Psychological Self-Help

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Studies of female valedictorians and other academically gifted
women often find that they "drop out" of college or graduate school. At
the very least, almost every very bright woman finds it necessary to
frequently deny or hide her intelligence. Men and women find highly
able women threatening. You may think sexism is in the past, but
being superior is especially hard for women. Walker & Mehr (1993)
provide help for gifted women who want to achieve their potential. 
Learned industriousness
Recent research suggests we can learn to be hard, persistent
workers. Those of us who have been rewarded, often starting in
childhood, for making strong efforts to achieve our own or assigned
goals tend to develop a "work ethic" and a "moral ethic." Likewise,
training in persisting or waiting for a worthwhile reward or
achievement can help us develop better self-control involving handling
delays. So, just as there is "learned helplessness," there is "learned
There is a "law of least effort:" we all try to get things (a pay off)
the easiest way we can. That's smart and different from being lazy.
Some of us take on hard challenges, others don't. You can also see an
enormous range in the amount of effort people will expend to achieve
a given goal. Of course, the value of a goal differs from person to
person, but some people simply work much harder and longer than
others. Why? Perhaps, according to Eisenberger (1992), because some
have a long history of exerting intense effort and then being praised
and well reinforced. In effect, some have been given "effort training"
to be industrious, others haven't. One theory is that this training is
effective because being repeatedly rewarded following long, hard
efforts makes hard work in any situation seem less offensive, less
aversive, less awful. Eisenberger has also shown that self-talk ("When
I try hard, I do well on all my school work" and "when I don't, I don't")
further enhances this "effort training." Both high effort and attention to
tedious detail, if reinforced, become less unpleasant and less avoided.
Thus, reasonable and challenging-but-demanding work or study
experiences may produce harder working employees or more
motivated students. 
Eisenberger suggests another law, the "law of more effort:" if hard
work has paid off for you in the past in many different ways, your
effort and self-control will increase more, as compared to individuals
who have worked less hard, as the stakes get higher. Likewise, a boss,
teacher, or parent who has positively encouraged and reinforced your
high performance and hard efforts in the past will provide more
motivation to you than a person who is or has been more permissive. 
Unfortunately, while "effort training" seems simple at first, a little
thought makes you realize that the actual work conditions as well as
your attitudes and personality traits are all involved in determining if
your hard work is viewed as yielding rewards or punishment. If hard
work is seen as stupid and/or obnoxious, then one may develop
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