Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why interest is crucial to your success

Date:
April 16, 2014
Source:
Duke University
Summary:
Maintaining an interest in the goals you pursue can improve your work and reduce burnout, according to research. "Our research shows that interest is important in the process of pursuing goals. It allows us to perform at high levels without wearing out," said one researcher. "This suggests that interest matters more than we suspected."

Maintaining an interest in the goals you pursue can improve your work and reduce burnout, according to research from Duke University.

Related Articles


"Our research shows that interest is important in the process of pursuing goals. It allows us to perform at high levels without wearing out," said Paul O'Keefe, who conducted the studies as a doctoral student in Duke University's Department of Psychology & Neuroscience, along with associate professor Lisa Linnenbrink-Garcia. "This suggests that interest matters more than we suspected."

The studies, which appear online and in the July print edition of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, examined the notion that your level of interest helps to simultaneously optimize your performance and the resources necessary to stay deeply engaged.

The studies suggest that if people experience activities as both enjoyable and personally significant -- two important components of interest -- their chance of success increases.

"Engaging in personally interesting activities not only improves performance, but also creates an energized experience that allows people to persist when persisting would otherwise cause them to burn out," said O'Keefe, now a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology at Stanford University.

In the first study, 153 Duke undergraduate students worked on a set of word puzzles. They were asked to report how enjoyable they thought the task would be before they began working on it. Then they worked on the puzzles, which were described as either being personally valuable (value condition) or of neutral value (control condition). Those who reported high anticipated enjoyment and who were in the condition framed as important performed the best.

But they didn't perform better simply because their interest drove them to work longer. Instead, their engagement was highly efficient. In other words, they were 'in the zone,' as athletes say, said co-author Lisa Linnenbrink-Garcia, who is now a faculty member at Michigan State University.

The researchers then wanted to see if this increased performance would come at the cost of wearing out, or if interest would help maintain mental resources. Using a similar procedure to the first study, they assessed participants' anticipated enjoyment of the task as well as their value for it. After working on the word puzzles, an experimenter timed how long they were able to keep a spring-loaded hand grip squeezed -- the kind used for exercise.

"Much like the self-control needed to stay on task when we'd rather do something more fun, resisting the urge to release one's grip when it becomes uncomfortable also takes self-control," O'Keefe said. Using this task allowed the researchers to measure how mentally exhausted participants were after working on the word puzzles.

So, the longer they were able to squeeze the grip, the less exhausted they were by the prior task.

"Taken together, we not only showed that those who found the task enjoyable and important performed among the best, as they did before, but they also squeezed the grip the longest," he said. "In other words, they solved the most problems and it wasn't mentally exhausting for them."

Those who were uninterested in the task, whether they found it unenjoyable or unimportant or both, didn't perform as well and were more exhausted afterward, according to the study.

O'Keefe said the findings also suggest that educators, managers and parents, among others, should cultivate interest toward relevant activities in their students, employees and children to facilitate their success.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Paul A. O'Keefe, Lisa Linnenbrink-Garcia. The role of interest in optimizing performance and self-regulation. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2014; 53: 70 DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2014.02.004

Cite This Page:

Duke University. "Why interest is crucial to your success." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140416133414.htm>.
Duke University. (2014, April 16). Why interest is crucial to your success. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140416133414.htm
Duke University. "Why interest is crucial to your success." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140416133414.htm (accessed April 21, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Labour Party Warns Britain's Health Service 'on Life Support'

Labour Party Warns Britain's Health Service 'on Life Support'

AFP (Apr. 20, 2015) Britain&apos;s opposition Labour Party Monday claimed the National Health Service (NHS) was &apos;on life support&apos; as it turned its attention to the state-run service, which is a key issue for the UK&apos;s May 7 general election. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pending Comcast-Time Warner Merger Has DOJ, FCC Concerned

Pending Comcast-Time Warner Merger Has DOJ, FCC Concerned

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2015) The Department of Justice reportedly has concerns a Time Warner-Comcast merger would create an entity too large in the cable and broadband markets. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Five Years Later, the BP Oil Spill Is Still Taking Its Toll

Five Years Later, the BP Oil Spill Is Still Taking Its Toll

AFP (Apr. 20, 2015) On April 20, 2010, an explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico started the biggest oil spill in US history. BP recently reported the Gulf is recovering well, but scientists paint a different picture. Duration: 02:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thai Customs Seize African Elephant Tusks Worth $6 Mn

Thai Customs Seize African Elephant Tusks Worth $6 Mn

AFP (Apr. 20, 2015) Thai customs seize four tonnes of African elephant ivory worth $6 million at a Bangkok port in a container labelled as beans. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins