Slackers Better at “Fun” Activities

Word search

The researchers first screened participants of comparable academic ability, categorizing them as interested in achievement or interested in fun. They then had the students look at a computer screen that flashed words related to high achievement (for instance, “win,” “excel” and “master”). In subsequent tests of ability such as a word-search puzzle, the participants who were interested in achievement performed significantly better than did those who were not.

That experiment confirmed conven tional assumptions, but the next one had a confounding outcome. Participants were again primed with high-achievement words and asked to complete a word-search puzzle. But instead of describing the task as a serious test of verbal pro ficiency as before, the researchers called it “fun.” The results of that simple seman tic change were profound: not only did the supposed slackers perform better on the task this time around, their scores actually surpassed those of the high-achievement crowd.

Scientific American: Slackers Better at “Fun” Activities

I read a similar study years ago that I’ve never been able to find. Researchers in that study found that different groups did better on tests that were called “work” and called “games.” Some people did better at “work” than “games,” other did better at “games” than “work.”

Photo by Sarah Le Clerc

(via Kyle)

See also: Brain network links cognition, motivation (Also via Kyle)

Questions are More Motivating Than Affirmations, Study Finds

Contemplation Space by conskeptical

University of Illinois Professor Dolores Albarracin and her team’s research on motivation:

Researchers tested these two different motivational approaches first by telling study participants to either spend a minute wondering whether they would complete a task or telling themselves they would. The participants showed more success on an anagram task (rearranging words to create different words) when they asked themselves whether they would complete it than when they told themselves they would.

In another experiment, students were asked to write two seemingly unrelated sentences, starting with either “I Will” or “Will I,” and then work on the same anagram task. Participants did better when they wrote, “Will I” even though they had no idea that the word writing related to the anagram task. A final experiment added the dimension of having participants complete a test designed to gauge motivation levels. Again, the participants who asked themselves whether they would complete the task did better on the task, and scored significantly higher on the motivation test.

True/Slant: Motivation Advice from Bob the Builder

(via Dangerous Meme)

Photo credit: conskeptical / CC:

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