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  • Exploring informal weak tie bonded social networks through a multi-level theoretical lens

    Weir, David; Ali, Sa'ad; York St John's University; University of Derby (2020-07-03)
    In this paper we are chiefly concerned with a desired focus on “co-evolution of networks and organizational attributes, such as innovation introduce a third type of approach to network dynamics that deals with existing networks that are self-regulating, , self-balancing, tend to be self-reproducing and can handle issues of uncertainty and complexity: for instance informal social networks of the type covered Wasta in the Arab Middle East ,Guanxi in the Chinese world and Blat in Russia (Ali and Weir, 2019). In Arab countries “Wasta” describes networks rooted in family and kinship ties, used to bypass formal bureaucratic procedures easing the process of achieving a goal through connections (Cunningham and Sarayrah, 1993; Hutchings and Weir, 2006a; Hutchings and Weir, 2006b; Smith et al., 2012). Wasta is also known as Ma’arifa or Piston, in North African nations such as Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco (Iles, 2012; Smith et al., 2012b). While these phenomena have been increasingly written about over the past decade (Smith et al., 2012a; Smith et al., 2012b; Velez-Calle et al., 2015; Horak and Taube, 2016; Weir et al., 2016; Ali and Weir, 2019), the emphasis of Western researchers has tended to be critical even dismissive characterising these phenomena as at best stages in the evolution of developing business systems of interest only in the Third World of underdeveloped societies (Loewe et al., 2008) or more pejoratively as inadequate or deviant versions of other approaches to Network Dynamics that derive from the received wisdoms of the classical approaches central to liberal market, rational economic actor paradigms at the heart of western business analysis. The results of these framings are a consensual depiction in some writings of Wasta processes as “favouritism”, “pull”, “corruption” and similar negative portrayals (Ali, 2016; Ali, Weir et al., 2016; Ali and Weir, 2019). The default possibility that these negative emergences are also to be found in other cultures for example of the USA, Europe and the UK tends not to be seriously examined as nor does the implication that the actual experienced present in all its imperfectabilities may be a safer place to start the analysis than deductive essays based on a perfect but unattainable social order as represented by the mainstream rational actor framings. As such, this paper focuses on Wasta as an case study to explore how studying such informal social networks using a multi theoretical lens can expand our understanding of this phenomena and informal social networks in general enabling us to achieve a holistic view of the network linking the structural aspects with the actors of the network which this track calls for.
  • Exposure to contact sports results in maintained performance during experimental pain

    Thornton, C; Sheffield, D; Baird, A; Northumbria University; University of Derby (Elsevier, 2020-06-26)
    During pain, motor performance tends to decline. However, athletes who engage in contact sports are able to maintain performance despite the inherent pain that accompanies participation. This may be the result of being challenged rather than threatened by pain; adaptive coping strategies; habituation to pain; or finding pain less bothersome. This study aimed to measure performance of a novel motor task both in pain and not in pain within experienced contact athletes (n = 40), novice contact athletes (n = 40) and non-contact athletes (n = 40). Challenge and threat perceptions were manipulated during the pain condition and measures of pain tolerance, perception, coping styles and bothersomeness were taken. Results indicated that contact athletes, regardless of experience, were able to maintain their performance during painful stimulation. Non-contact athletes, conversely, performed significantly worse during pain stimulation. In addition, contact athletes tended to be more challenged and the non-contact athletes more threatened within the pain condition. Experienced contact athletes demonstrated higher levels of pain tolerance and direct coping, and reported lower levels of pain bothersomeness and intensity than the other groups. The results suggest that even relatively brief exposure to contact sports may be enough to help maintain performance in pain. Being in a challenged state appears to be an important factor during performance in pain. Moreover, pain tolerance, intensity and bothersomeness may differentiate novice and experienced athletes.PerspectiveExposure to voluntary pain and challenge states are associated with adaptive responses to pain. Motor task performance may be maintained in individuals with more experience of sports-related pain.
  • A theory of challenge and threat states in athletes: a revised conceptualization

