listening better looked like interrupting people less W r i t i n g
Let’s go beyond the text. Chapter 12 covers four major areas of adult development:
Growing Older (pgs. 420-431)
Habits: Good and Bad (pgs. 431-438)
Intelligence Throughout Adulthood (pgs. 438-446)
Becoming an Expert (pgs. 447-457).
Choose a specific topic within one of these major areas that you find particularly interesting, personally relevant, or one that you just want to learn more about. Your task is to find more information about the topic (i.e., go beyond the information in the text) and teach us about it using one of the following methods of your choice:
- Write a 3-5 paragraph “mini-lecture” on the topic from the perspective of a professor of lifespan development. Be sure to include the results of at least one study, at least one relevant image (see below for instructions for posting images), and your references. To submit your lecture, simply reply to this discussion board prompt and paste your lecture in the text box before hitting “post reply.”
- Write a 3-5 paragraph case summary from a caregiver, doctor, nurse, or therapist point of view. Be sure to include the results of at least one study and your references. To submit your case summary, simply reply to this discussion board prompt and paste your summary in the text box before hitting “post reply.”
- Create an infographic on the topic (see Canva (Links to an external site.)* for many free, easy templates and instructions or use any other infographic maker website). (Links to an external site.)Be sure to include the results of at least one study. And, be sure to make your document look appealing with images and provide accurate information using your own words and explanations from scholarly references. Include your references, and be as creative as you’d like! To submit your infographic, simply attach the file to the text box here in the discussion board.
- Create a pamphlet or brochure on the topic. Be sure to include the results of at least one study. Microsoft Word is just one example of a program that has a number of pamphlet or brochure templates that you can use. Or, see Canva* for many free, easy templates and instructions (try searching for “brochure template”). Even though you will not be printing and folding your pamphlet, design it as if you are. That means your pamphlet should have a total of 6 panels…three panels on each side. Be sure to make your document look appealing with images and provide accurate information using your own words and explanations from scholarly references. Be sure to include your references, and be as creative as you’d like!
- Create a PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation on the topic using at least 6 slides (not including the title and reference slides). You should include speaker’s notes at the bottom of each slide if the actual slide doesn’t have enough explanation. Be sure to include the results of at least one study. Your last slide should be a list of references used to create the presentation. Be creative! To submit your presentation, simply attach the file to the text box here in the discussion board. In the text box, include the title of your presentation.
Important: If you pick options 3, 4, or 5 your creation should be the equivalent of at least 3 solid paragraphs of writing. Focus on teaching classmates new information on the topic of your choice. And, again, while you can certainly include information you learn from the textbook, your goal is to add to the information that can be found in Chapter 12. This means you should use references in addition to your textbook.
All options require findings from at least one study.
Be sure to respond to at least one classmate by the time the discussion ends.
In your response, let your classmate know:
- what you found interesting
- something new you learned
- something specific you liked about their posting
Making Positive Behavior Changes Permanent
We all have wanted to change bad habits or problematic behaviors. I know I have! If you have ever wanted to change a bad habit into a good habit, you know that wanting to change it, actually changing it, and continuing to do the new behavior or making the new behavior permanent are all very different things. Obviously, if desire was the only requirement for behavior change, adhering to a diet or exercise plan, studying regularly, stop smoking, or eating less salt or sugar would be easily accomplished.
There are a number of psychological forces that can support people in their efforts to make positive behavior changes. The more of these forces that they incorporate into their change plans, the more likely they are to change their behaviors and change them permanently. So let’s look closer at the psychology of how to get people to continue doing something.
If we want to make sustained behavior change, we first we need to set SMART Goals for ourselves.
Your goal should be detailed and narrow in focus using numbers whenever possible instead of vague descriptors. For example, the difference between “my goal is to get healthier”, “my goal is to lose weight”, and “my goal is to lose 10 lbs”
Also, do not state goals as a negative. I have had many participants tell me their goal is to stop being lazy or stop eating chocolate. Reaching goals is about taking action. How do you do a don’t? It is much better to state the goal in terms of what you will do, as opposed to, what you will not do!
