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What can be the causes of the difference in performance?

What can be the causes of the difference in performance?


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The box-plot above represents the number of programming tasks performed correctly in 30 minutes during an experiment by me. Each box represents an age group:

  • p1 = 6 - 7 years old
  • p2 = 7 - 8 years old
  • p6 = 11 - 12 years old

  • s1 = 12 - 13 years old
  • s2 = 13 - 14 years old

  • b1 = 16 - 17 years old
  • b2 = 17 - 18 years old

When I see the results, I am surprised by the difference between p4, p5 and p6. The set of tasks was almost identical by age. The only difference is that by increasing the age they have some less start tasks. I think it may be due to the ability of reading comprehension and motor development…

Are there more factors that can influence?

UPDATE


Are those reliable differences? Without knowing what confidence intervals you plotted it's difficult to estimate visually (95%? ±1 SD?), but I wouldn't be surprised that there are no statistically significant performance differences between those levels. Keep in mind that if this test emerged only after seeing the data, rather than a priori based on theory, then that changes how to interpret the significance of such tests and makes them less trustworthy:

HARKing: Hypothesizing After the Results are Known http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1207/s15327957pspr0203_4

The main finding seems to be an increase with age, possibly non-linear. Thresholding could be due to the task complexity.


That swimsuit becomes you: sex differences in self-objectification, restrained eating, and math performance

Objectification theory (B. L. Fredrickson & T. Roberts, 1997) posits that American culture socializes women to adopt observers' perspectives on their physical selves. This self-objectification is hypothesized to (a) produce body shame, which in turn leads to restrained eating, and (b) consume attentional resources, which is manifested in diminished mental performance. Two experiments manipulated self-objectification by having participants try on a swimsuit or a sweater. Experiment 1 tested 72 women and found that self-objectification increased body shame, which in turn predicted restrained eating. Experiment 2 tested 42 women and 40 men and found that these effects on body shame and restrained eating replicated for women only. Additionally, self-objectification diminished math performance for women only. Discussion centers on the causes and consequences of objectifying women's bodies.


‘Human Factors’ and ‘Human Performance’: What’s the difference?

The term ‘Human Performance’ (and ‘Human and Organisational Performance’ (or HOP) has become increasingly common in recent years in a number of industries, especially those with a safety focus. It is often associated with ‘Human Factors’, or even used as a replacement for the term. But in some cases, different practitioners have identified with one term or both. So I thought it might be useful to clarify a few important distinctions between the two.

Clement127 CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/qr4XXW

In this post, I use ‘Human Factors’ and ‘Human Performance’ (mixed case) to refer to spheres of academic research/teaching and practice in applied contexts by internal and consultants (e.g., Human Factors Specialist, Human Performance Specialist). But there is another, more ordinary meaning of ‘human performance’ (lower case), as simply what people do and how. This ordinary meaning is not the focus of this post.

Human Factors emerged from many disciplines. ‘Human Factors’ (or Ergonomics) emerged from disciplines including psychology, anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, anthropometry, industrial design and engineering, industrial medicine, industrial hygiene, sociology, architecture, illumination engineering, interaction design, visual design, and user interface design. Still today, journals and textbooks cover all of these disciplines, and none dominates singly, but Human Factors now sits as a discipline itself (see later). Those who practise as qualified Human Factors professionals today tend to come mainly from psychology, engineering and physiology/biomedical academic backgrounds.

Human Performance is related primarily to psychology and physiology. ‘Human Performance’ as a sphere of research and practice is related primarily to psychology in industry, and to physiology and sports science in sport and leisure. For industrial applications, psychology dominates in discussions (evident on social media), and in research, though theory is not particularly well-connected to practice (arguably less so than for Human Factors). One of the very few academic textbooks for industrial applications with ‘Human Performance’ in the title (Matthews et al, 2000) is written by four academic psychologists, and covers cognition, stress, and individual differences. (Other books that mention Human Performance in the subtitle mostly concern sport and exercise.)

‘Human Factors’ emerged from many disciplines, with none dominating completely. Human Performance is related primarily to psychology, physiology, and sports science, with psychology dominating industrial applications.

Human Factors is a discipline. ‘Human Factors’ emerged as a distinct field of academic study – taught and researched as part of higher education – over time since WWII (see this chapter and this article by Pat Waterson). The first learned Society (now CIEHF) was set up in 1949, and during the 1950s and 1960s, Professorial Chairs, postgraduate degree courses, and scientific journals were established. But for some time, Human Factors/Ergonomics was a “convenient gathering place” (Rodgers, 1959) for a variety of stakeholders, including other disciplines. Human Factors is now considered a distinct scientific and design discipline, with university departments/schools, research institutes, professors, conferences, and scientific journals, including Human Factors, Ergonomics, and Applied Ergonomics (the top three journals in the discipline).

Human Performance is an interdisciplinary focus. ‘Human Performance’ is not a discipline as such, but rather an interdisciplinary focus. It has long been associated with sport and exercise, with performance in extreme environments, and with work, but as a focus of activity for sports scientists, physiologists and industrial-organizational psychologists. There are scientific journals associated with the term Human Performance (but not many). Examples include Human Performance, Journal of Human Performance in Extreme Environments, and Organisational Behaviour and Human Performance (1966-1984 ). There are few university schools/departments and Professors of ‘Human Performance’. Those that exist tend to focus on sport and exercise science.

‘Human Factors’ is a distinct discipline, as well as a forum for other disciplines that share a similar focus. ‘Human Performance’ is not a distinct discipline, though it is a focus of, or umbrella for, allied human sciences.

Human Factors is a profession. The profession of ‘Human Factors Engineer’/’Ergonomist’ emerged (unexpectedly) over 50 years ago, and is now associated with specialised education, recognised qualification routes, professional associations, and associated codes of conduct. Specialists are now employed in many industries – especially safety critical industries – such as aviation, rail, military, nuclear, oil and gas, and healthcare. These roles tend to require formal, post-graduate degree qualifications in Human Factors (or Ergonomics), and/or certification (‘Chartership’ in the UK) by recognised professional bodies. Membership of professional bodies requires adherence to a Code of Conduct (such as this from CIEHF).

Human Performance is not yet a profession. ‘Human Performance’ cannot be described as a profession, with specialised education, recognised qualification routes, professional associations, and associated codes of conduct. This may emerge in the future. Sometimes, those who identify as ‘Human Performance Specialists’ are full members of professional associations for disciplines such as Human Factors, Industrial/Organisational Psychology, Medicine, Sports Science, etc. More commonly, Human Performance (or Human and Organisational Performance) is a term adopted by health and safety practitioners, and is sometimes described as a ‘movement’.

‘Human Factors’ is a distinct profession, and is also sometimes used by other allied professions with similar aims and scopes. ‘Human Performance’ is not a profession, but is a focus of interest for allied professions.