    Meijen, Carla; Turner, Martin; Jones, Marc V; Sheffield, David; McCarthy, Paul; St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London; Manchester Metropolitan University; University of Derby; Glasgow Caledonian University (Frontiers, 2020-02-06)
    The Theory of Challenge and Threat States in Athletes (TCTSA) provides a psychophysiological framework for how athletes anticipate motivated performance situations. The purpose of this review is to discuss how research has addressed the 15 predictions made by the TCTSA, to evaluate the mechanisms underpinning the TCTSA in light of the research that has emerged in the last ten years, and to inform a revised TCTSA (TCTSA-R). There was support for many of the 15 predictions in the TCTSA, with two main areas for reflection identified; to understand the physiology of challenge and to re-evaluate the concept of resource appraisals. This re-evaluation informs the TCTSA-R which elucidates the physiological changes, predispositions, and cognitive appraisals that mark challenge and threat states. First, the relative strength of the sympathetic nervous system response is outlined as a determinant of challenge and threat patterns of reactivity and we suggest that oxytocin and neuropeptide Y are also key indicators of an adaptive approach to motivated performance situations and can facilitate a challenge state. Second, although predispositions were acknowledged within the TCTSA, how these may influence challenge and threat states was not specified. In the TCTSA-R it is proposed that one’s propensity to appraise stressors as a challenge that most strongly dictates acute cognitive appraisals. Third, in the TCTSA-R a more parsimonious integration of Lazarusian ideas of cognitive appraisal and challenge and threat is proposed. Given that an athlete can make both challenge and threat primary appraisals and can have both high or low resources compared to perceived demands, a 2x2 bifurcation theory of challenge and threat is proposed. This reflects polychotomy of four parts; high challenge, low challenge, low threat, and high threat. For example, in low threat, an athlete can evince a threat state but still perform well so long as they perceive high resources. Consequently, we propose suggestions for research concerning measurement tools and a reconsideration of resources to include social support. Finally, applied recommendations are made based on adjusting demands and enhancing resources.
  • Does a natural environment enhance the effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)? Examining the mental health and wellbeing, and nature connectedness benefits

    Jorgensen, Anna; Sheffield, David; Choe, Eun Yeong; University of Sheffield; University of Derby (Elsevier, 2020-06-24)
    This study investigated whether the impacts of a commonly used wellbeing intervention, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), are enhanced when combined with the benefits of exposure to a natural environment. Participants (n = 99) were randomly assigned to a weekly one-hour MBSR in one of three different environments (i.e. natural outdoor, built outdoor and indoor environments) over a six-week period. Participants’ wellbeing outcomes and nature connectedness were measured at baseline, during the intervention and at one-week and one-month follow up. The results show that the mental health and wellbeing outcomes of MBSR are greater when it carried out in a natural outdoor environment compared with indoor or built environments. Moreover, participants in the natural outdoor environment showed sustained improvements even after one month from completion of the intervention. This study supports the potential value of natural environments as settings for the enhancement of health care delivery and therapeutic interventions.
  • Simulated natural environments bolster the effectiveness of a mindfulness programme: A comparison with a relaxation-based intervention

    Choe, Eun Yeong; Jorgensen, Anna; Sheffield, David; University of Sheffield; University of Derby (Elsevier, 2019-12-14)
    This study assesses the effectiveness of incorporating the beneficial effects of exposure to nature in a 3-week mindfulness programme. Participants (n = 122) were randomly assigned to one of two intervention groups (mindfulness, relaxation group) under different simulated environmental conditions (two natural, two non-natural environments) during an intervention lasting three weeks. The participants in the mindfulness group were asked to attend a weekly 1-h mindfulness programme. The relaxation group also spent 1 h per week on relaxation activities of their choice (e.g. reading books or magazines). Participants’ wellbeing outcomes and nature connectedness were measured before and after the three-week intervention, and at one-week follow-up. The findings show that the mindfulness programme was more effective when carried out in a natural environment. In addition, the mindfulness group in natural environments continued to improve even after the intervention was completed. This study offers valuable insights into the benefits of combining a wellbeing intervention with exposure to nature.

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