurts yourself.
Lieberman, C. (2019, March 25). Why You Procrastinate (It Has Nothing to Do With Self-Control). Retrieved May 25, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/25/smarter-living/why-you-procrastinate-it-has-nothing-to-do-with-self-control.html?rref=collection/timestopic/Psychology and
What if you could intentionally forget an awful memory? In other words, erase traumatic events from your memory? This question has been debated and has been divided into its pros and cons. Events from our past can affect how we live our futures and if we could somehow harness the power to erase bad memories, we could live without the stress of the past. But, erasing memories can be a potential negative as bad memories can act as red flags for us to use when making critical decisions. Without these memories, we would have no knowledge of potential dangers. Also, losing memories is critical for our memory production and retrieval and is key to our identity. Manipulating this sequence could have negative effects that we do not understand. Recent scientific research has opened the possibility to which we could change society and the health of everyone.
In a recent study in the New York Times, scientists have been studying whether or not we can forget events that have a negative effect on our lives. Since our emotions to sensory details are crucial to our memory production, the new study focused on this concept. Tracy Wang, a postdoctoral psychology fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, led the experiment where 24 participants sat in a brain-imaging machine while the memory test was being conducted. The participants were shown 200 images of faces and scenes and told to identify the faces and male or female and the scenes as indoor or outdoor. After each image, they were told to either remember or forget the image. After a short break, the participants were shown the images and asked if they confidently remembered the image. The results: the participants remembered approximately 50 to 60% of the images which means they successfully forgot 40% of the images. The brain-imaging showed that when a participant concentrated on forgetting or when a participant mentally ignored the image, it did not contribute to a successful attempt at forgetting. Rather, those individuals that did not focus too much on forgetting actually successfully forgot an image.
The study supports the possibility of controllable forgetting which is opening the door for new methods of forgetting. Intentional ignoring is a common method of suppression of bad memories. It is also shown that linking bad memories to underlying positives of the memory can help manipulate the memory into a positive one helping forget the bad event. I found this particularly relatable as I have had many humiliating experiences in my life and rather than focusing on the shame and regret I feel, I have manipulated these memories to focus on the support my friends gave me and the lessons I learned so I am less affected by the bad event than I could have been. I think the idea that we could consciously forget bad memories can be a groundbreaking scientific discovery as it can be a vital treatment for patients suffering from depression, stress, and neglect. We could treat victims with childhood neglect and trauma into living normal lives without the pain and suffering they can endure. Think about it, you can intentionally forget your worst memories and live a healthier lifestyle just by changing your memory!
Carey, B. (2019, March 22). Can We Get Better at Forgetting? Retrieved May 21, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/22/health/memory-forgetting-psychology.html?rref=collection/timestopic/Psychology and Psychologists&action=click&contentCollection=health®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=29&pgtype=collection
By Shanti Gallivan
Today, the list of advantages that the upper class has is extensive and continues to grow. With the disposable income that allows for one to follow their passion without fear of losing it all and having a little extra to invest in the Stockmarket, the upper class seems to have all the right cards to play. With all these advantages, there still seems to be a level playing field in the realm of personality––you just can't buy it. However, new research suggests the wealthy aren't only able to succeed with money but confidence!
In a recent study published by the New York Times, several experiments were done to look at the connection, if at all, of confidence and social class. The study concluded that people who came from a higher social class were more likely to have an inflated sense of their skills––even when tests proved they were average. This study also suggests that this sense of overconfidence allows wealthier individuals to convince people they are qualified for tasks that they have little experience in. The study was broken up into three mini studies that looked at different parts of these two hypotheses.
Study 1 - Is confidence and wealth connected?
The first study's participates featured small-business owners from Mexico. The researchers obtained information from a small business loan agency, Global EFL, on 150,949 small-business owners from Mexico that applied for loans ranging from 429 to 107,294 US dollars. When the business owners were applying for loans they had to complete a short psychometric assessment which tested their cognitive abilities. The assessment consisted of a flashcard game and once the participants finished they had to rank how well they thought they did. Their results were calculated and how much they over-placed themselves was also recorded. The researchers then compared the over-placement records with the participants' social classes. After which, they concluded that those with more education, higher income, and a higher subjective sense of standing in society were more likely to think that they did better on the flashcard game––even if their results were average. This study allowed researchers to find and establish the correlation between overconfidence and wealth.