Human Factors and Ergonomics are considered roughly equivalent. Within the discipline and profession, the terms ‘Human Factors’ and ‘Ergonomics’ are generally considered equivalent. The scope of research units, schools, and journals, and the official internationally-accepted definition, is equivalent. Different terms are, however, used in different industries and contexts. Human Factors Specialists tend to be happy with either title, depending on the context (the formal Chartered title in the UK is ‘Chartered Ergonomist and Human Factors Specialist’.)

Human Performance and Ergonomics are considered more distinct. While human performance (what people do and how they do it – concerning physical, cognitive, social aspects) is of course of critical interest to Ergonomics, the terms are not equivalent. Those who identify as ‘Human Performance Specialists’ tend not to identify as ‘Ergonomists’, unless they are qualified in Ergonomics. ‘Ergonomics’ has clear design connotations, while ‘Human Performance’ tends to have training connotations, or (lowercase) human performance is simply seen as something that people do – perform.

Human Factors and Ergonomics are considered roughly equivalent within the discipline, and by many in the profession. Human Performance is of interest to Ergonomics (Human Factors), but also of many other disciplines.

Human Factors has a design focus. ‘Human Factors’ interventions tend to have a design focus. This has been the method of intervention since the inception of HF in WWII, and since then in many definitions, including that of the International Ergonomics Association (adopted by all Human Factors [or Ergonomics] professional associations), to apply “theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance” (IEA). ‘Design thinking’ is therefore inseparable from Human Factors.

Human Performance has a behavioural focus . ‘Human Performance’ interventions by those who identify as Human Performance Specialists tend to have a more direct behaviour modification focus, frequently associated with safe behaviour, leadership, culture, and teamwork. The primary methods of intervention for Human Performance are primarily training, coaching, awareness-raising, and behaviour change methods that tend not to be design-led. ‘Design thinking’ is not necessarily associated with Human Performance (though it may be, in some interventions and publications) .

Human Factors and Human Performance tend to have different modes of intervention. Human Factors tends to have a design focus, while Human Performance tends to have a behaviour modification focus.

Human Factors is concerned with system performance. ‘Human Factors’ concerns “interactions among humans and other elements of a system” (IEA). It has an military-industrial heritage, with a focus on the sociotechnical system. This system focus can be confusing, especially outside of the discipline, where it is sometimes associated with ‘factors of humans’ (which is, confusingly, more aligned with Human Performance). The focus is therefore not only human performance per se, but system performance more generally, with human performance being a key influence on this. Human performance at an individual or team level could be considered effective (locally), but – by the nature of system interactions – produce unwanted effects at a higher system level, or in another part of the system, or be detrimental to human wellbeing. ‘Systems thinking’ is inseparable from Human Factors.

Human Performance is concerned with individual and team performance. ‘Human Performance’ is primarily focused on the performance of individuals and teams (and organisations, in the case of Human and Organisational Performance) – what people do, and how. Academically, it has a human science heritage, in sport and exercise science, physiology (endurance and survival in extreme environments), and also industrial-organisational psychology. ‘ Systems thinking’ is not necessarily associated with Human Performance (though it may be, in some interventions and publications) .

Human Factors, despite the name, is concerned with system performance, as a discipline and profession. Human Performance tends to be concerned with individual and team performance, as a focus for various disciplines and professions.

Summing up

‘Human Performance’ is seemingly self-evident in its focus it is about what it says on the tin – human performance. It is not a distinct discipline or profession, but offers a convenient gathering place for those who are interested in improving human performance. ‘Human Performance’, as used by some health and safety professionals now (who sometimes identify as Human Performance or Human and Organisational Performance specialists) is, in some respects, in a similar position to that of ‘Human Factors’ (and ‘Ergonomics’) in the 1960s. It is also in a similar position to ‘User Experience’ or UX a decade or two ago (compared to Human Computer Interaction, Usability Engineering or Interaction Design).

Whether ‘Human Performance’ should become a discipline and profession is a matter of opinion. But since there are already a number of academic disciplines and professions concerned with human performance, I would say this is unnecessary and unhelpful. I would also say that it is unhelpful to call it a ‘movement’. Rather, the term ‘human performance’ is more useful in a multi-disciplinary, non-professionalised (or multi-professional) way concerning what people do, and how, and to bring people together to talk about this, somewhat like ‘systems thinking’. It is something of interest to many stakeholders

But I see three key future risks for ‘Human Performance’ as a ‘movement’. The first risk is that – disconnected from a discipline – it becomes allied with populist science, without an evidence base in pragmatic science. Populist science can appeal to industry, but takes practice further from theory, to the point that intervention may be ineffective or counterproductive.

The second risk for the Human Performance movement is that – disconnected from a profession – clients of services related to Human Performance do not really know who or what they are getting, and have no recourse to a code of conduct and associated professional association. Clients therefore have to ensure the person employed or contracted is suitably qualified and experienced for the work, whether it is labelled as ‘Human Performance’ or ‘Human Factors’.

The third risk is that the term ‘Human Performance’, as often used by HP/HOP consultants, may reinforce behavioural approaches to improvement (training, coaching, supervision, monitoring, behaviour-based safety), at the expense of system and design approaches, which may well be more effective. As Sanders and McCormick (1987) stated in their textbook Human Factors in Engineering and Design, “it is easier to bend metal than twist arms”. And so we should be wary of abandoning ‘Human Factors’ for a term that may be on trend, but risks taking us back to an ideology of only fitting the human to the task, rather than (first) fitting the task to the human.

This post reflects on developments in a number of industries concerning the growth of ‘Human Performance’ as a movement or sphere of activity for internal and external consultants – separate from, equivalent to, an aspect of, or even subsuming ‘Human Factors’ as a discipline and profession. In some cases, the terms Human Factors and Human Performance refer to rather different things as spheres of professional activity. In others, and for some publications, they refer to closely related things or the same thing, but with one term or the other being used depending on the purpose, scope and readership. This White Paper on Human Performance in Air Traffic Management Safety, for instance (for which I was lead editor) is arguably more about Human Factors, though it does not include human wellbeing in its scope (which is core to the definition of Human Factors and Ergonomics). This Human Performance Standard of Excellence (also within air traffic management) similarly includes design and behavioural approaches, and also mentions wellbeing. Again, this is more aligned with Human Factors (in a non-professionalised way), but the term human performance is used. So ‘Human Performance’ as movement or a sphere of research and professional activity is different to ‘human performance’ as simply what people do and how. Both of the above publications essentially concern ‘human performance’ (lowercase) in the ordinary sense – what people do and how they do it, and how to improve that using training, design, management, and other interventions. In summary, in some applications, publications, and contexts, either term may be used with essentially the same meaning, while in others, the terms have somewhat different meanings and implications, and even the meaning of ‘human performance’/’Human Performance’ (and even ‘human factors‘/’Human Factors‘) can differ.


‘Human Factors’ and ‘Human Performance’: What’s the difference?

The term ‘Human Performance’ (and ‘Human and Organisational Performance’ (or HOP) has become increasingly common in recent years in a number of industries, especially those with a safety focus. It is often associated with ‘Human Factors’, or even used as a replacement for the term. But in some cases, different practitioners have identified with one term or both. So I thought it might be useful to clarify a few important distinctions between the two.

