Mind Over Matter: Does Job Status Affect Intelligence?
Posted Aug 24 2008 2:14pm
It is really quite amazing that to a large extent you are what you think you are. Self-help gurus have been touting this for years and have sold million of books with the message "change your mind--change your life." Hey, if we can't change our minds what can we change?
Anyway, I do believe that the mind has a powerful affect on the body and I write about this in my book. There is a lot of research that supports this idea.
One important aspect of the mind-body effect is how we percieve the world around us. What I like to call our personal realities. When I lecture on anatomy and physiology I have to take into account that I have 20 separate realities experiencing the lecture which may result in 20 separate interpretations.
Perception is important, especially percieving that we are in a position of empowerment in our lives and jobs. Feelings of powerlessness have a negative effect on our health by creating stress.
Recently a team of researches including Pamela Smith of Radboud University Nijmegen, Nils B. Jostmann of VU University Amsterdam, Adam Galinsky of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and Wilco W. van Dijk of VU University Amsterdam conducted a psychological study that looked at positions of power and mental performance.
They put subjects into high and low power situations and asked them to complete a questionnaire that measured cognitive abilities related to executive tasks like disseminating important information and goal setting. The subjects were randomly assigned to a group in order to control confounding variables like intelligence and motivation.
What they found was that when subjects were put in an executive-like situation they performed more like executives. It was as if the situation boosted intelligence.
I couple of years ago I blogged on a classic study performed in the 1960s involving second graders ( see my post here ). In this experiment the teacher divided the children into 2 groups; one "good" and one "bad." The good group performed better than the bad group. Then she switched the groups and again the good group performed better. The children's perception had a direct effect on their intelligence.
What is really interesting is how different people percieve the same situation differently. I see this at the college where I work. Some people struggle with their jobs and others seem to happily sail through the day in the exact same job. What is different is the perception of the job. One person may feel empowered while the other feels powerless.
So if I were to give someone advice it would be to work on feeling empowered in your life. You make the decisions, you create your own reality based on your perceptions and perceptions are based on information (hey that's what my new book will be about).
Association for Psychological Science (2008, May 16). Having Less Power Impairs The Mind And Ability To Get Ahead, Study Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 18, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2008/05/080515113259.htm
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