Positive Affirmations: Can They Help You Overcome the Odds Against You?
By Kevin Hogan
More to Lose
Think about your real world experience.
In the last decade, the last two decades, people who are wealthy
tend to get wealthier and people who have very little for whatever reason,
tend to be less well off.
Politicians try to legislate behavior and "fairness" by penalizing those
who work the hardest to compensate for those who don't.
But it has the reverse effect.
You can't tell people they are "middle class" and hallucinate they
will "do better." That's not going to happen.
And in fact, where the middle class paid 11% of all taxes in 1980, they
paid just under 5% of all Federal Taxes in 2010.
The researchers at Cornell might or might not agree with that assessment
but here's what they specifically found happened when they did the research:
The members of the superior group have more to lose.
If they are defeated by a lower status group, they will lose their feelings
This is a huge threat...if the better team loses, they will no longer be
the best. They will no longer be seen as the best.
The members of the inferior group have nothing to lose, if they are
defeated yet again, they are just maintaining their status.
Lount reported that members of mediocre teams didn't perform
better or worse against superior or other mediocre teams. There
was no big difference.
He also reported that it was only when pitted against weaker teams
that motivation INCREASED.
And that brings us to AFFIRMATIONS.
Why did people start using affirmations, anyway? Where did this concept come from? French pharmacist Émile Coué, back in the late 1880's introduced the phrase, "Every day in every way I'm getting better and better," as part of therapy for his patients. His thought was that this autosuggestion would assist people in healing themselves.
The concept caught on, especially with exponents of hypnosis. Many of today's movements (Law of Attraction/The Secret) gleefully promote the concept of affirmations as an easy way to improve your life!
What Does the Research Show?
In the Lount/Pettit study, before completing tasks, participants in the
superior group either wrote a self-affirmation, group affirmation, or no affirmation.
Lount said these affirmations were designed to make the participants
feel secure in their group identity (the group affirmation) or feel like
they were personally moral and competent (self affirmation).
A control group did not write an affirmation. [see the detailed report
The affirmations were centered around a core value of the group or
People that wrote these affirmations completed less
work than people that didn't write the affirmations.
How could THAT be?
It was as if these affirmations protected the participants against perceived threat.
Affirmations often fail because...
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