Psychology

Better Motivated by Financial Rewards in Mechanical Skill-based Tasks

Social scientists have long suspected that people become more motivated and perform better when presented with larger incentives. Studies have shown that for mechanical skill-based tasks that required following instructions, participant performance improved substantially as the financial reward increased. However, the same studies found that when tasks involved conceptual or creative thinking, a larger reward led to significantly reduced performance.

Abstraction

Abstraction is considered the most complex form of cognition, as it allows for problem solving through the drawing of logical conclusions from a set of observations. It is the process by which humans arrive at "higher" or more generalized categorizations through the usage of more specific concepts.

Good and Bad Distinguished

Morality, the ability to distinguish right from wrong, is a universal human attribute. Although the ability to distinguish is universal, the particular categorization of morals is dependent on several issues. Neuroscience, psychology, and ethics all attempt to explain the complex relationship between individuals and their morals. Experiments show that when an individual's brain is reaching a moral decision, both emotional and cognitive control are activated.

Territoriality

Territoriality is a system of behaviors employed by individuals and groups to minimize competition for a territory. This ubiquitous mechanism is considered to be evolutionary, since it is beneficial for an organism to be able to protect its home and resources from rivals. However, "territorial behavior can only be adaptive if its costs are outweighed by its benefits.

Nepotism (favoritism toward own children and close kin)

Kin selection refers to behaviors that specifically favor the well-being of one's relatives at the possible expense of one's own well-being. Biological evolutionists theorize that these altruistic behaviors evolved because they allow certain genes to have greater population frequency. Since close relatives share many genes, the probability of these genes being passed on to future generations would increase due to altruistic behavior toward relatives. Socially, favoritism for relatives is known as nepotism.

Hope

Hope is considered a secondary emotion as it is constructed by "higher mental processes" of visualizing, expecting, and feeling optimistic about an expected future. As such this emotion requires cogitation and intellectual abilities and involves generating new behavior in order to achieve the expected future or goal. Hope can be both of an individual or a collective nature.

Habituation

Habituation is a simple form of learning that results in a lack of response to certain stimuli due to extended exposure to them (such as our ability to work in a noisy environment). Habituation can occur at different levels of the nervous system. It is an important ability as it allows us to focus on more important stimuli by filtering out those that cause us little or no harm (i.e., strong perfumes).

Collective Decision Making

Psychologist Jean-François Bonnefon found that judges, a prime example of collective decision making, use different methods to arrive at a decision. Profile-voting (i.e., voting on the fit of a candidate to the entirety of a job description) was generally preferred as it is a simpler alternative to criteria-voting (i.e., voting on each of the skills outlined for a job candidacy), the other method Bonnefon studied. Criteria-voting is preferred when judges could not find candidates or options that fulfill all the criteria required.

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance, considered by many to be the most influential theory of psychology, describes the incompatible nature of the relationship between knowledge individuals hold, such as seeing a black swan when one holds the belief that all swans are white. Such relationships cause discomfort which may be eased by changing cognitions (i.e., not all swans are white), adding cognitions (i.e. white swans are a Northern-Hemisphere species) or altering the importance of cognitions.

Envy

A definition of envy would be "emotions of inferiority, hostility, and resentment produced by an awareness of another person or group of persons who enjoy a desired possession." Envy is thought to generally elicit strong negative emotions and hostility in people. Two general forms of envy have been differentiated by scientists. These two are envy proper and benign envy. Envy proper follows the previous definition whereas benign envy as its name suggests does not have any malicious component.

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