Thursday, May 12, 2011

Emotional Control and Working Memory Capacity

The ideal employee for most people is one who is in control of their emotions, stay calm under stressful situations, and are able to accept critical feedback. How does one get such employees? By determining if they have a large working memory capacity. Recent research shows that people with large working memory capacities are more in control of their emotions, deal best with stress, and deal well with critical feedback.

Of course, it's not so easy to determine who has a large working memory capacity. Considering that simultaneously taking notes while listening to a lecture is the kind of multitasking that demonstrates large working memory capacity, one would think that anyone who successfully finished college has demonstrated their working memory capacity is large, the fact of widespread grade inflation in colleges undermines this as a reliable measure. The article gives another way of testing, though:

To determine WMC, participants were asked to solve mathematical problems while remembering words; those who had the most correct were identified as having a higher WMC.

This is a pretty easy test to administer, and it tells you a lot about your employee or potential employee.

The ability to control one's emotions should be obvious in its benefits. Further, the first step in changing one's behavior is to be able to take criticism well. Such employees are likely to be able to learn from feedback better than those with smaller working memory capacity.

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