Do playful people get better grades in school?

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Eric Barker  -  
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Yes:

The study examines the relation between subjectively assessed adult playfulness and psychometric and self-estimated intelligence in a sample of 254 students. As expected, playfulness existed widely independently from psychometric intelligence. Correlations pointed in the direction of higher expressive playfulness and numeric intelligence and lower creative playfulness and figural intelligence. However, the size of the coefficients suggests that the results should not be over-interpreted. The same was true for self-estimates of intelligence. Those scoring lower in the total score of all self-estimates (median split) yielded higher scores in creative playfulness but those with higher self-estimates were higher in the silly-aspects of playfulness (i.e., childlike or unpredictable). Playfulness was associated with better academic performance (i.e., better grades in an exam). Also, students who described themselves as playful were more likely to do the extra reading that went beyond what was needed to pass the exam. This can be seen as first evidence of a positive relation between playfulness in adults and academic achievement. Data are interpreted within current literature and future research directions are given.

Research highlights

►First study to address psychometric and self-estimated intelligence as well as academic performance and playfulness in (young) adults.

►Adult playfulness exists widely independently from psychometric intelligence.

►Self-estimated intelligence tended to be negatively related to intelligence (however, coefficients were rather low).

►Higher playfulness was associated with better grades in an exam at the university level.

►Playfulness in adults seems to contribute positively to academic performance.

Source: “Being playful and smart? The relations of adult playfulness with psychometric and self-estimated intelligence and academic performance” from Learning and Individual Differences

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Does superstition actually increase performance?

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Eric Barker  -  
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Yes:

Superstitions are typically seen as inconsequential creations of irrational minds. Nevertheless, many people rely on superstitious thoughts and practices in their daily routines in order to gain good luck. To date, little is known about the consequences and potential benefits of such superstitions. The present research closes this gap by demonstrating performance benefits of superstitions and identifying their underlying psychological mechanisms. Specifically, Experiments 1 through 4 show that activating good-luck-related superstitions via a common saying or action (e.g., “break a leg,” keeping one’s fingers crossed) or a lucky charm improves subsequent performance in golfing, motor dexterity, memory, and anagram games. Furthermore, Experiments 3 and 4 demonstrate that these performance benefits are produced by changes in perceived self-efficacy. Activating a superstition boosts participants’ confidence in mastering upcoming tasks, which in turn improves performance. Finally, Experiment 4 shows that increased task persistence constitutes one means by which self-efficacy, enhanced by superstition, improves performance.

Source: “Keep Your Fingers Crossed! How Superstition Improves Performance” from Psychological Science


Can just looking at Red Bull improve performance?

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Eric Barker  -  
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We show that brand exposure can have double-sided effects on behavior, with brand identity associations creating both positive and negative effects on objective consumer performance. Experimental results from a racing game involving functionally identical cars with differently branded paint jobs show that Red Bull branding creates a U-shaped effect on race performance, as Red Bull’s brand identity of speed, power, and recklessness work both for and against the players. Even though brands were exposed supraliminally, effects traveled through nonconscious channels. Double-edged effects of branding on consumer performance could be increasingly important as ambient advertising and product cobranding become more commonplace.

Source: “Red Bull “Gives You Wings” for better or worse: A double-edged impact of brand exposure on consumer performance” from Journal of Consumer Psychology

So you might want to be careful what advertising is around you before you do important things. Me, I’m just going to make sure that there are posters for the next James Bond movie up EVERYWHERE I GO.

My friend Adam is one of the authors of the study. His web page is here.

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Should you use time management with your free time?

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Eric Barker  -  
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It might increase quality of life:

This study was designed to identify the relationship between free time management and quality of life, exploring whether the amount of free time or the way people using their free time relates to their quality of life. Data were collected from National Pingtung University of Science and Technology in Taiwan. Of the 500 questionnaires distribute, 403 usable questionnaires were received with an 81% response rate. The result has found a positive relationship between free time management and quality of life. Contrary to this, there was no significant relationship between time allocation and quality of life. Results might indicate that people who manage their free time well lead to better quality of life. Suggestions based on the observed relationship and directions for future researches were discussed.

Source: “Free Time Management Contributes to Better Quality of Life: A Study of Undergraduate Students in Taiwan” from Journal of Happiness Studies

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Do collectivist cultures produce better sports teams?

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Eric Barker  -  
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Yes:

Purpose. Research outside sport psychology indicates that collectivist cultures positively influence group achievements. Because of this results of sports teams from collectivist cultures should be better than those of their counterparts from individualist cultures. This hypothesis was examined in two studies. Basic procedures. (1) In study I, 15 coaches, using the IC Interpersonal Assessment Inventory (ICIAI), enumerated characteristics that a perfect team member should possess. (2) In study II, individual results (achieved between 2001 and 2008) of four top Japanese and Brazilian athletes (collectivist cultures) and American and British (individualist cultures) were compared against the best 4 × 100 m relay results from these countries. Main findings. (1) In the coaches’ opinion players of team sports should definitely be more collectivist than individualist in relation to the values professed. (2) In the context of athlete’s potential, the Japanese and Brazilian relay teams achieved generally better results than their American and British counterparts. Conclusions. The obtained results show that collectivist cultures not only facilitate and favor the development of sports teams, but also enhance their performance.

Source: “Influence of Culture on Sports Achievements: The Case of Sprint Relay Teams from Japan, Brazil, the USA and Great Britain” from Human Movement, Volume 10, Number 2 / December 2009

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