It is also good to note resources that you will leverage to meet your goal. This could look like a scale, a bike for exercise, an accountability buddy name John Smith, a notebook, or even my juicer.
How will you know if you are making progress toward your goal? You must have a clear definition of success. This component answers the questions, How much? Or How many? It also tells you when you know that you have reached your goal. Back to our goal to lose weight. Saying that I will lose 10 lbs answers the question of how many. It also inherently tells me how I will measure progress – by weighing myself. I will see progress as my weight is reduced and I know when I have reached my goal.
Sometimes this is challenging for some goals. If the questions of How much? Or How many? Do not apply, answer the following questions to help figure it out: What does it look like when I reach this goal? How will I know if I am making progress on this goal? For example, I once set a goal to be a better listener. Measuring this did not match up with How much? or How many? I had to think about How would it look like if I listed better? For me, listening better looked like interrupting people less and not doing something else while I was listening to people. So I refined my goal from “my goal is to be a better listener” to “my goal is to interrupt my boss or may partner less when I am speaking to them.” This still did not work because I did not know what “less” meant. So I ended up on the following: “my goal is to interrupt my boss or my partner during 1 out of every 3 conversations.” Of course tracking this was more complicated than jumping on a scale, but I was able to track it and see when I met the goal and when I did not meet it – which is ultimately the point in making sure that it was measurable.
Your goal should be challenging, but still reasonable to achieve. One time before I knew about SMART goals, I set the following goal: I am going to work out at the gym at least 5 days a week for an hour or more. Specific? Check, Measurable? Check, Achievable? Probably NOT!At the time that I set this goal, I was catching Ubers to go to a meeting four blocks away and never exercising in a gym or anywhere else for a good 15 years. The chances of reaching this goal was pretty slim. A more reasonable goal was walking to my meetings four blocks away and only taking Ubers when it was raining!
This is a good time to outline the steps you are planning to take to achieve your goal. This can reveal potential barriers or challenges that you may need to overcome. If my first goal had been attainable, there was a potential barrier that I had not thought of – I did not belong to a gym and my budget was super tight then. I may not have been able to afford a gym membership.
To figure out how relevant your goal is, answer the following questions: Does this goal align with my values? Or Is achieving this goal important to me? Why is it important to me? This is really about being honest with yourself and making sure what you are trying to achieve is worthwhile enough to you to put in the effort it will take to be successful. Consider how the relevance of the very same goal may change based upon a person’s circumstances. My goal is to lose 10 lbs by summer and it is December; My goal is to lose 10 lbs to fit into my wedding dress and my wedding is in 2 months; My goal is to lose 10 lbs to reduce my risk of my pre-diabetes becoming diabetes. Do you see how the relevance can change?
This answers the question when? Or by when? State when you will reach your goal. Every goal needs a target date. Target dates help to motivate you and to keep you on track. It is easier to maintain motivation when you know when you will reach your goal rather than thinking that you might reach it some day.
So when you put it all together a SMART Goal looks like the following:
I will lose 10 lbs by 12/15/2020 by walking 30 minutes 6 days out of the week and practicing 12/12 intermittent fasting. I will keep track of my progress by checking off my calendar the days that I walk and noting my fasting hours each day. I will record my weight on my calendar on Monday mornings and Thursday mornings.
Now that we have our SMART Goal, how do I keep up my walking and interval eating so that I do not gain my weight back or in order to keep losing more weight?
Many people are not aware that there is a SCIENCE to getting people to continue doing something.
It has been scientifically shown that people are more likely to make changes by taking small steps. Even when people incorporate this into their change plans, they repeatedly fail. Why? Because their small steps are not small enough. It is hard to stay excited and focused about very small incremental progress. What would motivate you to stay on your diet when you really want to eat candy bars for lunch? Losing a pound, a week or 5 lbs? Right! We all want things to happen faster and bigger.