Clement127 CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/qr4XXW

In this post, I use ‘Human Factors’ and ‘Human Performance’ (mixed case) to refer to spheres of academic research/teaching and practice in applied contexts by internal and consultants (e.g., Human Factors Specialist, Human Performance Specialist). But there is another, more ordinary meaning of ‘human performance’ (lower case), as simply what people do and how. This ordinary meaning is not the focus of this post.

Human Factors emerged from many disciplines. ‘Human Factors’ (or Ergonomics) emerged from disciplines including psychology, anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, anthropometry, industrial design and engineering, industrial medicine, industrial hygiene, sociology, architecture, illumination engineering, interaction design, visual design, and user interface design. Still today, journals and textbooks cover all of these disciplines, and none dominates singly, but Human Factors now sits as a discipline itself (see later). Those who practise as qualified Human Factors professionals today tend to come mainly from psychology, engineering and physiology/biomedical academic backgrounds.

Human Performance is related primarily to psychology and physiology. ‘Human Performance’ as a sphere of research and practice is related primarily to psychology in industry, and to physiology and sports science in sport and leisure. For industrial applications, psychology dominates in discussions (evident on social media), and in research, though theory is not particularly well-connected to practice (arguably less so than for Human Factors). One of the very few academic textbooks for industrial applications with ‘Human Performance’ in the title (Matthews et al, 2000) is written by four academic psychologists, and covers cognition, stress, and individual differences. (Other books that mention Human Performance in the subtitle mostly concern sport and exercise.)

‘Human Factors’ emerged from many disciplines, with none dominating completely. Human Performance is related primarily to psychology, physiology, and sports science, with psychology dominating industrial applications.

Human Factors is a discipline. ‘Human Factors’ emerged as a distinct field of academic study – taught and researched as part of higher education – over time since WWII (see this chapter and this article by Pat Waterson). The first learned Society (now CIEHF) was set up in 1949, and during the 1950s and 1960s, Professorial Chairs, postgraduate degree courses, and scientific journals were established. But for some time, Human Factors/Ergonomics was a “convenient gathering place” (Rodgers, 1959) for a variety of stakeholders, including other disciplines. Human Factors is now considered a distinct scientific and design discipline, with university departments/schools, research institutes, professors, conferences, and scientific journals, including Human Factors, Ergonomics, and Applied Ergonomics (the top three journals in the discipline).

Human Performance is an interdisciplinary focus. ‘Human Performance’ is not a discipline as such, but rather an interdisciplinary focus. It has long been associated with sport and exercise, with performance in extreme environments, and with work, but as a focus of activity for sports scientists, physiologists and industrial-organizational psychologists. There are scientific journals associated with the term Human Performance (but not many). Examples include Human Performance, Journal of Human Performance in Extreme Environments, and Organisational Behaviour and Human Performance (1966-1984 ). There are few university schools/departments and Professors of ‘Human Performance’. Those that exist tend to focus on sport and exercise science.

‘Human Factors’ is a distinct discipline, as well as a forum for other disciplines that share a similar focus. ‘Human Performance’ is not a distinct discipline, though it is a focus of, or umbrella for, allied human sciences.

Human Factors is a profession. The profession of ‘Human Factors Engineer’/’Ergonomist’ emerged (unexpectedly) over 50 years ago, and is now associated with specialised education, recognised qualification routes, professional associations, and associated codes of conduct. Specialists are now employed in many industries – especially safety critical industries – such as aviation, rail, military, nuclear, oil and gas, and healthcare. These roles tend to require formal, post-graduate degree qualifications in Human Factors (or Ergonomics), and/or certification (‘Chartership’ in the UK) by recognised professional bodies. Membership of professional bodies requires adherence to a Code of Conduct (such as this from CIEHF).

Human Performance is not yet a profession. ‘Human Performance’ cannot be described as a profession, with specialised education, recognised qualification routes, professional associations, and associated codes of conduct. This may emerge in the future. Sometimes, those who identify as ‘Human Performance Specialists’ are full members of professional associations for disciplines such as Human Factors, Industrial/Organisational Psychology, Medicine, Sports Science, etc. More commonly, Human Performance (or Human and Organisational Performance) is a term adopted by health and safety practitioners, and is sometimes described as a ‘movement’.

‘Human Factors’ is a distinct profession, and is also sometimes used by other allied professions with similar aims and scopes. ‘Human Performance’ is not a profession, but is a focus of interest for allied professions.

Human Factors and Ergonomics are considered roughly equivalent. Within the discipline and profession, the terms ‘Human Factors’ and ‘Ergonomics’ are generally considered equivalent. The scope of research units, schools, and journals, and the official internationally-accepted definition, is equivalent. Different terms are, however, used in different industries and contexts. Human Factors Specialists tend to be happy with either title, depending on the context (the formal Chartered title in the UK is ‘Chartered Ergonomist and Human Factors Specialist’.)

Human Performance and Ergonomics are considered more distinct. While human performance (what people do and how they do it – concerning physical, cognitive, social aspects) is of course of critical interest to Ergonomics, the terms are not equivalent. Those who identify as ‘Human Performance Specialists’ tend not to identify as ‘Ergonomists’, unless they are qualified in Ergonomics. ‘Ergonomics’ has clear design connotations, while ‘Human Performance’ tends to have training connotations, or (lowercase) human performance is simply seen as something that people do – perform.

Human Factors and Ergonomics are considered roughly equivalent within the discipline, and by many in the profession. Human Performance is of interest to Ergonomics (Human Factors), but also of many other disciplines.

Human Factors has a design focus. ‘Human Factors’ interventions tend to have a design focus. This has been the method of intervention since the inception of HF in WWII, and since then in many definitions, including that of the International Ergonomics Association (adopted by all Human Factors [or Ergonomics] professional associations), to apply “theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance” (IEA). ‘Design thinking’ is therefore inseparable from Human Factors.

Human Performance has a behavioural focus . ‘Human Performance’ interventions by those who identify as Human Performance Specialists tend to have a more direct behaviour modification focus, frequently associated with safe behaviour, leadership, culture, and teamwork. The primary methods of intervention for Human Performance are primarily training, coaching, awareness-raising, and behaviour change methods that tend not to be design-led. ‘Design thinking’ is not necessarily associated with Human Performance (though it may be, in some interventions and publications) .

Human Factors and Human Performance tend to have different modes of intervention. Human Factors tends to have a design focus, while Human Performance tends to have a behaviour modification focus.

Human Factors is concerned with system performance. ‘Human Factors’ concerns “interactions among humans and other elements of a system” (IEA). It has an military-industrial heritage, with a focus on the sociotechnical system. This system focus can be confusing, especially outside of the discipline, where it is sometimes associated with ‘factors of humans’ (which is, confusingly, more aligned with Human Performance). The focus is therefore not only human performance per se, but system performance more generally, with human performance being a key influence on this. Human performance at an individual or team level could be considered effective (locally), but – by the nature of system interactions – produce unwanted effects at a higher system level, or in another part of the system, or be detrimental to human wellbeing. ‘Systems thinking’ is inseparable from Human Factors.

