Toward a Human Psychology of Human Achievement

Talk by Professor Patrick Gaudreau
Wednesday, 15 November 2017 - 1:00 pm to 2:15 pm
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Contact person: 
Juanita Molano
Email: 
psychair@uottawa.ca
Phone: 
613-562-5232
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Free of charge
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Toward a Human Psychology of Human Achievement

Talk by Professor Patrick Gaudreau

From Babe Ruth to Aaron Judge and Henry Ford to Bill Gates, our society entertains a long-held admiration for individuals who perform significantly better than others. Even today, rank-ordering remains the yardstick upon which athletes, students, and employees are assessed and held accountable. Yet, did you know that less than half of the total variance in human achievement is attributable to between-person differences? Knowing that someone performs better than others fails to tell us the whole story about how achievement builds over time and fluctuates across contexts and situations. As a result, we know very little about the episodic ups and downs and long-term developmental trajectories of individuals who are trying to learn and perform in important lines of human activities. In this presentation, I will review evidence that within-person fluctuations are real and consequential. I will describe what we have learned so far in a research program in which we progressively switched our focus to investigate achievement as a process instead of merely defining it as a developmental outcome. Hopping across studies conducted in gyms and classrooms, I will discuss the real life implications of moving from a purely normative definition of success – that inadvertently fails too many of us – in favor of a developmental definition of success that centers on learning, self-improvement, and personal progress.