Category: Occupational

Companies’ Succession Announcements Can Inadvertently Make Work Life Harder For Incoming Female CEOs

By Emma Young

When an organisation appoints a new male CEO, the announcement will typically highlight his past achievements and the competencies that make him ideal for the job. What if the new CEO is a woman? The widely expected, gender-neutral thing to do is, of course, to make precisely the same type of announcement. However, according to the team behind a new paper in the Journal of Applied Psychology, this can make work life more difficult for her, and shorten the time that she spends in that role. Priyanka Dwiwedi at Texas A&M University and her colleagues base this striking conclusion on an extensive analysis of data on women who have been appointed to top positions in the US, as well as in-depth interviews with female executives.

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Frequent Workplace Interruptions Are Annoying — But May Also Help You Feel That You Belong

By Emma Young

Workplace disturbances during the Covid-19 pandemic aren’t quite what they used to be. Now you’re more likely to be interrupted by a cat jumping on your keyboard or a partner trying to make a cup of tea while you’re in a meeting — but if you can cast your mind back to what it was like to work in an office, perhaps you can recall how annoying it was to be disturbed by colleagues dropping by with questions or comments. These “workplace intrusions” used to be common in offices, and no doubt will be again. There’s certainly plenty of evidence that they interfere with our ability to complete tasks, and that we can find them stressful. However, no one’s really considered potential benefits, note Harshad Puranik at the University of Illinois and colleagues. In their new paper in the Journal of Advanced Psychology, the team reports that though there is a dark side to these interruptions, there’s a bright side, too. 

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Longer Interview Shortlists Could Help Women Advance In Male-Dominated Industries

By Emily Reynolds

Despite many efforts to make workplaces more equitable, women are still frequently discriminated against at work. Companies run by women are judged more harshly on ethical failings, for instance, and women are more likely to be lied to in performance reviews. This discrimination doesn’t just happen in the workplace: it can happen before someone is even employed. A study from last year, for example, found that Black women with natural hair are seen as less competent and professional than their White counterparts when interviewing for jobs.

Now a new study, published in Nature Human Behaviour, has taken a look at what could be scuppering women’s chances even before they get to the interview stage. The team, led by Brian J Lucas from Cornell University, argues that in organisations where recruitment takes place on an informal basis, via colleague recommendations or other word-of-mouth networks, changes need to be made to the shortlisting process. When shortlists are longer, the results suggest, women are more likely to be seriously considered.

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Advocates Of Equality For All Are More Likely To Show Prejudice Against Older Adults At Work

By Emma Young

Social justice movements, such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, have done huge amounts to address racism and sexism in our society. It’s now common for organisations to have diversity programmes, for example. As Ashley Martin at Stanford University and Michael S North at New York University note in their new paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Facebook has famously invested millions of dollars in increasing diversity. However — and this is a big however — the pair’s work reveals that people who are keenest to advocate for women and racial minorities harbour more prejudice against a group that reports almost as much US workplace discrimination as these two: older people. 

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Companies Undermine “Sacred” Values Like Environmentalism When Co-opting Them For Profit Or Prestige

By Emma Young

How important is it to you to protect our planet’s wildest places? Would you put a price on it — or is it the kind of goal that just can’t be subject to a cost-benefit analysis? If the latter, then for you, protecting Earth’s wilds is a “sacred value”. Patriotism, or the protection of human lives, or diversity in the workplace can be sacred values, too. So what happens when a for-profit organisation embraces such values — is the pursuit of social or environmental values and profit a “win-win”, as is often claimed?

A new paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Interpersonal Relations and Group Processes, suggests not — and it’s the value that suffers, as it becomes less sacred. If this is right, then businesses that co-opt such values in their advertising (think no end of outdoor clothing companies that make a big deal about caring for the wilderness, as just one example) are degrading the very values that they claim to promote.

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Here’s How Personality Changes In Young Adulthood Can Lead To Greater Career Satisfaction

By Emily Reynolds

Personality traits were once thought to be fairly stable. But recent research has suggested that our personality can alter over time — whether that’s due to ageing or because we decide to change our traits ourselves. And as personality is linked to our behaviour, it follows that we might see different life outcomes as our personality shifts or grows.

In a new study in Psychological Science, Kevin A. Hoff and team look at the personality changes of teenagers as they move into adulthood. And they find that certain shifts in personality can result in real-world benefits during the early years of a career, suggesting that interventions that increase particular traits and skills could make all the difference at work.

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How To Be A Good Negotiator, According To Psychology

By Emma Young

Good negotiators are more likely to secure a pay rise, get the house or job they want, and keep the peace at home. No end of psychological studies have explored which attitudes, behaviours, and settings will help a negotiation go your way. Here, we take a look at some of the key findings:

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Coping With Remote Working During Covid-19: The Latest Research, Digested

By Emma Young

Covid-19 has changed our working lives, perhaps for good. Home-working is now common, and many of us have been doing it for months. With changing rules and guidelines, some of us have even gone from home-working to socially distanced office-working, to working back at home again. So what do we know about how these changes are affecting our mental health — and what can we do to make our new working lives better?

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Leaders Can Feel Licensed To Behave Badly When They Have Morally Upstanding Followers

By Emma Young

Countless studies have investigated how a leader’s behaviour influences their followers. There’s been very little work, though, on the reverse: how followers might influence their leaders. Now a new paper, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, helps to plug that gap with an alarming finding: good, morally upstanding followers can create less ethical leaders.

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Selfish And Combative People Don’t Actually Get Ahead At Work

By Emily Reynolds

In popular culture, there’s an idea that lots of successful people are… well, not that nice. From Glengarry Glen Ross to The Apprentice, there’s a litany of bad bosses and aggressive success stories in film and television. The message seems to be that to get ahead you need to ditch the niceties and think about number one.

This stereotype might not reflect what’s really going on, however. In a new longitudinal study published in PNAS, a team from the University of California, Berkeley and Colby College tracked individuals over a fourteen year period, looking to see what became of those who were more disagreeable (not a cohort many of us would particularly long to be in).

They found that selfish, combative, and manipulative people have no real advantage at work — not because there are no benefits to such behaviour, but because its positive and negative impacts cancel each other out.

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