Posts Tagged decision

Will you read this post? Think about it…

Will he or won't he?

Will he or won't he?

What do you think would motivate people more — getting them to focus on what they are about to do or asking them to think about whether they will do it or not?

When a group of students were given one or the other of these contemplative tasks before facing an anagrams exercise, the ones who had asked themselves whether they would do it completed more anagrams than the group who were just thinking about doing it.

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Decision makers want information…or do they?

Joe Friday - Dragnet 'Just the facts, ma'am'

Just the facts, ma'am.

In a paper soon to be published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Reeshad Dalal and Silvia Bonaccio tried to examine what decision makers want from people who give them advice.

See this post on the BPS Research Digest for a quick summary of the article.

The conclusion they came to was that people making decisions often prefer ‘the provision of information about alternatives’ to other types of advice or assistance.

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RIASEC hats

Hats

Which one of these is realistic?

In The Careers Group hold regular guidance forums. These are informal learning meetings for careers advisers to discuss any guidance related issues. The last forum was run by a couple of colleagues, Jeff and Tracy, who have some experience of different forms of coaching. During the meeting, Jeff demonstrated a technique to help people address a difficult situation they may be facing. This involved getting the ‘client’ to look at their situation from a number of different angles (literally by moving around) and different perspectives.

In this particular example, the ‘client’ had to perceive the situation from the viewpoint of their colourful stripey shirt, the window, the clock, their cat, etc. Each viewpoint really represented a different aspect of the client’s personality. The stripey shirt represented their fun-loving side. The clock represented their meticulous, slightly obsessive side. The window represented their forward thinking side. Etc.

All of these perspectives were generated by the client with spontaneous, intuitive guidance from Jeff. It was fascinating to watch and I could see how useful it might be to help a client break out of habitual ways of viewing their situation.

I have also observed an adviser experiment with a similar technique in which she got the client to look at her situation from the perspective of a hero or role model. Again, this was an inspiring bit of risk taking which worked really well.

However, in both cases I was left wondering how many clients or advisers would be comfortable with that level of improvisation and whether there might be some more structured way of approaching it.

Career theory to the rescue! Read the rest of this entry »

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Are you a maximiser or a satisficer?

Imagine that you were receiving feedback on something you had worked on along with a colleague. Which of these two scenarios would you prefer?

  • Scenario 1: You receive great feedback from your supervisor, but your colleague receives even better feedback.
  • Scenario 2: You receive really negative feedback from your supervisor but your colleague receives significantly worse feedback.

On the face of it, Scenario 1 seems to be the best situation; you are receiving great feedback rather than negative feedback. However, in one study, certain people experiencing Scenario 2 reported feeling happier and more self confident than those experiencing Scenario 1. They would rather do better than their peers even if it meant performing much worse overall. Not everyone felt this way, though. In fact, it was only people who reported themselves as being generally unhappy who engaged in this social comparison. Happy people were just pleased to get a good report and didn’t measure themselves against other people.

What makes some people more sensitive to their relative success than to their absolute success? And what implications does this have for career decision making?

According to Barry Schwartz and his colleagues the unhappy people are ‘maximisers’ and the happy people are ‘saticficers’.

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Can you be positive about uncertainty?

Tunnel in the fog

What's around the corner? Can you cope with not knowing for certain?

As an antidote to some of the recent posts which have examined ways of overcoming irrationality in decision making, it is time to highlight a celebration of the intuitive and the acceptance of ambiguity.

The concept of Positive Uncertainty has had a strong influence on some of the modern theories of career choice — especially those which emphasise chance and complexity, such as planned happenstance or the chaos theory of careers. The idea was introduced in 1989 by H.B. Gelatt (who appears to call himself H.B. — possibly to induce uncertainty in those he meets) and it was a complete turnaround from an earlier article he wrote advocating a totally rational approach to decision making.

Gelatt, H.B. (1989) Positive uncertainty: A new decision-making framework for counseling. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 36(2), 252-6.

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Dialectical bootstrapping

Boots

Are they dialectical?

How could I resist writing about a technique with such a delightfully preposterous name! It has the same ridiculous elegance as ‘planned happenstance‘ and ‘positive compromise‘.

