Positive Psychology — Even Gloomy People Can Be Contented
Ken M. Sheldon is Academic Supervisor at the HSE International Laboratory of Positive Psychology of Personality and Motivation. He talked to HSE English News about his collaboration with HSE and about working in an international environment.
— You are a professional on motivation. So, what were your motives in joining HSE last year?
— I would be dishonest if I didn’t say that the money was part of the attraction! But I am glad to say that it has been a real pleasure getting to know the researchers at the lab, and that I am very happy with the progress of our many different projects. I suspected this would occur, which was my main motivation: to develop interesting new research questions, and answer them.
— How would you describe the current project you're working on?
— We are currently writing up a lot of data that we collected last year, at multiple locations in Russia and the U.S. We completed and submitted one paper on freedom and responsibility, and will soon be completing and submitting three other papers.
— How is it going in terms of working in international environment, in multicultural office?
— Very well. My main complaint concerns the devaluation of the Rouble! We have had a few communication difficulties in the lab, but not many, and nothing serious.
— You've been interested in factors which help people to be sustainably happy for quite a long time. What is your background? Could you be a psychoanalyst now after all these years in scientific research?
— This is a question we are not addressing directly in our Russian projects, although it is in the background. We have some relevant data so maybe we will get to that. No, I could not be a psychoanalyst, that takes years of specialized training, and is not a research kind of job.
— What are your professional plans and goals for 2015-2016?
— Keep doing what we’re doing! I will spend more time in Moscow next summer, where we will further develop our articles together.
— Have you worked out your own secret for happiness? What would you recommend to achieve a positive attitude to life?
— It is trite: Do what you love, and this will keep the positive experiences coming in, that are required to maintain us in the upper half of our potential “set range” for happiness. Even a gloomy person (by temperament) can at least be contented, if he or she can do this.
Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for HSE News service
Researchers at the HSE Laboratory for Linguistic, Intercultural, and Creative Competencies have examined the role of the Big Five personality traits in moderating the development of creativity among individuals who use multiple languages and have intercultural experiences. It has been found that acquiring multiple languages and engaging with diverse cultures can enhance an individual's creativity and compensate for some deficiencies in communicative abilities. That said, language practices are likely to foster creativity only in mentally stable individuals. The paper has been published in the International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism.
Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl believed that the quest for meaning constitutes a fundamental and intrinsic motivation for all human beings. Some other authors suggest that the need for meaning or purpose only emerges at higher levels of personality development. According to a team of psychologists from HSE and the University of Paris Nanterre, individuals who have achieved higher levels of ego development are inclined to relinquish hedonistic motives in favour of cultivating mindfulness and embarking on a quest for meaning. These findings have been published in Frontiers in Psychology.
Greater marital satisfaction lowers the risk of professional burnout, with this correlation being more pronounced among men than women. This is a conclusion made by HSE psychologists after conducting a study on the effect of social interactions on workplace burnout on a sample of 203 employees from several Russian companies. According to the researchers, gaining a better understanding of the specific aspects of burnout experienced by individuals makes it possible to address this syndrome more effectively. The paper has been published in Organizational Psychology.
Researchers at HSE's School of Psychology have used the findings of studies into creativity and multilingualism to develop 'Plurilingual Intercultural Creative Keys’ (PICK), a new programme which integrates both aspects into the teaching and learning process. The study results have been published in Psychology. Journal of the Higher School of Economics.
Fluency in foreign languages has multiple advantages in terms of cognitive abilities, communication skills, cultural awareness, and career advancement. But can bilingualism and plurilingualism (knowledge of multiple languages and related cultural contexts) contribute to creative thinking and one's ability to generate new ideas? Studies have shown that linguistic, intercultural and creative competencies are interrelated, and their synergy can give rise to plurilingual creativity. The following overview is based on several papers by Anatoly Kharkhurin, Director of the HSE Laboratory for Linguistic, Intercultural and Creative Competencies.
Skilled readers are known to extract information not only from the word they are looking at but from the one directly following it. This phenomenon is called pre-processing. Researchers from the HSE Centre for Language and Brain analysed the eye movements of primary school children and adults during silent reading and found both groups to rely on orthographic, rather than phonological, information in pre-processing an upcoming word. The study has been published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.
Resilience and well-being in difficult times can be developed via online interventions in the workplace. An international team of researchers from France, the UK, and Russia (with the participation of researchers from the HSE International Laboratory of Positive Psychology of Personality and Motivation) studied the effectiveness of SPARK Resilience, a programme for developing resilience, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The results of the study were published in the PLOS One journal.
Sergey Smetanin, Research Fellow of the HSE Graduate School of Business, conducted a large-scale analysis to examine the impact of weather conditions on the sentiments expressed by users of the Odnoklassniki (OK) social network. The findings have been published in PeerJ Computer Science. This is the first study of its kind in Russia.
Researchers of the HSE Laboratory for Cognitive Psychology of Digital Interfaces Nadezhda Glebko and Elena Gorbunova have examined the so-called ‘Baby Duck Syndrome’—the tendency among digital product users to prefer the the old version of an interface over a new one. The authors compare this phenomenon to similar cognitive biases such as the mere-exposure effect, the endowment effect, and the status quo bias. Their findings are published in Psikhologicheskie Issledovaniya [Psychological Studies].
HSE researchers Elena Agadullina, Andrey Lovakov, Maryana Balezina and Olga Gulevich examined the potential links between different types of sexism – hostile and benevolent – and the likelihood of supporting or practicing violence against women. The authors conducted a meta-analysis of academic literature to find out how sexist attitudes can contribute to violence.