In reality, we make plans to lose 20 pounds by summer instead of going to the gym today. Or like my crazy goal of “I am going to go to the gym at least 5 days a week for an hour.” Going to the gym or doing anything for a hour is too big of a step for someone who has been sedentary for so long. If the step is so big, it will be too challenging for the person and they will most likely get discouraged and give up. My smaller step of walking to meetings that were 4 blocks away unless it was raining was a good size step. It was a little challenging, but I was able to gain success, which helped motivate me to do it again and again and walk to meetings that were even further away.
Another challenge is that sometimes people confuse steps, goals, and dreams. So to me does not have to be something huge and incredible like climbing a mountain. To me, a dream is something I have not experience doing or the experience doing it has been so long ago it is as if I have never done it. I have seen case managers do this with clients and then they are confused why the person gave up or got overwhelmed. Let me give you an example. I worked at a workforce development non-profit. We helped people who had extreme barriers to employment get jobs. We had a participant who had been homeless for the last 15 years. He had not held a job for even longer and definitely had not applied for one. I was working with a new case manager and this is the plan that she presented for him:
Goal: Get a job
Step1: Do a resume
Step 2: Apply online for a job
Step 3: Practice Interviewing
Step 4: Interview for a job
Get a job
This is great for someone who has a job and has gotten a new job within the last 1-2 years. All of the Steps in this plan were actually Dreams – not actionable steps. Any one Step could have numerous goals under them and steps under those goals because our participant.
Dream 1: Complete a Resume – considering that he had no work or volunteer experience within the last 10 years, I wondered what she would even put on this resume. I explained to her that she needed to start at the beginning and not the middle. We needed to start with thigs like getting on medi-cal and food stamps, getting clothes, helping him get into a longer shelter or transitional housing situation so that he could bathe regularly and sleep each night. Each of the things I just mentioned are goals (once we put some dates on them and identify some resources). So sometimes small is very very small and that is ok. Besides, who does not like being able to check off something they accomplished! For me I like to set short term goals that take about a week, with steps that I can complete in a day or two. Long term goals would be around 1 – 2 months. Dreams take much longer and have goals and steps under them.
Did you wonder why it is called stepladders instead of steps? It is because with steps, you can see the end, but you see all of the steps between the first and the last. This can feel very overwhelming and insurmountable. When you climb a ladder, you take one step at a time. So your focus is on the step you are working on. This is like in AA and NA, one day at a time. If a person who has used for a very long time and has not been able to even string hours together of not using, thinking that I will not use for the rest of my life is not overwhelming, it seems impossible. But saying I won’t use for the next hour or today still feels challenging, but no longer feels as over whelming or impossible.
Please understand that Stepladders is not a way to reach your dreams, it is a way to keep going so that you are able to reach your goals and your dreams! The important thing to remember for Stepladders is to make your steps appropriately small for yourself and the goal you are setting and to reflect, acknowledge, and celebrate each step you complete!
Community is a group of people with shared characteristics. These characteristics can be things you choose like a desire to lose weight or things you do not chose, like where you were born. There are numerous communities that have proven helpful in helping people make sustained behavior changes. Just to name a few are Weight Watchers, AA, NA, CrossFit Gyms, and Yoga studios. Being part of a community that centers around a shared goal helps members in a number of ways.
- People in communities begin to gain trust with each other by sharing small and big thigs about themselves and by going through challenges together. When people trust each other they become more willing to learn and more willing to change. Community members can learn easier from each other than from outside sources.
- We all have to the need to fit in and belong. When communities have clear expectations, it makes it easier for members to fit in. Belonging and connection keeps people engaged with the community and working toward the shared goals.
- Communities can help members feel good about themselves and help them increase their sense of self-worth. This helps to keep members motivated.
- Felling empowered or a person’s self-efficacy is one of the strongest predictors of change. When people are part of a community that is able to empower its members through mentoring or role modeling behaviors, they are much more likely to make lasting changes.
