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Psychological Resistance, Immersive Journalism, and The Impact on Soft Skill Training

Updated: Mar 12

By: Peter Young, CCDP, BBPH

Published: February 14, 2024

Updated: March 12, 2024


Have you ever been captivated by a story or profoundly moved by a news article to the extent that it altered the way you behave? Impactful journalism stands as one of the most potent catalysts for behavioral and social change in modern history. Throughout the ages, compelling stories and evidence have significantly molded our individual and social behaviors, creating emotional and psychological connections that drive us to make positive changes in ourselves and the world around us.

Psychological Resistance

The Persistent Struggle with Change

Despite the influence of impactful stories and compelling evidence, many of us grapple with the same unhelpful behaviors day-to-day. Despite having our own emotional connection to our failures and access to irrefutable evidence, we often find a continuing struggle with such common challenges as miscommunication, unresolved problems, opposition, and ineffective decision-making. Changing behavior isn’t a straightforward task, as acknowledged by the widespread sentiment that if it were easy, everyone would do it. Let's see if we can change that mentality by understanding what keeps us from being motivated to change.


Exploring the Complexity of Psychological Resistance

Our first stop on the journey to understanding why change is elusive leads us to psychological resistance. But before we unpack psychological resistance, let's look at resistance in general. Resistance is defined by the American Psychological Association as generally any action in opposition to, defying, or withstanding something or someone. This intricate concept coined by Sigmund Freud, rooted in defense mechanisms, encompasses actions that oppose, defy, or withstand change. Drawing from the wisdom of experts like Sigmund Freud, Stephen Hayes, Carol Dweck, Leon Festinger, and Irving Janis, we unravel the complexities that contribute to our “f-it” mentality when confronted with the challenges of changing behavior. Psychological resistance, then, is a barrier to change that involves thoughts, emotions, and behaviours.


Are We Open to Changing?

Stephen Hayes’ and Carol Dweck’s concepts on psychological inflexibility and fixed mindset highlight how we can sometimes lack an ability or willingness to be open, adaptive, and effective in the presence of changing situations.


cognitive dissonance and soft skill development

The Internal Struggle for Change

Leon Festinger’s cognitive dissonance theory states that we experience an internal struggle when we realize a discrepancy between our beliefs and actions. We might experience doubts or frustration when we realize that we haven't overcome a challenge we believed we could. According to Leon Festinger’s theory, we end up making a choice to reduce this internal struggle. Either we change our beliefs about the situation, or we decide to make changes. During this process however, we tend to seek advice from those we trust, usually from family or friends. Irivn Jarvis' theory of group think would suggest that since our friends and family want to maintain a good relationship with us, and consequently tend to avoid conflict or critically analyzing any opposing perspectives that might be relevant.


Motivation and Behaviour

Delving into the theories of B.F. Skinner, Abraham Maslow, and Edward Deci/Richard Ryan, we uncover the dynamics of motivation. Skinner’s behavior-consequence relationship highlights how behaviours are reinforced through successes and conversely behaviours that do not lead to a positive outcome are less likely to occur again which explains why we tend to give up when we are not successful in trying a new way to approach a challenge,


Prioritizing Change and Our Basic Needs

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs suggest that our more primal and immediate needs outweigh those that are not as important to survival. This explains why many of us regularly avoid addressing interpersonal challenges at work for fear that we will lose our job and not come home with a paycheck,. Deci/Ryan’s framework for intrinsic motivation emphasizes our need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness for motivation to occur. These concepts and theories lay the groundwork for understanding what drives us to change.


Motivation and soft skill development

Essential Takeaways for Sparking Motivation

Combining these theories, we can say the journey to spark motivation for change involves acknowledging emotions, beliefs, and needs. It requires a deep understanding of the immediate necessity of change and the adoption of a mindset characterized by willingness, curiosity, and a sense of control over the change process.


