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.
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.
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.