1. Study suggests employee-job personality match linked with higher income

    December 11, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Association for Psychological Science press release:

    coworker, managerAn employee whose personality traits closely match the traits that are ideal for her job is likely to earn more than an employee whose traits are less aligned, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

    “Our findings show that looking at the combination of personality traits and job demands is key to predict important outcomes, like income,” says lead researcher Jaap J. A. Denissen of Tilburg University. “This updates the notion that you only have to look at the personality traits of an individual to predict his or her life outcomes. Our results indicate that it’s more complex: You also have to take that person’s environment into account.”

    Findings from previous research have indicated that some personality traits are generally beneficial when it comes to a work environment. Being highly conscientious, Denissen notes, is associated with being hard-working, well-organized, and rule-abiding, qualities that are typically prized in employees.

    But Denissen and coauthors questioned the notion that there is an “ideal” personality type. They hypothesized that the match, or mismatch, between an individual’s traits and job demands might be critical when it comes to important outcomes like income.

    The researchers developed a novel strategy for directly comparing the fit between a given employee and a given job, using the well-established Big Five personality traits to quantify the traits that a job requires.

    Analyzing data from the nationally representative German Socio-Economic panel, the researchers examined personality profiles, annual income, and jobs of 8,458 individuals living in Germany. Due to the fact that men were more likely than women to be employed full-time in Germany at the time of the data collection, the sample was 68% male and 32% female, with a mean age of 43.7 years old.

    Each individual in the sample completed a brief version of the Big Five inventory in German, rating the degree to which they thought 15 personality-related statements applied to them (e.g., “I see myself as someone who has an active imagination” for openness to experience.

    Participants’ jobs were classified using the International Labour Organization’s International Standard Classification of Occupations. Two psychologists with extensive expertise in occupational issues (but who were unaware of the researchers’ hypotheses) then assessed each job for its ideal levels of Big Five traits. They determined, for example, that a bookkeeper required the lowest level of extraversion, whereas an actor or director required the highest level.

    The researchers used a statistical technique called response surface analysis to create a 3D model that identified how each employee’s personality traits and the ideal personality traits for each job contributed to employee income.

    The results showed that fit really does matter, at least when it comes to extraversion, agreeableness, and openness to experience. For these three traits, greater congruence between an employee’s own personality and a job’s demands was linked with higher income — what the researchers call a “fit bonus.”

    Importantly, the data also revealed that it’s possible to have too much of a good thing: Employees who were more agreeable, more conscientious, or more open to experiences than their jobs required actually earned less than people who had congruent levels of those traits.

    The model showed that, in some cases, having too little of a given trait was actually less costly than having too much:

    “Personality characteristics that have long been thought of as universally adaptive were not very beneficial or even detrimental, given particular job characteristics,” says Denissen. “For example, highly conscientious individuals whose jobs did not demand such levels actually had lower earnings than individuals who were low in conscientiousness and had jobs that demanded high levels.”

    The researchers note that additional studies will be required to understand how individual job experiences, job satisfaction, and job performance might sway the association between individual-job personality fit and income. The results of the current study do suggest that achieving the right fit requires a more nuanced approach to assessing both individual traits and job-related traits than previously thought. Paying attention to these nuances could have important implications for both employees and employers.

    “From a practical perspective, companies should be interested in these results because they imply that it’s really important to invest in solid personality assessment,” Denissen explains. “And individuals should care because our findings suggest that if they manage to find jobs that fit their personalities, they can earn more money.”


  2. Study suggests sadism may be factor in why people seek vengeance

    December 9, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Virginia Commonwealth University press release:

    People who enjoy hurting others and seeing them in pain are more likely to seek revenge against those who have wronged them, according to a new study led by a Virginia Commonwealth University psychology professor.

    The study, “Personality Correlates of Revenge-Seeking: Multidimensional Links to Physical Aggression, Impulsivity, and Aggressive Pleasure,” found that sadism is the dominant personality trait that explains why certain people are more likely than others to seek vengeance.

