08 Feb Learning something new? You’ll want to keep this surprising study in mind
Have you ever been in a situation where someone was teaching you something new–for instance, at work or in a class–and the type of feedback you received from her or him affected how well you picked up the new material?
For instance, when the instructor complimented your work, you were filled with confidence–and felt you performed even better afterward.
Or when the instructor criticized your work, it may have stung, but the negative feedback motivated you to do even better.
Get this: Turns out, how you respond to praise or criticism while learning can depend on where you are in your monthly cycle, reveals a recent study in the journal Neuropsychologia.
Specifically, when you’re in the first half of your cycle (the start of your period through ovulation) you respond more to praise, which makes you more confident in what you’re doing–perhaps, to a fault. Because this is also a time when you’re less likely to learn from mistakes or negative feedback.
And, when you’re in the second half of your cycle (the day after ovulation through the day before your next period), you respond more to criticism, which makes you try harder to do your best.
The reason? Hormones, naturally. Taking fMRI brain scan images of 15 women who were given a challenging learning test during two points in their menstrual cycle, the researchers discovered that rising estrogen in the first half of your cycle prompts brain changes that make you more sensitive to reward and less sensitive to negative feedback. And progesterone in the second half of your cycle prompts brain changes that make you less sensitive to reward and more sensitive to negative feedback.
What can you do with this information?
Now that you know in the first half of your cycle you’re more likely to get a confidence boost from praise, yet be less likely to learn from mistakes, ask your instructor to give you positive feedback to help propel your momentum. But, also ask if you need to work harder on any aspect of a task since your extra confidence may make it more difficult to see your weak spots.
And now that you know in the second half of your cycle you respond more to negative feedback, ask your instructor to give you constructive criticism that you can use to make your work even better.
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