- People who get rewarded for certain behaviors are more likely to keep doing those behaviors. So communities that reward their members for the desired behaviors help to promote sustained change in their members
- Communities can help keep people engaged by pulling them in and keeping them part of the community and therefore engaged in the community and continuing to work toward their goals. This is kind of like how a magnet pulls metal together.
Additionally, we humans are social creatures. Many studies have found that social connections increase happiness in people and people are more likely to stick to positive behavior change when they are happier than when they are not. Hystad P, Carpiano RM. Found that community belonging was strongly related to health-behavior change.
This is the same thing as the Relevant in SMART Goals. We will put effort into changing our behaviors or reaching your goals if attainment of the goals is important to us. I will tell you that if you have not been able to keep doing something, maybe you have not found the reason why it is important enough to you to keep going.
Hal Hershfield has done numerous studies about how people see the passage of time and how these perceptions influence their decision-making and behaviors. He is primarily focused on consumer behaviors like saving, spending, and debt creation, but his findings have implications for other behaviors too. He found that people have a hard time making long-term changes when the reward is far in the future. He gave people a tool to decide how much money they should allocate each year to retirement. Each participant saw a picture of themselves while deciding. Some participants saw a current picture, while others saw a picture that was morphed to make them look older. People who saw a picture of themselves as being older allocated more money than the people who saw current pictures of themselves.
It seems like a no brainer; people will keep doing things that are easier for them to do. When people are faced with barriers or challenges, they often stop doing what they are doing. So how do you make something easy? Remove the barriers! Easy is actually a core concept in human psychology. A study at MIT asked students living in a complex of seventeen two story buildings to name their three closest friends. They found that 65% of people’s friends lived in the same building as they did. The most common friends were next-door neighbors, people living two doors down, or people living cross the hall. Their findings are not because MIT students are lazy – it is because easy is a core aspect of human psychology!
The three proven ways to make things easier is to limit choices, control the environment, and use a road map.
- Limit Choices – When you give people a smaller number of choices, it is easier for them to make a decision to do something and to keep doing it. People think that having a bunch of choices is better, but it actually makes it much harder to do things.
- Control the Environment – Making small changes in environment can lead to substantial behavior changes. Researchers have found that the most effective way to stop smoking is to remove all tobacco products from your house and to set a date.
- Use a Road map – Using a road map or a plan makes it easier because people do not have to think how to get from point A to point B.
Most people think that you have to change your thinking before you can change your behaviors. Social psychologists believe that making lasting change starts by making a small change in behavior and letting the mind reflect on that change. It is like tricking the mind into believing that change is possible because you have already made a small change.
Neuro hacks are quick and easy psychological tricks that essentially reset the mind by getting people to reflect upon past behaviors and make conclusions about who they are based upon those behaviors. If I do something new today, tomorrow those will become my past behaviors.
Self-identity is a critical component of Neurohacks because people often make decisions of what actions to take based upon how they think of themselves.
One Neurohack is to jump right in and face your fears. I have used this one a great deal and know that it works. Facing a fear head on, going through the uncomfortable feelings, and getting to the other side, greatly reduces anxiety related to those behaviors the fears were associated with. Another byproduct of this is that the next time you feel fear – even with a non-related behavior, the fear does not feel as “big” because now you have experience walking through your fears.
Did you know that smiling or frowning can get people to feel emotions even if they are not aware they are making those faces? There was a study in which participants were told to either hold a pen tightly between their teeth – which mimicked them smiling or to hold the pen tightly between their lips – which mimicked them frowning. They then asked the participants to do various things like look at cartoons and report how funny they found them. The participants who had the pen in their teeth reported that the comics were funnier. In another study, people reported feeling less angry about things after they received Botox and were unable to frown. Botox has also been shown to reduce depression.
Essentially, people will keep doing things if they feel rewarded for doing them. The catch her is that not just any reward will do. The reward has to be captivating enough to keep you doing the behavior again and again to get the reward. Rewards vary by person. Studies have found the following things to be rewarding to people:
- Financial rewards (these only work to a point and then they work less)
- Social rewards (belonging to a group, praise, competing successfully against others)
- Certain psychological states 9feeling in control, feeling calm and tranquil)
- Good Health
So how do we make things captivating?