    “We wanted to paint a picture of the personality of the type of person who seeks revenge. We’re all slighted in our daily lives, but some of us seek revenge and some of us do not. So what kind of person is the person who seeks vengeance?” said David Chester, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology in the College of Humanities and Sciences at VCU. “The core of what we found is that the person who seeks revenge is a person who tends to enjoy it.”

    The study, which will appear in a forthcoming edition of the journal Aggressive Behavior, was conducted by Chester and C. Nathan DeWall, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky.

    The researchers conducted three studies involving 673 students at the University of Kentucky in which participants filled out questionnaires that have been validated to predict a person’s real-life behavior. They were asked to say whether they agree or disagree to a variety of statements, such as “Anyone who provokes me deserves the punishment that I give” and “If I’m wronged, I can’t live with myself until I revenge.”

    “A lot of people don’t want to admit to having certain traits or tendencies that aren’t really savory or socially acceptable, so you have to ask questions in a very specific way,” Chester said. “You’re not asking outright, ‘Are you a vengeful person?’ No one would say that they are. But instead you can use a little bit of subterfuge and get some insight.”

    By gaining a deeper understanding of what drives certain people to seek revenge, researchers will be able to create profiles that could be used to identify those who are most likely to commit violence in the future and intervene.

    “Not everyone when they’re wronged goes out and shoots up a school. Not everyone when they’re wronged starts a bar fight. But some people do. So identifying who is most at risk for seeking revenge is really important to do in order to intervene before they engage in harmful acts and start to hurt other people in retaliation,” Chester said.

    “This type of information [revealed in the study] can be used to build a profile of the type of person to look out for,” he said. “If you know which individuals are most at risk of seeking vengeance against others, maybe you could intervene beforehand and prevent the acts of violence from ever happening in the first place.”

    Chester, a leading scholar in the field of aggression research, runs the Social Psychology and Neuroscience Lab in VCU’s Department of Psychology, which aims to further our understanding of violent behavior, exploring the role of the brain and human psychology behind topics such as revenge, domestic abuse, psychopaths and related topics.

    “Our real world goal is to reduce violence and to reduce aggressive behavior. The most common form of that is revenge,” Chester said. “When you ask murderers and terrorists and others who commit violence why they did what they did, the answer is frequently that they were seeking retribution for something that someone had done to them.”

    “So if we’re trying to reduce aggression, we should start by trying to reduce revenge,” he said. “And one of the best ways to reduce revenge is to figure out who is most likely to do it.”


  3. Study links non-fearful social withdrawal to creativity

    November 30, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University at Buffalo press release:

    Everyone needs an occasional break from the social ramble, though spending too much time alone can be unhealthy and there is growing evidence that the psychosocial effects of too much solitude can last a lifetime.

    But newly published research by a University at Buffalo psychologist suggests that not all forms of social withdrawal are detrimental.

    In fact, the research findings published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences suggest that one form of social withdrawal, referred to as unsociability, is not only unrelated to negative outcomes, but linked positively to creativity.

    “Motivation matters,” says Julie Bowker, an associate professor in UB’s Department of Psychology and lead author of the study, which is the first study of social withdrawal to include a positive outcome.

    “We have to understand why someone is withdrawing to understand the associated risks and benefits,” she says.

    Bowker’s study results are reminiscent of realities that surface in literature, from Thoreau’s retreat to Walden to Thomas Merton’s work as a cloistered monk, but for all the conversation and examples about the benefits of withdrawing to nature or reconnecting to the self, the pursuit has remained something that hasn’t been well investigated in the psychological literature, according to Bowker.

    Until now.

    “When people think about the costs associated with social withdrawal, often times they adopt a developmental perspective,” she says. “During childhood and adolescence, the idea is that if you’re removing yourself too much from your peers, then you’re missing out on positive interactions like receiving social support, developing social skills and other benefits of interacting with your peers.

    “This may be why there has been such an emphasis on the negative effects of avoiding and withdrawing from peers.”

    But, in recent years, Bowker says there is growing recognition for the different reasons why youth withdraw from and avoid peers, and that the risk associated with withdrawal depends on the underlying reason or motivation.