Human Performance is concerned with individual and team performance. ‘Human Performance’ is primarily focused on the performance of individuals and teams (and organisations, in the case of Human and Organisational Performance) – what people do, and how. Academically, it has a human science heritage, in sport and exercise science, physiology (endurance and survival in extreme environments), and also industrial-organisational psychology. ‘ Systems thinking’ is not necessarily associated with Human Performance (though it may be, in some interventions and publications) .

Human Factors, despite the name, is concerned with system performance, as a discipline and profession. Human Performance tends to be concerned with individual and team performance, as a focus for various disciplines and professions.

Summing up

‘Human Performance’ is seemingly self-evident in its focus it is about what it says on the tin – human performance. It is not a distinct discipline or profession, but offers a convenient gathering place for those who are interested in improving human performance. ‘Human Performance’, as used by some health and safety professionals now (who sometimes identify as Human Performance or Human and Organisational Performance specialists) is, in some respects, in a similar position to that of ‘Human Factors’ (and ‘Ergonomics’) in the 1960s. It is also in a similar position to ‘User Experience’ or UX a decade or two ago (compared to Human Computer Interaction, Usability Engineering or Interaction Design).

Whether ‘Human Performance’ should become a discipline and profession is a matter of opinion. But since there are already a number of academic disciplines and professions concerned with human performance, I would say this is unnecessary and unhelpful. I would also say that it is unhelpful to call it a ‘movement’. Rather, the term ‘human performance’ is more useful in a multi-disciplinary, non-professionalised (or multi-professional) way concerning what people do, and how, and to bring people together to talk about this, somewhat like ‘systems thinking’. It is something of interest to many stakeholders

But I see three key future risks for ‘Human Performance’ as a ‘movement’. The first risk is that – disconnected from a discipline – it becomes allied with populist science, without an evidence base in pragmatic science. Populist science can appeal to industry, but takes practice further from theory, to the point that intervention may be ineffective or counterproductive.

The second risk for the Human Performance movement is that – disconnected from a profession – clients of services related to Human Performance do not really know who or what they are getting, and have no recourse to a code of conduct and associated professional association. Clients therefore have to ensure the person employed or contracted is suitably qualified and experienced for the work, whether it is labelled as ‘Human Performance’ or ‘Human Factors’.

The third risk is that the term ‘Human Performance’, as often used by HP/HOP consultants, may reinforce behavioural approaches to improvement (training, coaching, supervision, monitoring, behaviour-based safety), at the expense of system and design approaches, which may well be more effective. As Sanders and McCormick (1987) stated in their textbook Human Factors in Engineering and Design, “it is easier to bend metal than twist arms”. And so we should be wary of abandoning ‘Human Factors’ for a term that may be on trend, but risks taking us back to an ideology of only fitting the human to the task, rather than (first) fitting the task to the human.

This post reflects on developments in a number of industries concerning the growth of ‘Human Performance’ as a movement or sphere of activity for internal and external consultants – separate from, equivalent to, an aspect of, or even subsuming ‘Human Factors’ as a discipline and profession. In some cases, the terms Human Factors and Human Performance refer to rather different things as spheres of professional activity. In others, and for some publications, they refer to closely related things or the same thing, but with one term or the other being used depending on the purpose, scope and readership. This White Paper on Human Performance in Air Traffic Management Safety, for instance (for which I was lead editor) is arguably more about Human Factors, though it does not include human wellbeing in its scope (which is core to the definition of Human Factors and Ergonomics). This Human Performance Standard of Excellence (also within air traffic management) similarly includes design and behavioural approaches, and also mentions wellbeing. Again, this is more aligned with Human Factors (in a non-professionalised way), but the term human performance is used. So ‘Human Performance’ as movement or a sphere of research and professional activity is different to ‘human performance’ as simply what people do and how. Both of the above publications essentially concern ‘human performance’ (lowercase) in the ordinary sense – what people do and how they do it, and how to improve that using training, design, management, and other interventions. In summary, in some applications, publications, and contexts, either term may be used with essentially the same meaning, while in others, the terms have somewhat different meanings and implications, and even the meaning of ‘human performance’/’Human Performance’ (and even ‘human factors‘/’Human Factors‘) can differ.


Positive Versus Negative Feedback Ratios

Individuals

When we use 360-degree feedback assessments in coaching we always include at least 1-2 open-ended questions at the end of the questionnaire asking raters about perceived strengths to leverage and behaviors the leader can do more, less or differently to become even more effective. Our own research and those of others suggests that feedback can be emotionally harmful if there is an overwhelming amount of perceived critical or negative feedback. (Nowack & Mashihi, 2012). For example, Smither and Walker (2004) analyzed the impact of upward feedback ratings as well as narrative comments over a one-year period for 176 managers.

They found that those who received a small number of unfavorable behaviourally based comments improved more than other managers, but those who received a large number (relative to positive comments) significantly declined in performance more than other managers. This is the one of the only studies we have seen that has found that qualitative feedback in 360 interventions might actually be disengaging and demoralizing to participants if the ratio of positive to negative feedback is low.

Teams

Over the years we have run developmental assessment centers that always have at least one leaderless group exercise. We can easily observe the differences between groups that appear to function effectively from those who don’t based on the communications and interpersonal behaviour of the group members–not how smart any individual is or the collective experience or technical expertise of the members.

Recent studies have established that teams with positive to negative interaction ratios greater than 3 to 1 are significantly more productive than teams that do not reach this ratio (Things can worsen if the ratio goes higher than 13 to 1). Marcial Losada brought 60 management teams into a simulated board room where they could hold actual meetings (Losada & Heafy, 2004). Behind mirrors, researchers observed and coded every statement made by each individual on three scales: 1. Positive statements (support, optimism, appreciation) versus negative statements (disapproval, sarcasm, cynicism). 2. Self-focused statements (refer to the person speaking, the group present, or the company) versus other-focused statements (references to a person or group not part of the company). 3. Inquiry (questions aimed at exploring an idea) versus advocacy (arguments in favor of their own point of view).

Losada also measured something he called connectivity or how attuned or responsive the team members were to each other. Finally, he gathered data on three dependent variables: profitability, customer satisfaction, and evaluations by superiors, peers and subordinates. In the study, positive to negative ratio (P/N) was measured by counting the instances of positive feedback (e.g. “that is a good idea”) vs. negative feedback (e.g. “this is not what I expected I am disappointed”).

Overall, high performance teams had a P/N ratio of 5.6, medium performance teams a P/N ratio of 1.9 and low performance teams a P/N ratio of 0.36 (more negative than positive feedback and interactions).

