Self-control mediates the link between gender and academic achievement in sex-stereotyped school subjects in elementary and in higher secondary schools
2020-10, Achtziger, Anja, Bayer, Ute C.
We tested whether self-control, previous grades, IQ, and gender can predict performance in German, English (as a foreign language), and in math after six months. These subjects are often considered as feminine (German, English) or masculine (math). Data was collected from the third and fourth grades (N = 299) in elementary schools and in fifth and sixth grades in higher secondary schools (N = 420). Self-control predicted grades in all subjects (but best in English) and in both types of school six months later, independent of previous grades and IQ. Previous grades strongly predicted performance in all subjects. Females were higher in self-control and earned better grades in feminine subjects than males. Self-control mediated the link between gender and grades in languages in females.
N400 and LPP in spontaneous trait inferences
2011-10-18, Baetens, Kris, Van der Cruyssen, Laurens, Achtziger, Anja, Vandekerckhove, Marie, Van Overwalle, Frank
Past research on spontaneous trait inferences using event related potentials (ERPs) has consistently reported increased late positive potential (LPP) amplitudes following social expectancy violations, but no N400 modulation. In the present study, participants read scenarios describing behaviors of unknown actors. They entailed descriptions of several positive trait implying behaviors, followed by a single final sentence describing behavior that was either consistent or inconsistent with the previously implied trait. As in previous studies, we found significantly increased LPP amplitudes following inconsistent behaviors at multiple frontal sites. Unlike in previous research, we also found increased N400 amplitudes at several centro-parietal sites. The divergence of these results is explained from minor differences in the stimulus presentation procedure and possible overlap of ERP components of opposite polarity. Temporal principal component analysis (PCA) confirmed the separate influence of concurrent LPP and N400 ERP modulations, and the source of the largest factors was located using sLORETA. It is suggested that the increased N400 in response to trait inconsistencies reflects difficulties in understanding unanticipated behavior, while the LPP effect might reflect evaluative incongruence.
Staying on track: Planned goal striving is protected from disruptive internal states
2010, Bayer, Ute C., Gollwitzer, Peter M., Achtziger, Anja
Past implementation intention research focused on shielding goal striving from disruptive internal states (e.g., being anxious) by forming if then plans that link these very states to instrumental coping responses. In the present line of research, we investigated whether planning out goal striving by means of if then plans specifying opportunities to initiate goal-directed responses also protects goal striving from the negative impact of disruptive internal states. Indeed, in the face of disruptive internal states, participants who had been asked to form implementation intentions that targeted opportunities for initiating goal-directed responses outperformed participants with a mere goal intention to do well on a focal task goal. Actually, implementation intention participants performed as well as control participants who were not burdened by disruptive internal states such as being in a certain mood (Study 1), ego-depleted (Study 2), or self-definitionally incomplete (Study 3). Results are discussed by pointing to the importance of hypo-egoic self-regulation.
Strategies of intention formation are reflected in continuous MEG activity
2009, Achtziger, Anja, Fehr, Thorsten, Oettingen, Gabriele, Gollwitzer, Peter M., Rockstroh, Brigitte
Self-regulation of intention formation is pivotal for achieving behavior change. Fantasy realization theory (Oettingen, 2000) assumes that mentally contrasting a desired positive future with present negative reality turns high expectations of success into strong intentions to realize the desired future, while indulging in the positive future fails to do so. The present study tests the theory s process assumption that mental contrasting is a cognitively demanding, purposeful problem-solving strategy involving working and episodic memory, whereas indulging is a mindless daydreaming strategy involving the free flow of thought, by investigating the neural correlates of the two strategies via continuous magnetoencephalographic (MEG) activity. We observed greater activity during mental contrasting (but not indulging) compared to resting in prefrontal, frontal, parietal, and temporal areas, indicating that mental contrasting involves strong intention formation, working memory, and episodic memory. In addition, heightened activity of occipital areas was observed during mental contrasting compared to resting and indulging, suggesting that mental contrasting, more than indulging and resting, entails purposefully creating mental images. Taken together, these findings indicate that mental contrasting is indeed a purposeful problem-solving strategy based on past performance history, whereas indulging is a purposeless daydreaming strategy that is oblivious to past experiences.