Study 2 - Is there a connection in the United States too?
The second study that was done in this experiment was a three part online survey testing the same idea (the strong connection between wealth and overconfidence). In this study, the participants were informed from a MTurk ad and asked to complete three surveys that included tasks and a self-assessment of ones ability of those tasks. This study involved 500 participants and replicated the results of Study 1 while also shedding further light on the statement that "Individuals with relatively high (compared to low) social class tend to be more overconfident because they have a stronger desire to achieve high social rank." By finding that those with a higher social class were likely to be more confident, even if there ability was not special, researchers were able to include US participants in their hypotheses while verifying results found in Study 1.
Study 3 - Why is overconfidence beneficial?
The final study featured a mock job interview in a laboratory of a college campus featuring college students. The study was to test the last piece of the hypothesis––if overconfidence in higher-class individuals would provide a path to social advantages. The researchers asked the students to come prepared for an interview and to act as if they were highly interested in the job. Those who were doing the interview were also not aware of the specifics in the experiment which made the experiment "double blinded" to decrease sources of error. The interviewers were asked to record their opinions on each university student interviewed. These opinions were later compared to the economic and social status of the student. The researchers found that compared with their lower-class counterparts, higher-class individuals were more overconfident and found to be more competent.
This study is important because these findings caused researchers to infer that overconfidence is another way in which those who are born in the upper class are likely to remain in the upper class. This trend is seen in the extreme wealth inequality of the United States. Researchers also believe that the majority of individuals who work at elite and prestigious firms tend to come from elite educational institutions. And finally, high earning entrepreneurs disproportionately come from a highly educated and "well-to-do" families.
This study may seem as though it is just adding to the advantages of coming from a wealthy family, however, it relates to the everyday people on multiple levels. First, this study shows the importance of confidence, but also shows how actual experience is more valuable than apparent confidence. This study also shows that the American Dream of climbing up the "social ladder" still has many limitations (even confidence is one) that we must try to overcome for future generations. To me, this study made me realize the importance of your own personality for new opportunities.
To view article click here
References (in APA):
Murphy, H. (2019, May 20). Why High-Class People Get Away With Incompetence. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/20/science/social-class-confidence.html?rref=collection/timestopic/Psychology and Psychologists&action=click&contentCollection=health®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection
Inequality scale image
Confidence graph image
By Liv Bailey
Imagine: you live a life where you never get bored of anything. Not even 90 minute long history classes with nothing but a very dull powerpoint to keep your attention. Wouldn’t that be incredible? You’d never be forced to stare at a wall and not know what to do with yourself ever again.
Now, obviously, that’s not entirely possible. I don't have some magic trick that just gets rid of boredom with a wave of a magic wand and a couple multivitamins that don’t seem to do anything. There is, however, a way to get around spending your days generall bored with your life, and it doesn’t even involve drastic lifestyle changes! Not that I’d be writing this if I was going to tell you you had to move to another country and throw away your phone. I’m not that much of an idiot — I know you aren’t going to do any of that, and if you aren’t going to do any of it, you’d stop reading this article, and what would be the point of that?
Alright, here’s the thing. Boredom? It’s actually something we developed evolutionarily. Boredom is because of this thing called “hedonic adaptation.” I know, I know, scientific jargon, but it’s actually really simple. Hedonic adaptation simply means that over time, we get used to things — whether they’re good or bad. In other words, if your grandmother dies, you’ll be heartbroken (probably. I don't know what your relationship with your grandmother is like), but eventually, that pain will fade away. On the flipside, if you get a new car, you’re going to be super excited and happy about it for a couple weeks, and then that happiness will fade, and it’ll just be your car. Hedonic adaptation, despite the fact that it takes away our happy emotions quite often, does serve an important purpose. Extreme emotions can be nice (or terrible), but no matter what, they always render us unable to remember things as easily, and they make us less motivated to do things. Rushes of emotion reduce brain function, and if we were always like that, we wouldn’t convert a lot of long term memories, and we’d really not get a lot done, because we’re so caught up in feelings. Hedonic adaptation levels out our emotions for us, so we aren’t hindered by them for too long. The problem? When all your emotions are leveled out, you stop really feeling things, and you get bored.