The Enriching Impact of Effective Storytelling and Journalism

While impactful events like 9/11, Me Too, and COVID-19 have the power to create change, it is the comprehensive coverage, diverse perspectives, ongoing discussion, and actionable opportunities presented by effective storytelling and journalism that truly motivate us. Technological advancements, led by visionaries like Nonny de la Peña, elevate the immersive experience, forging deeper connections to news and non-fiction with immersive journalism, allowing us to understand how we can engage and make a difference with our behaviour.


The Impact for Soft Skill Training

Recognizing that we all resist change is the first step towards addressing the challenges of soft skill development. Tackling fear, embracing psychological flexibility, and acknowledging cognitive dissonance are essential strategies. Celebrating small victories to reinforce positive changing behaviour, meeting basic needs, and integrating immersive experiences that allow for better understanding of what is beyond us create a transformative landscape for soft skill development.


Conclusion

In conclusion, the reality of psychological resistance, immersive journalism and the impact on soft skill training is evident. The intricate dance between them forms the crux of overcoming challenges in soft skill development. Although the journey to developing soft skills might be difficult, it is undoubtably rewarding. Until next time, don't forget to learn, play, and innovate.


References

American Psychological Association. (2024). APA Dictionary of Psychology- Resistance. https://dictionary.apa.org/resistance


Bond, F. W., Hayes, S. C., & Barnes-Holmes, D. (2013). Psychological flexibility, ACT, and organizational behavior. In Acceptance and mindfulness at work (pp. 25-54). Routledge. Retrieved from: https://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/23/1/bond_jobm2006_preprint_GRO.pdf


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Cramer, P. (2015). Understanding defense mechanisms. Psychodynamic psychiatry, 43(4), 523-552. Retrieved from: https://www.insight.org.ro/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Cramer-Understanding-Defense-Mechanisms.pdf


De la Peña, N., Weil, P., Llobera, J., Spanlang, B., Friedman, D., Sanchez-Vives, M. V., & Slater, M. (2010). Immersive journalism: Immersive virtual reality for the first-person experience of news. Presence, 19(4), 291-301. Retrieved from: https://diposit.ub.edu/dspace/bitstream/2445/52803/1/631348.pdf


Dweck, C. S. (2009). Mindsets: Developing talent through a growth mindset. Olympic Coach, 21(1), 4-7. Retrieved from: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/59b30c88b7411c6d02f4046e/t/6124b80da6cfc71124b412b6/1629796366153/USOC-MINDSETS-by-Carol-Dweck-2.09+%281%29+%281%29.pdf


Good Therapy. (2015, July 22). Irving Janis (1918-1990). Goodtherapy.org. https://www.goodtherapy.org/famous-psychologists/irving-janis.html


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Hayes, S. (2024). About Steven C. Hayes, PhD. Stevenhayes.com. https://stevenchayes.com/about/


Janis, I. L. (2008). Groupthink. IEEE Engineering Management Review, 36(1), 36. Retrieved from: https://agcommtheory.pbworks.com/f/GroupThink.pdf


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About the Author

Peter Young, CCDP, BBPH
Peter Young, CCDP, BBPH

Meet Peter, a lifelong learner driven by passion for innovation and personal growth. Positioned in the middle of seven siblings growing up, Peter comprehends the pivotal role soft skills play in maintaining relationships and finding success. From providing behavioural counselling and career counselling to hosting team-building events and activities, Peter's diverse work experiences fueled his curiosity to learn and share knowledge. Armed with a degree in behavioral psychology, real-world roles in social services, and certification in career development practice, Peter brings a unique perspective. Specializing in soft skills like communication, problem-solving, teamwork, and stress management, he employs immersive virtual reality experiences to craft dynamic, positive learning environments. As a certified Career Practitioner, Peter is dedicated to guiding individuals and organizations toward success in today’s fast-paced workplace. Join him on this exciting journey of unlocking potential through innovative and immersive learning experiences.

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