No Feedback and Engagement

Gallup organisation asked a random sample of 1,003 employees in the U.S how much they agreed with two statements: 1) My supervisor focuses on my strengths/positive characteristics and 2) My supervisor focuses on my weaknesses or negative characteristics. They were also asked whether they were engaged, not engaged or actively disengaged with their work and jobs.

Employees who did not agree with either statement were characterised as “ignored” in their analyses.

The findings suggest that no feedback might actually do more harm than negative or positive feedback.

  • Positive Feedback:In the group that reported their bosses gave them positive feedback in the form of focusing on what they did well (i.e., their strengths), only 1% were actively disengaged and 61% reported being fully engaged.
  • Negative Feedback:In the group that reported that their bosses tended to focus on the negative and provide ongoing critical feedback to them, 22% reported being actively disengaged and 45% reported being engaged.
  • No Feedback:In the group that reported being largely ignored by their bosses (no positive or negative feedback), 40% reported being actively disengaged and only 2% reported being engaged.

Interestingly, the most disengaged group of employees reported to bosses who seemed to ignore them and provide little or not feedback at all.

The findings of these studies are not surprising in suggesting the intuitive power of defining and leveraging the strengths of talent nor in warning us about the obvious dangers of negative feedback as causing social stress and perceptions of bullying at work.

It would appear that in the case of feedback, less is more is actually not recommended and might have the most negative impact of all followed by a large ratio of negative to positive feedback based on research on groups and teams.

So, go and find that high potential talent today in your organisation and tell them something positive or at least something constructive so they can continue to really shine.

**Kenneth Nowack will be giving a free seminar on ‘Clueless: Coaching people to change behaviour’ at the World of Learning Exhibition at 14:45 – 15:15 at Tuesday 30 September 2014. Register free for the exhibition here >>**

References

Chen, Z., Williams, K., Fitness, J. & Newton, N. (2008). When hurt will not heal. Psychological Science, 19, 789-795.

Eisenberger, N., Lieberman, M. and Williams, K. (2003). Does rejection hurt? An fMRI study of social exclusion. Science, 302, 290-292.

Losada, M., & Heaphy, E. (2004). The role of positivity and connectivity in the performance of business teams: A nonlinear dynamics model. American Behavioral Scientist, 47, 740–765.

Nowack, K. & Mashihi, S. (2012). Evidence Based Answers to 15 Questions about Leveraging 360-Degree Feedback. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 64, 157–182.

Nowack, K. (2009). Leveraging Multirater Feedback to Facilitate Successful Behavioral Change. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 61, 280-297


The Roots of Performance Anxiety in Sports

Anxiety and worry are the biggest performance problem for young competitive athletes.

Anxious athletes report the following:
–“I play so well in practice but mess up in games.”
–“I’m so nervous in games that I get sick to my stomach.”
–“I become so anxious in competitions that I can’t concentrate.”
–“I always fall apart when the game is on the line.”
–“I get so nervous that I don’t even enjoy my sport anymore.”

Performance anxiety wears on athletes, which can create a host of negative physical and mental issues that can hurt your performance.

Do you or your athletes experience physical changes, such as racing heart beats, difficulty breathing, tight muscles, upset stomach, jumpiness and an inability to produce smooth or fluid mechanics?

While the physical symptoms are difficult enough to deal with, it’s the mental worry that triggers the physical changes.

Negative thinking, fear of failing, inability to deal with adversity or uncertainty, problems with focusing and the overwhelming need to be perfect are the mental trigger that can lead to performance anxiety.

To make matters worse, athletes often stress our over their inability to manage the choking response.

These young athletes feel isolated and believe themselves to be the only ones negatively affected by anxiety.

Truth be told, even Olympic and professional athletes can become overwhelmed by anxiety.

Graham DeLaet, a 34 year-old golfer and seven-year PGA Tour veteran, felt so nervous chipping and pitching while preparing for the 2016 Memorial Tournament that he withdrew from the event and took a break from competing in tournaments.

DeLAET: “A lot of fear standing over chips shots for whatever reason. I mean it’s something I’ve never really been through in my entire career.”

DeLaet had been playing golf for 22 years and never experienced such paralyzing anxiety.

DeLAET: “I’ve been playing golf since I was 12 years old and this is kind of a strange thing, but I’m working through it right now.”

DeLaet decided to work with a sport psychologist and seems to be getting back on track mentally.

DeLAET: “I’m getting better all the time and I know that it might just take one good shot under pressure to know that it’s in there and kind of change that confidence level. The rest of my game has been really, really good and I’m optimistic that I’m going to turn it around.”

DeLaet is proof that athletes can learn mental strategies to cope with anxiety and perform confidently.

To help you overcome anxiety and fear, you can’t just do relaxation training. This is simply a band aid and does not address the real issue, which I find is often related to fear of failure.

Tips for managing competitive anxiety:

Underneath the tension and worry you feel is something else you might NOT be aware of, such as the fear of embarrassment.

To overcome performance anxiety:

1. Understand what the ultimate fear is all about. Are you afraid to disappoint others, for example?

2. Challenge the rationality of your fear. What’s so important about it?

3. Learn how to embrace competition pressure rather than fear you will fail or feel disappointed.

4. Understand the reason you put in hours per week of training is to have fun and trust your skills in competition!

Do you want to discover how to overcome performance anxiety and stop choking in sports?

Check out our other website:

Here you can learn mental strategies many top athletes use to perform with composure and poise in competition.

Check out our Video of The Week:

This week, Dr. Cohn helps parents and coaches understand the problems with trying to perform perfectly:

Learn Proven Strategies to Perform with Confidence!

Do you suffer from fragile self-confidence after missed hits, playing with strict or high expectations that undermine confidence or the inability to play freely and relaxed on the course?

If you suffer from lack of focus, low self-confidence or other mental game obstacles on the course, you cant reach your true golf potential…

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“I want to tell you how much I appreciate all your help. You have made an enormous amount of difference in my game. I feel much better because of your help I don’t feel the tension like I did before. You should feel very good about what you do for people—it is truly a gift!. I know my students and myself have benefited enormously from Dr. Patrick Cohn’s teaching.”

Jim Dahline, PGA Professional

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Master mental game coach Dr. Patrick Cohn can help you overcome your mental game issues with personal coaching.

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That swimsuit becomes you: sex differences in self-objectification, restrained eating, and math performance

Objectification theory (B. L. Fredrickson & T. Roberts, 1997) posits that American culture socializes women to adopt observers' perspectives on their physical selves. This self-objectification is hypothesized to (a) produce body shame, which in turn leads to restrained eating, and (b) consume attentional resources, which is manifested in diminished mental performance. Two experiments manipulated self-objectification by having participants try on a swimsuit or a sweater. Experiment 1 tested 72 women and found that self-objectification increased body shame, which in turn predicted restrained eating. Experiment 2 tested 42 women and 40 men and found that these effects on body shame and restrained eating replicated for women only. Additionally, self-objectification diminished math performance for women only. Discussion centers on the causes and consequences of objectifying women's bodies.