    Some people withdraw out of fear or anxiety. This type of social withdrawal is associated with shyness. Others appear to withdraw because they dislike social interaction. They are considered socially avoidant.

    But some people withdraw due to non-fearful preferences for solitude. These individuals enjoy spending time alone, reading or working on their computers. They are unsociable. Unlike shyness and avoidance, research consistently shows that unsociability is unrelated to negative outcomes. But, Bowker’s study is the first to link it to a positive outcome, creativity.

    “Although unsociable youth spend more time alone than with others, we know that they spend some time with peers. They are not antisocial. They don’t initiate interaction, but also don’t appear to turn down social invitations from peers. Therefore, they may get just enough peer interaction so that when they are alone, they are able to enjoy that solitude. They’re able to think creatively and develop new ideas — like an artist in a studio or the academic in his or her office,” says Bowker.

    In the study, shyness and avoidance were related negatively to creativity. Bowker thinks that “shy and avoidant individuals may be unable to use their solitude time happily and productively, maybe because they are distracted by their negative cognitions and fears.”

    For the study, 295 participants reported on their different motivations for social withdrawal. Other self-report measures assessed creativity, anxiety sensitivity, depressive symptoms, aggression, and the behavioral approach system (BAS), which regulates approach behaviors and desires, and the behavioral inhibition system (BIS), which regulates avoidant behaviors and desires.

    Bowker says there is some overlap in the types of social withdrawal. Someone might be high in shyness, but also have some tendency toward unsociability. But, the results from her study show that when the research controls for all the subtypes, the three types of social withdrawal are related differently to outcomes. Not only was unsociability related positively to creativity, but the study findings also showed other unique associations, such as a positive link between shyness and anxiety sensitivity.

    “Over the years, unsociability has been characterized as a relatively benign form of social withdrawal. But, with the new findings linking it to creativity, we think unsociability may be better characterized as a potentially beneficial form of social withdrawal.”


  4. Study suggests risk of distracted driving predicted by age, gender, personality and driving frequency

    November 26, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Frontiers press release:

    New research identifies age, gender, personality and how often people drive as potential risk factors for becoming distracted while driving. Young men, extroverted or neurotic people, and people who drive more often were more likely to report being distracted, while older women and those who felt that they could control their distracted behavior were less likely to report distraction. Published today in Frontiers in Psychology, this is the first study of how personal traits affect driver distraction. The study also proposes future directions for interventions to reduce distracted driving.

    The World Health Organization estimates that more than 1 million people are killed in road traffic accidents each year. Driver distractions, including answering the phone or fiddling with the radio, are a factor in many accidents. The risk of being involved in an accident increases dramatically after just two seconds of distraction — so understanding and reducing driver distraction will help to save lives.

    Predicting and explaining distracted behavior is difficult, as people often don’t intend to reduce their focus on driving, and may feel they have little control over it. Researchers have not previously examined the link between someone’s attitudes and intentions regarding distracted driving and how often they are distracted during driving. In addition, the link between distracted driving and gender, age and personality, is not completely understood.

    Ole Johansson, a researcher at the Institute of Transport Economics in Norway, investigated these issues by surveying a large group of Norwegian high-school students and a group of Norwegian adults. The surveys covered a variety of topics, including the frequency and type of distractions the participants experience during driving, their attitudes and intentions around driver distractions, and their personalities.

    The surveys revealed that overall rates of driver distraction were low and that fiddling with the radio was the most common distractor. However, some of the most prominent predictors of distraction were age and gender.

    “I found that young men were among the most likely to report distraction,” says Johansson. “Others more prone to distraction include those who drive often, and those with neurotic and extroverted personalities.”

    People who felt that distracted driving was more socially acceptable, or that it was largely beyond their control, were also more likely to report distracted driving. However, older women and those who felt that they could control their distractive behavior were less likely to report distraction.

    The study also examined the effectiveness of an intervention to reduce distracted driving. Participants chose plans to reduce their distractive behavior by matching “if” statements such as “if I am tempted to drive faster than the speed limit while on the highway” with “then” statements such as “then I will remind myself that it is dangerous and illegal to do so.” A control group was provided with information about driving distractions, but made no plans. A follow-up survey two weeks later measured driver distraction in the two groups.

