541-547 of 547 Results


Working Memory  

Tom Hartley and Graham J. Hitch

Working memory is an aspect of human memory that permits the maintenance and manipulation of temporary information in the service of goal-directed behavior. Its apparently inelastic capacity limits impose constraints on a huge range of activities from language learning to planning, problem-solving, and decision-making. A substantial body of empirical research has revealed reliable benchmark effects that extend to a wide range of different tasks and modalities. These effects support the view that working memory comprises distinct components responsible for attention-like control and for short-term storage. However, the nature of these components, their potential subdivision, and their interrelationships with long-term memory and other aspects of cognition, such as perception and action, remain controversial and are still under investigation. Although working memory has so far resisted theoretical consensus and even a clear-cut definition, research findings demonstrate its critical role in both enabling and limiting human cognition and behavior.


Working Memory and Cognitive Aging  

Paul Verhaeghen

Working memory as a temporary buffer for cognitive processing is an essential part of the cognitive system. Its capacity and select aspects of its functioning are age sensitive, more so for spatial than verbal material. Assumed causes for this decline include a decline in cognitive resources (such as speed of processing), and/or a breakdown in basic control processes (resistance to interference, task coordination, memory updating, binding, and/or top-down control as inferred from neuroimaging data). Meta-analyses suggest that a decline in cognitive resources explains much more of the age-related variance in true working memory tasks than a breakdown in basic control processes, although the latter is highly implicated in tasks of passive storage. The age-related decline in working memory capacity has downstream effects on more complex aspects of cognition (episodic memory, spatial cognition, and reasoning ability). Working memory remains plastic in old age, and training in working memory and cognitive control processes yields near transfer effects, but little evidence for strong far transfer.


Work Motivation  

James M. Diefendorff, Megan E. Kenworthy, Faith C. Lee, and Linh K. Nguyen

The topic of work motivation permeates industrial/organizational psychology literature due to its established connections with attitudes, affect, well-being, behavior, and performance. Work motivation refers to the direction, intensity, and persistence of job-related behaviors. The concept of goals is essential to understanding motivation because goals represent desired end states toward which motivated effort and persistence are directed. Goal-based processes can be conceptualized in two main phases: goal setting and goal striving. Goal setting involves the selection of a goal after consideration of the feasibility (i.e., expectancy) and desirability (i.e., valence) of potential goals, and goal striving involves planning for and engaging in goal pursuit through the expenditure of effort and other resources. Goals are hierarchically arranged with more specific, shorter term goals toward the bottom of the hierarchy and more abstract, longer term goals toward the top of the hierarchy. Lower level goals represent the means by which higher level goals are attained. Multiple goals naturally exist in most real-world situations, so there is the need to prioritize and balance goal pursuit, with research outlining a number of factors that can aid in this prioritization, including goal expectancies, affect, and distance from goal attainment. Goals differ in a number of ways that have implications for performance and well-being. Two key ways are especially relevant for the workplace: (a) goals focused on approaching desirable outcomes versus goals focused on avoiding undesirable outcomes and (b) goals emanating from the self versus coming from the environment. The implication is that not all goal pursuit is equally beneficial for individuals and organizations.


Work Performance Management and Assessment  

Rose Mueller-Hanson

Performance management is a collection of activities designed to help individuals and organizations improve performance. It includes setting expectations, monitoring progress, providing feedback, evaluating results, and using performance information to make talent decisions. Despite decades of research, little evidence supports the assertion that performance management leads to improvements in either individual or organizational performance, leading to a fierce debate about its usefulness. Critics charge that performance management is often too time-consuming and cumbersome, providing little value for all the effort required. Proponents argue that performance management is essential for aligning individual work to organizational goals, ensuring fairness in rewards, and protecting organizations against legal challenges. Controversies aside, the vast majority of organizations have a performance management system that includes formal performance reviews, the results of which are tied to compensation or other talent decisions. Organizations are increasingly seeking ways to streamline the process, simplify practices, and find more value. Achieving these goals entails defining the purpose that performance management should serve and implementing the specific components of performance management that are most likely to foster effective performance.