- Make doing the right thing fun or making things you “have to do’ fun
- Use the carrot instead of the stick. Using fear does not make sustained change because as the feared event does not happen, it loses its power to produce change.
- Don’t assume money is the best reward
- Forget using education and information by itself. Millions of smokers know that smoking causes serious and fatal health conditions, but they still smoke. Education is not enough. It is better to appeal to people’s psychology and emotion if you want to help them make sustained behavior changes.
- Make the activity itself rewarding. It is important to consider people’s motivations and increase intrinsic rewards by making the activity itself rewarding instead of relying upon only extrinsic rewards.
If you do something enough time, it becomes routine and it will become engrained in your brain making it easier to sustain the behavior. One way to kind of assisting you to repeat activities is to pair them with already established behavior. Like if you want to walk every morning, pair it with putting on your shoes. In this way putting on your shoes will trigger you to go for your walk.
I hope knowing the SCIENCE of making sustained behavior change will help you form some healthy and desired habits in your future!
- My many years of changing my behavior and reaching goals and dreams and helping participants and clients change their behaviors and reach their goals.
- Young, Sean, Stick with it – A Scientifically Proven Process for Changing Your Life- for Good. New York, NY, HarperCollins, 2017. (This is where the SCIENCE of change is explained much more in depth!)
- Pham LB, Taylor SE. From Thought to Action: Effects of Process-Versus Outcome-Based Mental Simulations on Performance. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 1999;25(2):250-260. doi:1177/0146167299025002010
- Hystad P, Carpiano RM. Sense of community-belonging and health-behaviour change in Canada. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2012 Mar;66(3):277-83. doi: 10.1136/jech.2009.103556. Epub 2010 Oct 14. PMID: 20947874.
- Schweier R, Romppel M, Richter C, Hoberg E, Hahmann H, Scherwinski I, Kosmützky G, Grande G. A web-based peer-modeling intervention aimed at lifestyle changes in patients with coronary heart disease and chronic back pain: sequential controlled trial. J Med Internet Res. 2014 Jul 23;16(7):e177. doi: 10.2196/jmir.3434. PMID: 25057119; PMCID: PMC4129131.
- Rutchick AM, Slepian ML, Reyes MO, Pleskus LN, Hershfield HE. Future self-continuity is associated with improved health and increases exercise behavior. J Exp Psychol Appl. 2018 Mar;24(1):72-80. doi: 10.1037/xap0000153. PMID: 29595304.
- Hershfield HE, Maglio SJ. When does the present end and the future begin? J Exp Psychol Gen. 2020 Apr;149(4):701-718. doi: 10.1037/xge0000681. Epub 2019 Sep 16. PMID: 31524432.
- Hershfield HE, 2013, “You Make Better Decisions If You “See” Your Senior Self, Harvard Business Review; https://hbr.org/2013/06/you-make-better-decisions-if-you-see-your-senior-self
- Festinger, L., Schachter, S., & Back, K. (1950). Social pressures in informal groups; a study of human factors in housing.
- Iyengar SS, Lepper MR. When choice is demotivating: can one desire too much of a good thing? J Pers Soc Psychol. 2000 Dec;79(6):995-1006. doi: 10.1037//0022-35220.127.116.115. PMID: 11138768.
- de Vries H, Eggers SM, Bolman C. The role of action planning and plan enactment for smoking cessation. BMC Public Health. 2013 Apr 26;13:393. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-13-393. PMID: 23622256; PMCID: PMC3644281.
- Laird JD. Self-attribution of emotion: the effects of expressive behavior on the quality of emotional experience. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1974 Apr;29(4):475-86. doi: 10.1037/h0036125. PMID: 4818323.
- Lewis MB, Bowler PJ. Botulinum toxin cosmetic therapy correlates with a more positive mood. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2009 Mar;8(1):24-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1473-2165.2009.00419.x. PMID: 19250162.