    Both the intervention group and the control group showed a similar decline in distracted driving, meaning that the intervention itself was not effective. Simply being exposed to material about distracted driving and completing the survey may have been enough for the participants to become more aware of their distractions.

    Johansson believes one key to successful future interventions lies in allowing the participants to devise their own plans, rather than choosing from a list, so that they are more engaged. Interventions could also focus on the needs of high-risk groups.

    “Tailored interventions to reduce driver distraction could focus on at-risk groups, such as young males with bad attitudes to distracted driving and a low belief that they can control their distraction,” he concludes.


  5. Study suggests willingness to take risks is a personality trait

    November 5, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Universität Basel press release:

    People differ in their willingness to take risks. An individual’s propensity for risk taking can also vary across domains. However, there is new evidence showing that there is also a general factor of individual risk preference, which remains stable over time — akin to the general Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Researchers from Switzerland and Germany report these findings based on over 1500 participants in the journals Science Advances and Nature Human Behaviour.

    Should I invest my money or leave it in my savings account? Have surgery or not? We make decisions like these knowing that they have consequences and involve risks. But what is the nature of the risk preference driving risk-related decisions? Does our risk preference depend on the context or is it largely consistent across situations? Both is true, according to findings from a large-scale study from researches of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin and the University of Basel, with funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation.

    To assess the risk preferences of 1,507 adults aged between 20 and 36 years, they used three distinct approaches: Self-reports on hypothetical risk scenarios, experimental behavioral tests involving financial incentives as well as information on actual risky activities in everyday life. In total, participants completed 39 tests over the course of a day. To examine how stable the risk preference is over time, the researchers had 109 participants repeat the tests after six months. Previous studies on risk preference mostly used just one or only a few selected measurement instruments.

    Stable factor over time

    “Our findings indicate that risk-taking propensity has a psychometric structure similar to that of psychological personality characteristics. Like the general factor of intelligence, there is also a general factor of risk preference,” says Dr. Renato Frey from the University of Basel and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. “In other words, your willingness to take risks may vary across different areas of your life, but it will always be affected by the underlying general factor of risk preference.” Backing up this idea, the study’s findings show that individuals’ general factor of risk preference remains stable over time.

    Another finding of this study is that the hypothetical scenarios and the reports on actual risk-taking behavior both painted a similar picture of an individual’s risk preference. However, a rather different picture emerged from the experimental behavior tests. A detailed analysis of these inconsistencies revealed that for different behavior test participants used different decision-making strategies. These depended on the type of behavioral task — whether it presented risk in a context of a game, for example, or in a more abstract form. “These results show that behavioral tests, which tend to be the preferred approach of economists, often give an inconsistent picture of people’s risk preferences that is difficult to explain with unified theories of risk behavior,” says Prof. Dr. Jörg Rieskamp from the University of Basel.

    A better understanding of risk behavior

    These results are important both methodologically as well as theoretically: “Our work is a wake-up call for researchers, who need to think twice about the various measurement traditions. In particular, there needs to be a better understanding of what exactly the behavioral tasks measure. It seems clear that they don’t assess risk preference across situations,” says Prof. Dr. Ralph Hertwig from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. “But our finding of a general factor of risk preference — based on self-reports and frequency measures of actual risky activities — suggests that risk preference is a personality characteristic in its own right. This insight will make it possible to examine the biological underpinnings of risk preference in future studies.”


  6. Study suggests people who value virtue show wiser reasoning

    October 31, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Association for Psychological Science press release:

    From romantic dramas to tensions at work, we’re often better at working through other people’s problems than our own–while we may approach our friends’ problems with wise, clear-eyed objectivity, we often view our own problems through a personal, flawed, emotional lens.

    But new research suggests that not everyone may struggle to reason wisely about their own personal problems. People who are motivated to develop the best in themselves and others don’t show this bias–they tend to reason just as wisely about their own problems as they do for others.

    The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

    “Our findings suggest that people who value virtuous motives may be able to reason wisely for themselves, and overcome personal biases observed in previous research,” explains psychological scientist Alex Huynh of the University of Waterloo. “This is in part due to their ability to recognize that their perspectives may not be enough to fully understand a situation, a concept referred to as intellectual humility.”