Knowledge of Variation

The System Of Profound Knowledge® (SoPK) is the culmination of W. Edwards Deming’s work on management. The four areas of the system are: appreciation for a system, knowledge of variation, theory of knowledge and psychology. This post explores knowledge of variation in the context of Dr. Deming’s management philosophy.

Even the cursory overviews of Dr. Deming focus on his contribution to using data to improve the performance of organizations. The problem I (John Hunter) personally see is that the most important aspect is missed. More important than using specific tools (even extremely valuable tools such as the PDSA improvement cycle or control charts) is statistical thinking with an understanding of variation. Without even analyzing the data this way of thinking changes how you think about data and process results. This new way of thinking is the most powerful resource to take from your knowledge of variation.

“Why did something go wrong?” “Why are results so poor?” “How can we repeat this success?” The job of management is to not only ask these and other important performance-related questions, but also to find the right answers and take the right course of action. Dr. Deming provided the means for management to do just that through knowledge of variation.

In any business, there are always variations, between people, in output, in service and in product. The output of a system results from two types of variation: common cause and special cause variation. Common cause variations are the natural result of the system. In a stable system, common cause variation will be predictable within certain limits.

Special cause variations represent a unique event that is outside the system: for example, a natural disaster.

Distinguishing the difference between variation, as well as understanding its causes and predicting behavior, is key to management’s ability to properly remove problems or barriers in the system.

The control chart is a tool to determine if the system is in control (the system gives predictable results) and what those predictable results are. We will post on control charts in more detail later (as well as common and special causes). Essentially though the control chart is a tool to help you learn and analyze.


Depending on if you have a common cause or a special cause there are different strategies to improve. If you have a special cause you then want to learn what is special (the difference from what normally takes place that caused the result) and find ways to either capture what was beneficial or, more likely, learn what was a problem and develop countermeasures to avoid that problem in the future. The key here is for a special cause you want to learn there is a special cause quickly (as it is much easier to learn about that special event when it is fresh in everyone’s mind).

When the system is not producing acceptable results you still need to improve. But the more effective strategies are to use common cause improvement thinking. Those strategies will examine they systemic results (all the data) and will seek to find systemic improvements.

As we posted yesterday, Dr. Deming estimated 94% of causes were common cause in Out of the Crisis, and he actually increased his estimate as time went by. Unfortunately our default mode (as people – relating to our psychology, one of the four areas of Deming’s SoPK) is to use special cause thinking. We try to discover what was bad about the specific result (often seeking the person to blame) and fix that. This can work, it is just a very inefficient way to improve. In the 94% or 97% of cases when common cause thinking would be more efficient we would get better results if we used that thinking.

On the positive side, system improvements are much more productive. If you only fix this special situation you haven’t done much to improve future results. Perhaps just eliminating one potential problem. But often you don’t even do that.

Instead of learning that your system has a weakness that should be addressed you just fire the unlucky sap who was sitting at their desk when the problem manifest itself. You convince yourself that you dealt with the problem employee but in fact the system just periodically gives that result and a few months later someone else will be sitting in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Again tying to the area of psychology people think there is much less variation than actually exists. Therefore their natural inclination (without a sufficient knowledge of variation) is to suspect a special problem when actually it is just the natural variation in the system. “Tampering, over-reacting to variation, is a common method of increasing variation – and costs!” Brian Joiner (from my notes at Brian’s Leading for Rapid Improvement seminar).

When the result is within the expected result for the system (which a control chart will show) to use special cause thinking is tampering. This results in lots of effort with little benefit. Without knowledge of variation superstition can flourish.


How Stress Can Affect Sports Performance

Not all stress is bad for your performance. Stress can affect your performance in two different ways. Stress can help you when it makes you more alert, more motivated to practice, and gain a competitive edge. In the right amount, stress helps you prepare, focus, and perform at your optimal level. Conversely, too much stress, or bad stress, can cause performance anxiety, which hurts your health and does not allow you to play relaxed, confident, and focused in competition.

“You’re always going to be nervous teeing it up in a Major Championship. It’s very natural and it’s a good thing. It means that you want it.”

Rory McIlroy, first round leader at the 2011 Masters

Every competitive athlete experiences some stress good and bad. Your stress may be positive and helpful or instill anxiety and apprehension. Pregame jitters can cause some athletes to not sleep well the night before competition. Some athletes can’t eat the morning before a big game. Your pre-competition jitters may make you feel like you have to throw up.

You want to feel excitement or thrill in anticipation for competition (what I call positive pregame jitters). A high level of activation will help you perform your best – up to a point where you may be too jacked up to play well. Too little or too much intensity (or stress) can cause your performance to decline. Your ability to cope effectively with pregame nerves is critical to consistent peak performance.

To read the entire article “How Stress Can Affect Sports Performance” visit April’s addition of:

Learn powerful pre-competition mental game strategies pro athletes use to stay calm, focused, and perform with poise. Order The Relaxed Athlete today and learn how to overcome pre-game anxiety and fear.

Also, download our free mental toughness report, 󈫺 Costly Mental Game Mistakes Athletes Make Before Competition” today and start learning ways to improve your mental game.

Boost Your Self-Confidence With Mental Game Coaching!

Master mental game coach, Dr. Patrick Cohn, can help you or your athlete(s), ages 12 and up, overcome mental game issues with personal coaching.

You can work with Dr. Patrick Cohn himself in Orlando, Florida or via Skype, FaceTime, or telephone. Call us toll free at 888-742-7225 or contact us for more information about the different coaching programs we offer!

What are our students saying?

“WOW. What a week I had. I was able to perform with a confidence that allowed my style to shine through–no more entering the arena with that “deer in the headlights” look or feeling. I stopped evaluating myself while I was performing, and I actually left the arena after my patterns feeling like I had experienced a lot of fun. Thank you so much.”

Julia Dreyer, National Champion Equestrian

For All Athletes – Learn Confidence-Boosting Techniques!

D you have a negative self-image of yourself as an athlete that stifles confidence?

No matter ow positive you try to be, are you unable to shake the doubt that rushes into your head when you size up your competition?

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If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, check out The Confident Athlete!

The Confident Athlete CD and workbook program is a 14-day plan for ultimate self-confidence. This program is ideal for any athlete or coach that wants to discover proven confidence-boosting techniques guaranteed to drastically build self-confidence and improve sports performance.

Learn more about one of our most popular CD programs in The Confident Athlete Series…

What are customers saying?

“I first purchased The Confident Athlete to see how the program went and immediately saw results. I then purchased the rest of the confident athlete series and have noticed a dramatic improvement in my level of play or should I say consistency. I currently play NCAA Division 1 baseball for Lamar University, and even my coaches have noticed a change in the way that I approach the game. My attitude and confidence at the plate.”

“I am a ASP world qualifying professional surfer and after beginning the ‘The Confident Athlete’ I had an almost instant change in attitude about my own surfing ability and my mindset going into competition. By using the Confident Athlete strategies, my confidence has done a complete 180 degrees. I won a local pro/am a few weeks back, and just had my best result of the year in one the last big events on the world circuit this last week in Brazil! It is my secret weapon!”

