The staff at PAR wishes you and your family an enjoyable, relaxing, and warm Thanksgiving holiday. We feel fortunate for you, our Customers, and are thankful that we can help with the important work you do all year long.
PAR author Lisa Firestone will be presenting two continuing education workshops in Boston, Massachusetts in December.

The workshops are sponsored by the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology and highlight the topics of suicide treatment and prevention and working with high conflict couples.

“The War Within: Working with Suicidal Individuals” will be held December 6, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This course focuses on giving more extensive training to practitioners in the treatment of suicidal clients.

“Transforming War Between Intimates: Working with High Conflict Couples” will be held December 7, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Focusing on Gottman’s research on the predictors of longevity in a relationship, this course will discuss styles of relating and how couples can challenge behaviors that interfere with closeness and longevity.

For more information or to register, click on the course descriptions above.
We have all heard the adage that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. But maybe gossip has gotten a bad rap. According to new research, gossip at work can be seen as a virtue.

Shimul Melwani of the University of North Carolina has researched the consequences of gossip in the workplace. If an individual gossips about someone on his or her team, the research contends that that person is viewed as being less trustworthy. However, an individual who gossips about someone on another team can be seen as someone who is building trust, promoting cooperation, and creating a social glue for their own team. The gossipers themselves, though, experience higher levels of positive emotions than those who abstain, and also report higher levels of energy and motivation, but lower levels of self-esteem.

Researcher Matthew Feinberg has even found a way that gossip makes people better off. Researchers gave participants $10, and they were told they could share as much as they want to another player. That player’s amount would be tripled, and then that player would be able to share as much as he wanted with the participant. Most people gave the entire $10 to the other player, so he would have $30. Instead of sharing this amount, that player decided to keep all $30, leaving the participant with nothing. The participant was then told that now the nefarious player is going to play this game with another person. The participants were told they have the opportunity to pass this new person a note – and 96% of participants chose to use the note as a way to gossip, writing that the player is selfish, not likely to share, out for his own interests, and more.

Once they had gossiped, participants’ heart rates dropped (most increased once they realized they had been treated unfairly). Furthermore, the more the individual valued fairness, the more likely they were to participate in this form of gossip, called prosocial gossip. In fact, in another of Feinberg’s studies, 76% of participants were willing to pay their own money just for the opportunity to gossip in an attempt to create an even playing field for others! Researchers believe that prosocial gossip may have a valuable purpose – making the community more aware of an individual’s reputation and keeping individuals from behaving in selfish and dishonest ways in order to keep their reputation intact.

Do you think gossip helps or hurts in the workplace? What is the role of gossip where you work?

A new exhibit called “The Changing Face of What is Normal: Mental Health” opened recently at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. A world-renowned science museum, the Exploratorium features a new gallery that focuses on human behavior. The mental health exhibit is designed to explore the ways society defines, perceives, and responds to those whose behavior is considered “abnormal.” Visitors are encouraged to consider that normality is a fluid concept with a range of definitions that change depending on contexts such as time and place.

The Exploratorium Web site describes three elements that make up the exhibit:

  • Artifacts from the suitcases and trunks of 14 patients who were confined at the Willard Psychiatric Center, a New York mental institution that was decommissioned in 1995. The personal items provide insight into the lives of residents before they were institutionalized.

  • A display tracing the evolution of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a guide used by psychiatric professionals to diagnose and treat cognitive, emotional, and behavioral disorders. This part of the exhibit also includes videotaped interviews with clinicians and clients speaking about their experiences and commenting on the difficulty of categorizing human behavior.

  • An interactive installation called “Restraint,” which explores the ways psychiatric patients have been restrained over time. Visitors can view, experience, and comment on various types of restraints, including the ways societies and cultures constrain everyday behavior and the ways we must often restrain our own impulses.

“The Changing Face of What Is Normal: Mental Health” will be on display at the Exploratorium until spring 2014. Have you seen it? PAR wants to hear from you, so leave a comment and join the conversation!
Have you ever marveled at a coworker’s unprofessional remarks, cringe-worthy pictures, or embarrassing comments made on social media sites? New research delves into how employees manage boundaries on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, revealing how these behaviors effect the way they are viewed by professional contacts.

Researchers Ariane Ollier-Malaterre, Nancy Rothbard, and Justin Berg believe there are two key factors that govern an individual’s social media choices—whether they are integrators or segmentors and whether they are aiming to impress or express.

Integrators intend to create connections between their professional and personal lives, blending the two spheres. Segmentors, however, prefer to keep these roles separate. On social media, this may mean using privacy controls, keeping LinkedIn connections for professional contacts and Facebook for personal friends, or simply making their profile unsearchable.

Impressers see social media as way to build a reputation and a base of followers, sharing positive information such as achievements or articles that make them look intelligent. Impressers avoid controversial posts and are careful to share information that paints them in a flattering light. Expressers, however, see social media as a way to be viewed more accurately by others, sharing experiences (both good and bad), writing about unpopular opinions, and posting pictures and articles that may not appeal to everyone on their friend list.

Bringing both boundary preferences and image motives together, the researchers were able to gain insight into how others may view and respect you. For example, an integrator with a high motivation to express may sacrifice respect from colleagues as they gain a reputation for revealing too much or sharing inappropriate information. However, keeping too much private or not accepting a friend request from a coworker is also regarded negatively by those at work. The researchers believe that mirroring the tailored nature of offline relationships may be a wise choice for professional relationships, though this may be the most time consuming way to manage social media profiles.

To read more, visit the Academy of Management Review.