    Previous research has typically focused on how situations can affect a person’s level of wise reasoning, but these findings suggest that personal motivations may also play a role.

    “To our knowledge, this is the first research that empirically ties this conceptualization of virtue with wisdom, a connection that philosophers have been making for over two millennia,” says Huynh. “These findings open up new avenues for future research to investigate how to increase a person’s level of wisdom.”

    To explore the connection between personal ideals and reasoning, Huynh and University of Waterloo coauthors Harrison Oakes, Garrett R. Shay, and Ian McGregor recruited 267 university students to participate in this study.

    The participants reported the extent to which they were motivated to pursue virtue by rating their agreement with statements like “I would like to contribute to others or the surrounding world” and “I would like to do what I believe in.” Then, they were randomly assigned to think about either a personal conflict or a close friend’s conflict, imagine that the conflict was still unresolved, and describe how they thought and felt about the situation. Finally, they rated how useful different wise reasoning strategies (e.g. searching for compromise, adopting an outsider’s perspective) would be in addressing the conflict in question.

    As expected, participants who thought about a friend’s dilemma considered wiser strategies to be more useful than did the participants who thought about their own personal issues.

    But the motivation to pursue virtue seemed to close this gap–participants who thought about personal problems rated wise-reasoning strategies as more valuable as their motivation to pursue virtue increased.

    Further analyses revealed two specific components of wise reasoning that mattered most: considering other people’s perspectives and intellectual humility. People who valued virtue may show wise reasoning because they recognize that understanding the full scope of their problem necessitates going beyond their personal perspective.

    A second online study with 356 participants produced a similar pattern of results.

    “Everyone is susceptible to becoming too invested in their own perspectives, but this doesn’t have to be the case for everybody. As these findings suggest, your own personality and motivational orientation can influence your ability to approach your personal problems in a calmer, wiser manner,” says Huynh.

    Huynh and colleagues hope to test this relationship in additional experimental studies, examining whether training people to value virtuous motives–i.e., to focus on their personal ideals and contributing to others–boosts their ability to use wise reasoning strategies.


  7. Study suggests new way to assess presence of psychopathic traits

    October 26, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Plymouth press release:

    New research shows that people would sacrifice one person to save a larger group of people — and in addition, the force with which they carry out these actions could be predicted by psychopathic traits.

    The study, led by the University of Plymouth, compared what people ‘said’ they would do with what they actually ‘did’ by comparing a questionnaire with actions in immersive moral dilemmas created using virtual-haptic technologies (i.e. using a robotic device which measures force, resistance, and speed, whilst simulating the action of harming a human).

    In several dilemmas, participants had to decide whether to sacrifice a person by performing a harmful action against them, in order to save a larger group of people.

    While all individuals were more likely to sacrifice others in these immersive environments than in questionnaire-based assessments, people with strong psychopathic traits were more likely to generate these harmful actions with greater physical power.

    Psychopathy is generally characterised by antisocial behaviour and impaired empathy. As such, it is thought that individuals with strong psychopathic traits find it less emotionally challenging to sanction utilitarian actions.

    In the present research, this resilience to performing actively harmful acts appears to enable these individuals to act for the ‘greater good’ (i.e. to save the many). This result therefore indicates that, in certain circumstances, psychopathic traits could be considered beneficial, since they can lead to a more vigorous response.

    This study is a result of an interdisciplinary collaboration between Dr Kathryn Francis, Dr Sylvia Terbeck, Raluca Briazu, Dr Michaela Gummerum, and Dr Giorgio Ganis in the University’s School of Psychology, Agi Haines, a designer based in the University’s Transtechnology research group, and Dr Ian Howard of the Centre for Robotics and Neural Systems.

    Dr Francis, now a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Reading, said: “This research highlights our proneness to moral inconsistency; what we say and what we do can be very different. For the first time, we demonstrate how personality traits can influence the physical power of our moral actions. Importantly, the multidisciplinary approaches that we have used here, combining virtual reality, robotics, and interactive sculpture, places further emphasis on the need to unite the sciences and the arts when investigating complex phenomena such as morality.”

