|Tuesday, April 11th|
2:00 PM - 2:15 PM
Have you ever wondered why humans are cognitively superior to other animals? Well, guess what. We’re not! Our presentation addresses several ways in which humans are poor decision-makers as well as several strategies to improve selection outcomes. From our research, we highlight the key differences between humans and pigeons on a decision-making task called the Secretary Problem. This famous problem uses Optimal Stopping Theory to predict when decision-makers should make a final selection from a finite list of choices. We modified this study to test pigeons’ performance on this task, at which humans are notoriously bad. We explain how our study provides additional context for interpreting humans’ use of response biases in decision-making tasks.
2:15 PM - 2:30 PM
In our sport psychology study, we examined the relationship between motivational and instructional self-talk on precision and endurance performance tasks. Self-talk is the practice of talking to oneself, either silently or aloud, during competition. Motivational self-talk emphasizes goal achievement, increased effort and desire to succeed, while instructional self-talk uses word cues to enhance technique and skill in a task. Our sample consisted of players from the men’s and women’s varsity soccer teams. Participants completed endurance and precision tasks before and after two motivational, instructional or control self-talk interventions. We expect to find that participants in the IST group will perform best on the precision task, while the MST group will perform best on the endurance task. These results suggest that self-talk can make a tangible difference in athletic performance and different types of tasks require distinct types of self-talk.
2:30 PM - 2:45 PM
Students are constantly asked to attend to work. Being able to selectively attend and ignore often interesting distractions is important for learning. Yet, little psychological research has explored factors that help students selectively attend. I propose that understanding differences in motivation is key to understanding selective attention. Motivation is a willingness to participate in an activity and may thus describe willingness to selectively attend. However, it is possible that motivation can help students in other ways as well. Differences in motivation may impact students’ ability to put aside other demands on cognitive resources, affecting selective attention in the moment. In my presentation, I explore the hypothesis that differences in motivation impacts selective attention, and that this relationship is mediated by consciousness of goals. My study has important implications for both educators and policy makers.
2:45 PM - 3:00 PM
Aristotle identified a highest good for humans (eudaimonia), and rightly asserted that examining this good improves our ability to live a good life. In my presentation, I use Aristotle’s and alternative educator Maria Montessori's accounts of eudaimonia to develop my own account. I argue that eudaimonia is actualized by intrinsically motivated work, i.e. effortful activity engaged in for its own sake. Working from this central claim, I consider three features of intrinsically motivated work: that it has an internal standard of excellence, proper content, and that the highest kind of pleasure supervenes on it. I then examine the role of material goods in my account of eudaimonia. I also argue that eudaimonia should be taught by allowing children to engage in intrinsically motivated work without interference from rewards and punishments. I conclude by suggesting that my account of eudaimonia has important implications for modern society.
3:00 PM - 3:15 PM
In the 1970s, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi established the concept of “flow,” a universally applicable phenomenon defined as “an optimal psychological state that occurs when there is a balance between perceived challenges and skills in an activity” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). In "flow," individuals experience “intrinsic motivation, perceived ability, concentration on task, loss of self-consciousness, altered sense of time, and autotelic (self-rewarding) experience” (Pain, 1999). Today, many athletes strive to attain flow in order to achieve excellence in competition. My presentation explores flow within athletics as a promoter of good performance in competition. I examine whether or not flow is responsible for optimal performance or, conversely, if good performance stimulates flow. Through an experiment involving Whitman College athletes, several pre- and post-game surveys and performance data from a targeted competition, I suggest the overall function of flow in athletics.