In 2018, two men named Robert W. Smith and Ed O’Brien decided to run some experiments to determine what people could do counter boredom. They had people do some interesting stuff, but apparently having participants eat popcorn with chopsticks helped them determine how to free oneself from boredom, so how much can I complain? Anyways, they found that there’s a couple of things people can do that are relatively easy, and still counter boredom incredibly. Here’s my favorite three.
Getting up at 6:00, starting school at 8:00, going to the same scheduled classes every other day, going to sports practice at 2:45, and then going home to do homework at 5:00 can get extremely boring. It’s the same thing, again and again, every day, with no way to get out. I know it kills me. There isn’t really much I can change about my schedule, since it’s so packed, and I don’t even have my licence yet (I’m a sophomore and I’m still fifteen, I know, I don't want to hear about it), so I can't just decide to go somewhere… ever. So, obviously, I have a lot of opportunities to get bored. Reading about a study like Smith and O’Brien’s was very enlightening for me. All the strategies that their experiment revealed were things that I can easily do, despite my age and… immobility. It’s not that hard for me to decide, one day, that I’m going to eat something new or to rearrange my workspace. I will certainly be using these ideas in the near future.
So, what did we learn? Well, boredom is something that proves you’re evolutionarily up to date, for one. Was hedonic adaptation the hidden part of the software update that made everything stop working properly? We’d like to think it is, sure, because maybe it’s the cause of our last breakup (the relationship lost its “new” feeling and all of a sudden, you realized you actually didn’t really like the person you were with), but it’s very important that our strong emotions fade over time, so that we can, you know, use our brains properly. Too much evening out causes boredom, however, so we have to find ways to counter that. Smith and O’Brien (what great dudes) conducted a study that found a couple of ways we can do that — eating food unconventionally (a.k.a. go buy yourself some chopsticks), organizing your workspace, and asking people new casual questions (if I hear “how are you?” one more time, I swear). If you do these few things, you’ll be able to reduce your boredom drastically, by creating a small feeling of “new” every time you do something, so that hedonic adaptation doesn’t have a chance to sink its claws into your routine.
Fraga, J. (2019, March 30). What to Do When You're Bored With Your Routines. Retrieved May 22, 2019, from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/29/smarter-living/what-to-do-when-youre-bored-with-your-routines.html?rref=collection/timestopic/Psychology and Psychologists&action=click&contentCollection=health®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=24&pgtype=collection
O’Brien, E., & Smith, R. W. (n.d.). Unconventional Consumption Methods and Enjoying Things Consumed: Recapturing the "First-Time" Experience - Ed O'Brien, Robert W. Smith, 2019. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0146167218779823
[Popcorn and chopsticks]. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://review.chicagobooth.edu/behavioral-science/2018/article/try-eating-popcorn-chopsticks
Do you find yourself juggling a dozen projects in various states of completion all happening at once? You’re not alone.
But when you don’t know can hurt you. Having this many tasks all happening at once can lead to excess stress in your life. But through setting goals and being selective there are ways to break this cycle of stress.
Many people find themselves doing two or three projects in any given week, we may ‘abandon one’, or ‘save it for later’ as we tell ourselves but really when we do this, it turns into an unconscious load of stress that we have no control of… But wait, yes you do. It starts with our very first decision to start a project, then our brains commit something called a planning fallacy, which is a mistaken belief. The planning fallacy states that there is a, “predisposition of humans to underestimate the time it takes to complete a thing”. What this is saying is that as humans, we cannot accurately estimate the amount of time something will take. So, in turn we overcommit ourselves to an abundance of tasks we can’t complete. This principle is so deep within us that some people can understand it, and acknowledge the fallacy, but still commit it. It is also partly that our unconscious brain finds new things so exciting, that they throw our brain for a loop, and out brains reward ourselves for starting something new, because the chemical reaction that takes place feels so good. As humans, we are built to crave this feeling, and can get addicted to starting new tasks. It is a form of operant conditioning, something called positive reinforcement: When we add something into our lives to strengthen the good feeling in our brains. After a while, we are conditioned to crave the feeling of starting new things. But with time, naturally, the excitement will fade and your brain will lose interest in those things that we don’t really care about. After a while they loom over us as half-completed, and nag on our brains, adding more stress. Sometimes it can make you feel weighed down to the amount of tasks you are trying to handle all at once, created bad stigma around what that project is. But there is a way to solve this looming crisis!