    Dr Sylvia Terbeck, Lecturer in Social Psychology and study co-author, added:

    “This study opens up the possibility to assess psychopathy using novel virtual reality technology — which is vital to better understand how and why people with these behavioural traits act in certain ways.”

    Dr Ian Howard, Associate Professor in the Centre for Robotics and Neural Systems, said: “This work shows how techniques developed to study human movement can play a value role in psychological assessment and thereby lead to new insights into human social behaviour.”


  8. Study suggests “dark triad” personality traits are liabilities in hedge fund managers

    October 19, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Society for Personality and Social Psychology press release:

    When it comes to financial investments, hedge fund managers higher in “dark triad” personality traits — psychopathy, narcissism, and Machiavellianism — perform more poorly than their peers, according to new personality psychology research. The difference is a little less than 1% annually compared to their peers, but with large investments over several years that slight underperformance can add up. The results appear in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.

    While the average person doesn’t invest in hedge funds, “We should re-think our assumptions that might favor ruthlessness or callousness in an investment manager,” says Leanne ten Brinke, lead author and a social psychologist at the University of Denver. “Not only do these personality traits not improve performance, our data suggest that they many hinder it.”

    Researchers from the University of Denver and the University of California, Berkeley, measured personality traits of 101 hedge fund managers, then compared the personality types with their investments and financial returns from 2005 — 2015. They compared not only the annualized returns, but also risk measures.

    The researchers found managers with psychopathic traits made less profitable investments than peers, by just under 1% per year, but this can add up over the course of years on large investments. Managers with narcissistic traits took more investment risks to earn the same amount of money as less narcissistic peers.

    Some may be surprised that most hedge fund managers rank pretty low on the Dark Triad traits. However, the results did show correlations between personality traits, investment success, and risk management.

    These findings build on their earlier work, studying behavioral evidence of Dark Triad traits in U.S. Senators, and finding that “those who displayed behaviors associated with psychopathy were actually less likely to gain co-sponsors on their bills,” says ten Brinke. That study also showed those who displayed behaviors associated with courage, humanity, and justice, “were the most effective political leaders.”

    The results add to a growing body of literature suggesting that Dark Triad personality traits are not desirable in leaders in a variety of contexts, summarizes ten Brinke.

    “When choosing our leaders in organizations and in politics,” write the authors, “we should keep in mind that psychopathic traits — like ruthlessness and callousness — don’t produce the successful outcomes that we might expect them to.”


  9. Study looks at how disliked classes affect incidence of college student cheating

    October 13, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Ohio State University press release:

    One of the tactics that discourages student cheating may not work as well in courses that college students particularly dislike, a new study has found.

    Previous research suggests instructors who emphasize mastering the content in their classes encounter less student cheating than those who push students to get good grades.

    But this new study found emphasizing mastery isn’t related as strongly to lower rates of cheating in classes that students list as their most disliked. Students in disliked classes were equally as likely to cheat, regardless of whether the instructors emphasized mastery or good grades.

    The factor that best predicted whether a student would cheat in a disliked class was a personality trait: a high need for sensation, said Eric Anderman, co-author of the study and professor of educational psychology at The Ohio State University.

    People with a high need for sensation are risk-takers, Anderman said.

    “If you enjoy taking risks, and you don’t like the class, you may think ‘why not cheat.’ You don’t feel you have as much to lose,” he said.

    Anderman conducted the study with Sungjun Won, a graduate student in educational psychology at Ohio State. It appears online in the journal Ethics & Behavior and will be published in a future print edition.

    The study is the first to look at how academic misconduct might differ in classes that students particularly dislike.

    “You could understand why students might be less motivated in classes they don’t like and that could affect whether they were willing to cheat,” Anderman said.

    The researchers surveyed 409 students from two large research universities in different parts of the country.

    The students were asked to answer questions about the class in college that they liked the least.