Work, Stress, Coping, and Stress Management  

Sharon Glazer and Cong Liu

Work stress refers to the process of job stressors, or stimuli in the workplace, leading to strains, or negative responses or reactions. Organizational development refers to a process in which problems or opportunities in the work environment are identified, plans are made to remediate or capitalize on the stimuli, action is taken, and subsequently the results of the plans and actions are evaluated. When organizational development strategies are used to assess work stress in the workplace, the actions employed are various stress management interventions. Two key factors tying work stress and organizational development are the role of the person and the role of the environment. In order to cope with work-related stressors and manage strains, organizations must be able to identify and differentiate between factors in the environment that are potential sources of stressors and how individuals perceive those factors. Primary stress management interventions focus on preventing stressors from even presenting, such as by clearly articulating workers’ roles and providing necessary resources for employees to perform their job. Secondary stress management interventions focus on a person’s appraisal of job stressors as a threat or challenge, and the person’s ability to cope with the stressors (presuming sufficient internal resources, such as a sense of meaningfulness in life, or external resources, such as social support from a supervisor). When coping is not successful, strains may develop. Tertiary stress management interventions attempt to remediate strains, by addressing the consequence itself (e.g., diabetes management) and/or the source of the strain (e.g., reducing workload). The person and/or the organization may be the targets of the intervention. The ultimate goal of stress management interventions is to minimize problems in the work environment, intensify aspects of the work environment that create a sense of a quality work context, enable people to cope with stressors that might arise, and provide tools for employees and organizations to manage strains that might develop despite all best efforts to create a healthy workplace.


Worldview Defense, Prejudice, and Derogating Others  

Michelle Bal and Kees Van den Bos

In the literature on prejudice and derogatory reactions, two prominent lines of research can be distinguished, one focusing on the expression and endorsement of (mostly) negative stereotypes and prejudice, and one zooming in on how defense of cultural worldviews can lead to derogatory reactions toward those who are different from ourselves. Research on both stereotypes/prejudice and cultural worldviews reveals how personal uncertainty can lead to the occurrence of derogatory reactions. In research on prejudice, the automaticity of stereotyping and prejudice has been the subject of debate. Some scholars argue for the inevitability of stereotyping, as these processes are assumed to be automatic and inevitable. By contrast, other scholars distinguish automatic stereotype activation from more controlled stereotype endorsement. Importantly, stereotype activation may be altered by stereotype-negation training reducing the expression of prejudice. In worldview defense research, it is shown how uncertainty-related motives and other worldview threats are related to the expression of derogatory reactions toward those who fall outside our scope of justice. In contemporary society, people frequently have to deal with feelings of personal uncertainty, especially regarding future-oriented delayed outcomes. To cope with these feelings, people adhere to their cultural worldviews. These belief systems enable people to strive for long-term goals, but also make them more vulnerable to expressing prejudice and other derogatory reactions. A wealth of research shows that when people’s worldviews are threatened, they tend to react more rigidly and negatively toward others, especially toward those who belong to an outgroup. For example, if one believes that the world is inherently just (i.e. in studies looking at “just world beliefs”), interacting with innocent victims of crimes can threaten this worldview. In the face of this conflict, people sometimes respond in derogatory and prejudiced ways toward those victims in order to uphold their belief that the world is a just place where bad things can only happen to bad people. Importantly, alleviating feelings of personal uncertainty (either by affirming personal certainty or by refocusing attention toward other aspects of an unjust situation) can reduce derogatory reactions and instigate benevolent reactions focused on helping those who are less well off.


Worry and Rumination  

Ed Watkins

Worry and rumination are both forms of repetitive negative thought (RNT) characterized by repetitive and often uncontrollable thinking about negative content. Rumination is typically defined as repetitive thinking about the symptoms, causes, circumstances, meanings, and consequences of negative mood, personal concerns, and upsetting experiences, often with a focus on depressive experience. Worry is typically defined as repetitive thinking about future potential threat, imagined catastrophes, uncertainties, and risks and is conceptualized as an attempt to avoid negative events, prepare for the worst, and problem-solve. Worry and rumination are implicated in the exacerbation of negative mood and negative thinking, reduced central executive resources, impaired problem- solving, and prolonged sympathetic activation and emotional responses to stress and, as such, transdiagnostically contribute to the onset and maintenance of multiple emotional disorders, including major depression, anxiety disorders, insomnia, eating disorders, substance and alcohol abuse, and psychosis. Both worry and rumination are implicated in poor response to psychological interventions—greater reduction in RNT is associated with greater symptom improvement, whereas no change in RNT is associated with no improvement or worsening of symptoms. Rumination and worry appear to be moderately genetically heritable and predicted by environmental factors such as early adversity, stressful life events, and unhelpful parental styles. RNT is a common pathway between multiple risk factors, including neglect, abuse, bullying, and chronic stress, and later psychopathology. Pathological worry and rumination share an abstract processing style, negative biases in attention and interpretation, and impaired executive control and are mental habits. Both worry and rumination have been hypothesized to serve an avoidant function. Interventions that target these mechanisms appear to be effective at tackling RNT, particularly rumination-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based interventions. More efficient interventions for anxiety and depression may result from interventions that target multiple of these proximal mechanisms.