For Young Athletes and Parents – Learn More About How to Help Kids Improve Confidence Quickly!

The Confident Sports Kid is a 7-day program for sports parents and kids to boost young athlete’s performance, happiness and success… in sports and life!

The Confident Sports Kid is two programs in one. There’s a manual and CD for parents/coaches, and a workbook/CD for young athletes.

Packed with mental strategies that you and your kids can start using immediately, this program teaches your athletes how to identify confidence busters, proactively deal with them, manage expectations that undermine confidence, and mentally prepare to stay confident when faced with adversity.

What’s more, our program teaches you, as sports parents and coaches, how you may be hurting your kids’ confidence and gives you instructions for changing your behavior in ways that will improve your athletes’ performance, confidence and enjoyment.

Learn more about one of our most popular CD programs in The Confident Sports Kid Series…

What are parents and coaches saying about our program?

“I appreciate the advice to parents as to how to help your child become more mentally resilient to bullying in sports. The specific advice and scenarios are extremely helpful for any child on a team and very helpful in guiding parents, coaches and administrators in how to deal with bullying in sports. I cannot thank you enough for your input, and I am so reassured to know that there are people like you who are writing articles and doing interviews on such timely and important matters.”

“Dr. Patrick Cohn and Lisa Cohn are to be congratulated! Together, they offer a wealth of knowledge, information, and practical mental tools for sports parents on the substantial “mental game” challenges and pressures facing today’s young athletes.”

Marc D. Anderson, LCSW, MGCP, Mental Game Coach

For Mental Coaches – Add More Value To Your Mental Training Programs!

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Causes of Conflict in Organizations

Here we will examine two aspects of the conflict process. First, several factors that have been found to contribute to conflict will be identified. After this, a model of conflict processes in organizations will be reviewed.

Why Organizations Have So Much Conflict

A number of factors are known to facilitate organizational conflict under certain circumstances. In summarizing the literature, Robert Miles points to several specific examples.

Task Interdependencies. The first antecedent can be found in the nature of task interdependencies . In essence, the greater the extent of task interdependence among individuals or groups (that is, the more they have to work together or collaborate to accomplish a goal), the greater the likelihood of conflict if different expectations or goals exist among entities, in part because the interdependence makes avoiding the conflict more difficult. This occurs in part because high task interdependency heightens the intensity of relationships. Hence, a small disagreement can very quickly get blown up into a major issue.

Status Inconsistencies. A second factor is status inconsistencies among the parties involved. For example, managers in many organizations have the prerogative to take personal time off during workdays to run errands, and so forth, whereas nonmanagerial personnel do not. Consider the effects this can have on the nonmanagers’ view of organizational policies and fairness.

Jurisdictional Ambiguities. Conflict can also emerge from jurisdictional ambiguities —situations where it is unclear exactly where responsibility for something lies. For example, many organizations use an employee selection procedure in which applicants are evaluated both by the personnel department and by the department in which the applicant would actually work. Because both departments are involved in the hiring process, what happens when one department wants to hire an individual, but the other department does not?

Communication Problems. Suffice it to say that the various communication problems or ambiguities in the communication process can facilitate conflict. When one person misunderstands a message or when information is withheld, the person often responds with frustration and anger.

Dependence on Common Resource Pool. Another previously discussed factor that contributes to conflict is dependence on common resource pools. Whenever several departments must compete for scarce resources, conflict is almost inevitable. When resources are limited, a zero-sum game exists in which someone wins and, invariably, someone loses.

Lack of Common Performance Standards. Differences in performance criteria and reward systems provide more potential for organizational conflict. This often occurs because of a lack of common performance standards among differing groups within the same organization. For example, production personnel are often rewarded for their efficiency, and this efficiency is facilitated by the long-term production of a few products. Sales departments, on the other hand, are rewarded for their short-term response to market changes—often at the expense of long-term production efficiency. In such situations, conflict arises as each unit attempts to meet its own performance criteria.

Individual Differences. Finally, a variety of individual differences, such as personal abilities, traits, and skills, can influence in no small way the nature of interpersonal relations. Individual dominance, aggressiveness, authoritarianism, and tolerance for ambiguity all seem to influence how an individual deals with potential conflict. Indeed, such characteristics may determine whether or not conflict is created at all.

A Model of the Conflict Process

Having examined specific factors that are known to facilitate conflict, we can ask how conflict comes about in organizations. The most commonly accepted model of the conflict process was developed by Kenneth Thomas.

This model, shown in (Figure), consists of four stages: (1) frustration, (2) conceptualization, (3) behavior, and (4) outcome.

Stage 1: Frustration. As we have seen, conflict situations originate when an individual or group feels frustration in the pursuit of important goals. This frustration may be caused by a wide variety of factors, including disagreement over performance goals, failure to get a promotion or pay raise, a fight over scarce economic resources, new rules or policies, and so forth. In fact, conflict can be traced to frustration over almost anything a group or individual cares about.

Stage 2: Conceptualization. In stage 2, the conceptualization stage of the model, parties to the conflict attempt to understand the nature of the problem, what they themselves want as a resolution, what they think their opponents want as a resolution, and various strategies they feel each side may employ in resolving the conflict. This stage is really the problem-solving and strategy phase. For instance, when management and union negotiate a labor contract, both sides attempt to decide what is most important and what can be bargained away in exchange for these priority needs.

Stage 3: Behavior. The third stage in Thomas’s model is actual behavior. As a result of the conceptualization process, parties to a conflict attempt to implement their resolution mode by competing or accommodating in the hope of resolving problems. A major task here is determining how best to proceed strategically. That is, what tactics will the party use to attempt to resolve the conflict? Thomas has identified five modes for conflict resolution, as shown in (Figure). These are (1) competing, (2) collaborating, (3) compromising, (4) avoiding, and (5) accommodating. Also shown in the exhibit are situations that seem most appropriate for each strategy.

The choice of an appropriate conflict resolution mode depends to a great extent on the situation and the goals of the party. This is shown graphically in (Figure). According to this model, each party must decide the extent to which it is interested in satisfying its own concerns—called assertiveness —and the extent to which it is interested in helping satisfy the opponent’s concerns—called cooperativeness . Assertiveness can range from assertive to unassertive on one continuum, and cooperativeness can range from uncooperative to cooperative on the other continuum.

Once the parties have determined their desired balance between the two competing concerns—either consciously or unconsciously—the resolution strategy emerges. For example, if a union negotiator feels confident she can win on an issue that is of primary concern to union members (e.g., wages), a direct competition mode may be chosen (see upper left-hand corner of (Figure)). On the other hand, when the union is indifferent to an issue or when it actually supports management’s concerns (e.g., plant safety), we would expect an accommodating or collaborating mode (on the right-hand side of the exhibit).