    Participants were asked if they took part in any of 22 cheating behaviors in that class, including plagiarism and copying test answers from another student. The survey also asked students their beliefs about the ethics of cheating, their perceptions of how much the instructor emphasized mastery and test scores, and a variety of demographic questions, as well as a measure of sensation-seeking.

    A majority of the students (57 percent) reported a math or science course as their most disliked. Large classes were not popular: Nearly half (45 percent) said their least favorite class had more than 50 students enrolled, while two-thirds (65 percent) said the course they disliked was required for their major.

    The most interesting finding was that an emphasis on mastery or on test scores did not predict cheating in disliked classes, Anderman said.

    In 20 years of research on cheating, Anderman said he and his colleagues have consistently found that students cheated less — and believed cheating was less acceptable — in classes where the goals were intrinsic: learning and mastering the content. They were more likely to cheat in classes where they felt the emphasis was on extrinsic goals, such as successful test-taking and getting good grades.

    This study was different, Anderman said.

    In classes that emphasized mastery, some students still believed cheating was wrong, even in their most-disliked class. But when classes are disliked, the new findings suggest a focus on mastery no longer directly protects against cheating behaviors. Nevertheless, there is still a positive relation between actual cheating and the belief that cheating is morally acceptable in those classes.

    “When you have students who are risk-takers in classes that they dislike, the benefits of a class that emphasizes learning over grades seems to disappear,” he said.

    But Anderman noted that this study reinforced results from earlier studies that refute many of the common beliefs about student cheating.

    “All of the things that people think are linked to cheating don’t really matter,” he said.

    “We examined gender, age, the size of classes, whether it was a required class, whether it was graded on a curve — and none of those were related to cheating once you took into account the need for sensation in this study,” he said. “And in other studies, the classroom goals were also important.”

    The good news is that the factors that cause cheating are controllable in some measure, Anderman said. Classes can be designed to emphasize mastery and interventions could be developed to help risk-taking students.

    “We can find ways to help minimize cheating,” he said.


  10. Study suggests doing homework is associated with change in students’ personality

    October 12, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Universität Tübingen press release:

    Homework may have a positive influence on students’ conscientiousness. As results of a study conducted by University of Tübingen researchers suggest, students who do more homework than their peers show positive changes in conscientiousness. Thus, schools may be doing more than contributing to students’ learning, but they may also be effecting changes of their students’ personality. The study results were published in the Journal of Research in Personality.

    Previous research finds that homework effort is consistently related to student achievement. Also, conscientiousness appears to be the most important personality trait for predicting homework effort. With this connection in mind, proponents of homework have argued that the effort which students invest in their homework may have positive effects on students by influencing their conscientiousness. In their study, the Tübingen scientists investigated whether this claim holds true.

    They analyzed data from a longitudinal study with 2,760 students from two different school tracks in the German states of Baden-Württemberg and Saxony. Students were initially assessed right after their transition from primary to secondary school in Grade 5. For the next three years, students were assessed annually between six and eight weeks after the start of each school year. They answered questions such as how many of their last 10 homework assignments in mathematics and German they did as well as possible. Also, they were asked how conscientious they thought they were including whether they would describe themselves as tidy or rather as messy and negligent. In addition to students’ self-reports, parents were asked to assess their children’s conscientiousness as well.

    Results show that those students who invested a lot of effort in their homework between Grades 5 and 8 also profited in terms of their conscientiousness. Previous research has shown that conscientiousness tends to undergo a temporary dip in late childhood and early adolescence. As the results found by the Tübingen scientists suggest, doing your homework thoroughly and meticulously appeared to counterbalance this dip. Indeed, researchers found a substantial decrease in conscientiousness for students who reported that they had not made an effort with their homework. Those results were also backed by parents, whose reports matched those of their children.

    “Our results show that homework is not only relevant for school performance, but also for personality development — provided that students put a lot of effort into their assignments,” says Richard Göllner, first author of the study. “The question whether doing your homework can also influence the development of conscientiousness has been mostly neglected in previous discussions of the role of homework,” criticizes Ulrich Trautwein, director of the Hector Research Institute of Education Sciences and Psychology. “We need to define more precisely what expectations we have of the potential of homework and how those expectations can be fulfilled.”