In an earlier post I wrote about how people can be induced to disagree with their own decisions. This wonderfully over-the-top phrase describes a technique which involves getting people to disagree with themselves on purpose in order to increase the accuracy of their predictions without reference to external opinions. See! Dialectical bootstrapping is a much more elegant way of saying all that!

[Herzog, S.M. & Hertwig, R. (2009) The wisdom of many in one mind: Improving individual judgments with dialectical bootstrapping. Psychological Science, 20(2), 231-7.]

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Can you disagree with yourself?

The brain

The different areas of this brain couldn't agree on a colour scheme.

In 1977 Joseph LeDoux and colleagues conducted an interesting experiment on a boy whose left and right brain hemispheres had been surgically separated. They set up a system in which they could ask questions to the separate halves of his brain. Because the left hemisphere controls many aspects of speech, the right brain had to spell out its answers using Scrabble tiles.  [LeDoux, J.E., Wilson, D.H. & Gazzaniga, M.S. (1977) A divided mind: Observations on the conscious properties of the separated hemispheres. Annals of Neurology, 2(5) 417-421.]

One of the questions they asked was about what job he would like. The left brain said ‘draftsman’ but the right brain spelled out ‘automobile race’. Because the left brain controls language, it gets to articulate its choices, but the right brain may have other ideas.

The left brain is often associated with linear reasoning, structure and detail and the right brain with holistic reasoning,  emotional tone and the big picture – although the real situation is more complex. Apparently, the picture of the spinning dancer below can tell you if you naturally favour your right or left brain. If she appears to be spinning anti-clockwise, you’re a left-brainer, clockwise and you’re a right-brainer. If you think this test is a bit simplistic — that’s a no-brainer. Actually, If this test tells you anything, it may only be which half of your brain you favour at a particular moment for certain types of visual processing and perception, but that may not be true for other functions, or it may be nothing to do with left-right brain differences.

Another more recent set of studies did not involve sliced brains but a more subtle manipulation of social identities in order to produce an internal conflict of opinions.

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Poor students!

Peter Mandelson and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills have launched Higher Ambitions, the new framework for higher education.

Some news commentators have picked up on the recommendations that universities take more account of the social context of candidates during university recruitment and to prioritise measures that widen access to those from underprivileged backgrounds.

Even if one achieves the laudable aim of getting more students from deprived upbringings into higher education, will they be fully equipped to take advantage of the opportunity in order to develop their career decision making?

A report by Paul Greenbank and Sue Hepworth from Edge Hill University, Working class students and the career decision-making process, looks at ways in which the working class students who make it to university can still be disadvantaged in the job market. It makes interesting reading and challenges some of the assumptions that are made about such issues.

  • What are we doing to equip and re-equip underprivileged students when they get to university?
  • Should we have targetted programmes in place to help deal with the disadvantages that such students may carry with them?

Related postLet the right one in

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The First Model

Ok, ok, this isn’t a trawl through the back issues of Hello Magazine to identify the ‘first’ ever model, instead a look at the FIRST Framework. I came across this model a few weeks ago and initially really connected with its simplicity. FIRST stands for: Focus, Information, Realism, Scope and Tactics. The dimensions of the FIRST framework can be used as a diagnostic tool to ascertain the stage the client is at in their career thinking.

  • Focus:  How far has the client narrowed down their options?
  • Information: How well-informed are they about the career options they are considering?
  • Realism: How realistic is the client (both in relation to own abilities and the constraints of the market)?
  • Scope: How aware is the client of the range of options available?
  • Tactics: To what extent has the client worked out the steps to achieve their career objectives?

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Positive compromise

I want to continue this short series of posts based around the theme of compromise by looking at a more modern developments.

In 2004 Charles Chen introduced the concept of positive compromise (Positive compromise: a new perspective for career psychology. Australian Journal of Career Development, 13(2) 2004). Compromise within career choice is generally considered a negative concept. Chen proposes that compromise will always be part of career choice in a complex and rapidly-changing world. Therefore, it makes sense to understand how to engage with compromise in constructive way.
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