There are various ways we can avoid the extra tasks turning into stress. It has to do with self-affirmation, and how your brain rewards itself upon completion of a task. Dr. Amabile, who studies the impacts of daily events on ones productivity and work life, found in a study that participants, that the most impactful events in productivity were the small progresses, or “micro progresses” that kept participants interested in a project. This means that even the slightest of tasks completed would fuel the fire to continuously wanting to work on the task. With these tips, you can keep yourself true to the projects you care about, and leave behind those that aren’t of interest to you.
First tip, figure out what success really is to you in the thing you want to begin, and set goals for yourself. Because, when we fail to reach a standard that is unreasonable, it makes us lose interest in that thing. Next, learn how to “Count the full cost”. This means that when we want to start a new task and try to think about the time it will take to complete, multiply that time by three. This multiplication of time seems to be a lot, or almost too much, but has been found to be accurate in making realistic time estimates. To-do lists are also very helpful, this can be considered a form of “micro progress”… When you check off the items on your list, there is a chemical reward released into your brain and it is encouraging for your brain to keep building off of those small accomplishments. Lastly, know when to give up: Set a cutoff date in your head to quit at something when or before it lingers too much and beings to cause you stress. Because once that happens we begin to associate that thing that looms over us as a bad thing, and can cause conditioned reactions to it. Our brains only have so much attention capacity so don't let something from ages ago take up that space you could use for important things. With these tips, conquer those things you’re passionate about and dump those that you aren’t.
Can you think of any projects you’ve brushed into the corner?
Higgs, M. M. (2018, December 04). How to Accept a Compliment - Even if It's From Yourself. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/04/smarter-living/how-to-accept-a-compliment.html?module=inline
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Multitasking woman stock photos. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.shutterstock.com/search/multitasking woman
By Kiarah Barnes
I'm sure you have heard of treating mental illness. What about solving and curing it? Well it is not that easy. There are many different kinds of mental illness such as Depression, OCD, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Autism and many more. All of these have different causes and because of this scientists do not know what will "cure" mental illness. Although you can not cure all mental illnesses the same way, maybe knowing what certain disorders and diseases are caused by will help lead towards finding a cure or even better treatment. Some diseases and disorders, like schizophrenia, come mostly from genetics and we know this after many years of funding experiment and supplies that lead to dead ends when trying to find a cure but scientists are still studying it.
Scientists started off thinking that mental illness was caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, genetics, or some sort of faulty wiring in the brain. Even if this may be true there was no actual science that backed this up. After a long time we started to find out little things about each disease that would help a lot in the long run. After many trials and errors some important facts were found like finding out schizophrenia is in fact mostly caused by genetics and how autism is also very gene caused as well.
Gail Hornstein is a professor who is doing a study on people who go to a meeting like AA but instead of addiction they talk about their mental health. This study focuses on the participants struggles, how they handle them, and how this group will help them overall. There is a few questions that she would like to answer. She said, “We have underestimated the power of social interactions. We see people who’ve been in the system for years, on every med there is. How is it possible that such people have recovered, through the process of talking with others? How has that occurred? That is the question we need to answer.” Gail also mentions that in order to move forward scientists have to dig deeper into certain individuals and also dig deeper into the theory of how genes effect mental illness. The problem with this is often people who are struggling with mental illness often feel hurt, misunderstood, and mistreated to the point where they will not give all the information needed.
Personally I do not have any diagnosed mental illness. Although I have never been diagnosed I do find that most people that I know, including myself, have had certain depressing times and feeling in their life. Especially during high school. Things happen to everyone and it is how we decide to deal with it that affects how our brains deal with things in the future. Even though genetics have an effect on our mental health past experiences also have an effect. School work, classes, friends, family, and many other things cause stress, anxiety, sadness, etc, even if it isn’t to the point of having to be diagnosed.
Ms. Carrigan's Psych Class
We have been reading articles about psychological studies to inform the way we live our lives. Please explore, and we hope you learn a bit about the psychology in your life!