The neural basis of belief updating and rational decision making
2014, Achtziger, Anja, Alós-Ferrer, Carlos, Hügelschäfer, Sabine, Steinhauser, Marco
Rational decision making under uncertainty requires forming beliefs that integrate prior and new information through Bayes’ rule. Human decision makers typically deviate from Bayesian updating by either overweighting the prior (conservatism) or overweighting new information (e.g. the representativeness heuristic). We investigated these deviations through measurements of electrocortical activity in the human brain during incentivized probability-updating tasks and found evidence of extremely early commitment to boundedly rational heuristics. Participants who overweight new information display a lower sensibility to conflict detection, captured by an event-related potential (the N2) observed around 260 ms after the presentation of new information. Conservative decision makers (who overweight prior probabilities) make up their mind before new information is presented, as indicated by the lateralized readiness potential in the brain. That is, they do not inhibit the processing of new information but rather immediately rely on the prior for making a decision.
Committing to implementation intentions : Attention and memory effects for selected situational cues
2011, Achtziger, Anja, Bayer, Ute C., Gollwitzer, Peter M.
Two studies tested whether forming implementation intentions (Gollwitzer, Am Psychol 54:493–503 in 1999) results in a heightened activation of specified situational cues. Going beyond prior studies, participants of the present studies specified these opportunities on their own (i.e., the action cues were not assigned by the experimenter), and activation level was assessed by attraction of attention and recall performance rather than lexical decisions. In Study 1, situational cues associated with the where and when to act on an everyday life goal attracted more attention than non-specified cues when presented to the non-attended channel in a dichotic listening task. In Study 2, the recall of specified cues was better than that of non-specified cues both 15 min after forming implementation intentions and after a delay of 2 days. Importantly, goal commitment and implementation intention commitment moderated this effect.
Psychologisch orientiertes Training in der Polizeiarbeit : Mentale Vorbereitung im Einsatztraining durch „Goal Shielding“
2010, Bioni, Dominik, Achtziger, Anja, Gentsch, Regina
Im Leistungssport gelten psychologisch orientierte Trainings als effiziente Methode zur Leistungssteigerung und -optimierung. Anhand der vorliegenden Studie im Einsatztraining der Polizei Baden-Württemberg soll aufgezeigt werden, dass diese Effekte sich auch auf den Polizeialltag übertragen lassen. Hierfür wurde das auf Zielintentionen und Vorsätzen basierende „Goal Shielding“ als mentale Trainingsmethode entwickelt und im Farbmarkierungstraining getestet. Polizeiangehörige sind häufig potentiellen Risiken für ihre Gesundheit oder ihr Leben und somit einer Vielzahl von Stressoren ausgesetzt. Wie gezeigt werden konnte, bedeutet eine zusätzliche mentale Vorbereitung in der polizeilichen Fortbildung nicht nur einen Nutzen bezüglich der Leistungsaspekte sondern auch für die Stressprävention.
Self-control mediates the link between perfectionism and stress
2013-09, Achtziger, Anja, Bayer, Ute C.
The relationship between perfectionism and stress is well-established. Recent research has focused on identifying the mediators of this link. Starting from a multidimensional perspective on perfectionism, we investigated the role of self-control and found it to be a mediator between perfectionism and stress in a sample of university freshmen. Further, perfectionistic concerns (i.e., discrepancy; Slaney et al. 2001) were positively correlated with stress, whereas perfectionistic strivings (i.e., high standards; Slaney et al. 2001) were negatively correlated with stress. Practical implications regarding overcoming maladaptive perfectionism are discussed.
Intentions and their limits : Perspectives in psychological science
2011, Suchodoletz, Antje von, Achtziger, Anja
This paper discusses psychological approaches to intentions and to the limits of intentions and the biological foundations of intentions. Following a minimum common argument about what intentions are, psychological aspects of intentions are reviewed. We begin with a discussion of the developmental perspective on intentions. Then, the focus turns to the discussion of the limits of intentions, followed by the presentation of strategies that can help to overcome problems of goal setting and goal striving. Finally, different aspects of intentions are addressed, for instance, intentions as results of decisions after deliberation and as processes of conscious and unconscious goal striving.
Responding to subliminal cues : do if-then plans facilitate action preparation and initiation without conscious intent?
2009, Bayer, Ute C., Achtziger, Anja, Gollwitzer, Peter M., Moskowitz, Gordon B.
Forming implementation intentions ( If I encounter cue X, then I will perform behavior Y! ) is postulated to trigger action initiation without further conscious intent once the specified cue is encountered (Gollwitzer, 1999). In two experiments using an injustice paradigm or a categorization task, critical situations (specified in the if-component) were subliminally presented and it was tested whether these situations influenced the preparation (Study 1) and initiation (Study 2) of the planned goal-directed behavior (specified in the then-component). After the subliminal presentation of the critical situations, implementation intention participants showed stronger action preparation and a faster action initiation, as compared to control participants (Study 1) who had not formed any goal intention at all, and compared to participants (Studies 1 and 2) who had only formed goal intentions. These findings suggest that forming implementation intentions leads to automatic action initiation without further conscious intent.