  1. When quick, decisive action is vital—e.g., emergencies
  2. On important issues where unpopular actions need implementing—e.g., cost cutting, enforcing unpopular rules, discipline
  3. On issues vital to company welfare when you know you’re right
  4. Against people who take advantage of noncompetitive behavior
  1. When trying to find an integrative solution when both sets of concerns are too important to be compromised
  2. When your objective is to learn
  3. When merging insights from people with different perspectives
  4. When gaining commitment by incorporating concerns into a consensus
  5. When working through feelings that have interfered with a relationship
  1. When goals are important but not worth the effort or potential disruption of more assertive modes
  2. When opponents with equal power are committed to mutually exclusive goals
  3. When attempting to achieve temporary settlements to complex issues
  4. When arriving at expedient solutions under time pressure
  5. As a backup when collaboration or competition is unsuccessful
  1. When an issue is trivial, or when more important issues are pressing
  2. When you perceive no chance of satisfying your concerns
  3. When potential disruption outweighs the benefits of resolution
  4. When letting people cool down and regain perspective
  5. When gathering information supersedes immediate decision
  6. When others can resolve the conflict more effectively
  7. When issues seem tangential or symptomatic of other issues
  1. When you find you are wrong—to allow a better position to be heard, to learn, and to show your reasonableness
  2. When issues are more important to others than yourself—to satisfy others and maintain cooperation
  3. When building social credits for later issues
  4. When minimizing loss when you are outmatched and losing
  5. When harmony and stability are especially important.
  6. When allowing subordinates to develop by learning from mistakes.

What is interesting in this process is the assumptions people make about their own modes compared to their opponents’. For example, in one study of executives, it was found that the executives typically described themselves as using collaboration or compromise to resolve conflict, whereas these same executives typically described their opponents as using a competitive mode almost exclusively.

In other words, the executives underestimated their opponents’ concern as uncompromising. Simultaneously, the executives had flattering portraits of their own willingness to satisfy both sides in a dispute.

Stage 4: Outcome. Finally, as a result of efforts to resolve the conflict, both sides determine the extent to which a satisfactory resolution or outcome has been achieved. Where one party to the conflict does not feel satisfied or feels only partially satisfied, the seeds of discontent are sown for a later conflict, as shown in the preceding (Figure). One unresolved conflict episode can easily set the stage for a second episode. Managerial action aimed at achieving quick and satisfactory resolution is vital failure to initiate such action leaves the possibility (more accurately, the probability) that new conflicts will soon emerge.

  1. Why do organizations have so much conflict?
  2. Describe the process of the conflict model.

Conflict in organizations can be caused by task interdependencies, status inconsistencies, jurisdictional ambiguities, communication problems, dependence on common resource pools, lack of common performance standards, and individual differences. A model of the conflict process follows four stages. Conflict originates (stage 1) when an individual or group experiences frustration in the pursuit of important goals. In stage 2, the individual or group attempts to understand the nature of the problem and its causes. In stage 3, efforts are made to change behavioral patterns in such a way that the desired outcome, or stage 4, is achieved.


Arousal and Performance

Arousal is the key issue in sport psychology. Specifically, physical and technical performance depends on the level of performer’s arousal. However, arousal is determined by psychological processes such as emotions, which, in turn, depend on higher cognitive functions like thoughts. Arousal reflects general physical and psychological activity. For example, coma is a pathologically low state of arousal whereas agitation is an extremely high arousal. Usually, people are somewhere in between of those two extremes.

In sport setting, arousal is often linked to anxiety. Anxiety is a negative emotional state with feelings of worry, nervousness and apprehension that is associated with the arousal and activation of the nervous system. In general, arousal has two kinds of effects on performance. First, it increases muscle tension and affects co-ordination. Too much tension is detrimental to performance. Second, arousal affects attention. Therefore, attention can become either too narrow with too much arousal, or too broad with too little arousal which makes person to pay too much attention to his/her environment. There are several theories as to how arousal affects performance:

Drive Reduction Theory states a linear positive relationship between arousal and performance. This means that at low levels of arousal, performance is low whereas it increases in line with an increase in arousal. Drive reduction theory became popular during the 1940s and 1950s as a way to explain behavior and motivation.

Inverted U hypothesis proposes a relationship between arousal and performance in a symmetrical inverted U. Increases in arousal will result in the increase of performance, up to a point (optimal arousal) beyond which further arousal is dysfunctional to the outcome of performance.
Individual Zones of Optimal Functioning (IZOF) takes into account that people have different levels of anxiety and arousal that are unique in making them perform at their best. Some people perform their best with low anxiety, some with a medium amount and others with a high amount. The amount of anxiety/arousal that an individual requires to perform their best is based on individual characteristics.

Multidimensional Anxiety Theory demonstrates that when someone has anxious thoughts he/she will have poorer performance. This theory distinguishes between somatic and cognitive anxiety:
Cognitive anxiety represents the mental component of anxiety and is caused by negative expectations about success or about negative self-evaluation. Thus, cognitive anxiety is worrying and negative thoughts.
Somatic anxiety reflects physiological elements of the anxiety that develops directly from autonomic arousal. This is perceived as ‘butterflies’ in the stomach, tense muscles, sweating and nausea.
The theory makes two predictions:
1. There is a negative linear relationship between cognitive anxiety and performance
2. There is an inverted U relationship between somatic anxiety and performance
Multidimensional Anxiety theory suggests that somatic anxiety should decline once performance begins but cognitive anxiety may remain high if self-confidence is low. Anxiety felt by the body will have an effect on performance much like that of the inverted U hypothesis (see above).

Catastrophe Model (Fazer & Hardy, 1988) suggests that as long as there are lower thoughts of anxiety, then performance will be best at a medium level of physical arousal. If there is a high level of anxious thoughts (worry), performance will be better at a medium level of physical arousal but will suddenly drop off and become very poor. There is a breaking point when performance decreases dramatically.


What psychological factors improve sports performance?

We all know that regular exercise directly benefits our health. Studies also demonstrate time and time again that exercise is good for our mental health, contributing to improved attention span, teamwork, and self-esteem.

The psychological factors of sports and exercise that most affect performance are: self-confidence, motivation, emotional control, and concentration.

  • Motivation: This is important for any area you want to optimize your performance in. It is especially important in sports. Think about athletes who experience constant ups-and-downs, wins and losses. In their case, intrinsic motivation and love for what they do is usually what helps them recover after a bad pass, a terrible throw, or a much lower score than they were expecting.
  • Concentration: Athletes also need to have the ability to concentrate intensely. All actions, even the most simple or intuitive ones, require concentration. A poorly executed move can result in a loss or an injury. It can ruin months of preparation. That’s why even an athlete with mediocre training is not usually distracted.
  • Emotional control: Doing mental training exercises that help you control your emotions and doubts can make the difference between success and failure. When poor emotional control affects an athlete’s performance, it is usually because she let her emotions affect her concentration.
  • Self-confidence: Lastly, confidence in your ability to successfully complete a task is an essential condition for victory.

“You can motivate by fear, and you can motivate by reward. But both those methods are only temporary. The only lasting thing is self motivation.”

-Homer Rice-