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Hello and Welcome! :)

Adoree Durayappah-Harrison I am Adoree Durayappah-Harrison: a writer and perpetual student of life. My passion is bringing scientific and academic knowledge into the real world, helping us improve and flourish. In this site you can learn a bit about me, read my blog Healthy Living—the science behind a better you—and check out the page for my upcoming book, Intrinsic Me: Weight Loss & Fitness, which looks at how successful weight-loss happens for different people based on their strengths. Have fun exploring the site!

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15 June 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Weight Loss Motivation: Secrets to Staying on Track, Part 3

In Part 3, the last in this series, learn how to tap into your unique drivers—what motivates you, what you enjoy—and discover how to connect fitness and weight loss to your interests and values for long-term success.

So let’s get started.

The Foundational Why

Tapping into your intrinsic motivation and inner drive begins with what I call the foundational why.

The foundational why refers to finding out how to make your desire to lose weight and get in shape into a journey that is valuable and positive rather than just being about weight loss or looking good for the summer. This simple yet powerful question is necessary for any weight loss or fitness program to be successful.

splitshire.com/Pexels
Source: splitshire.com/Pexels

Start by sitting down with paper and pencil and write down why you want to lose weight or get in shape. Write down every reason that you can think of.

After you have gotten all of your thoughts down, go over your responses.

What are the reasons? Do they come from outside yourself or from within? If they come from within, how much are they integrated with your sense of self?

For example, let’s say one of your responses is similar to one of the following:

  • Because I should
  • Because I am ashamed of my weight
  • Because I want to look good for summer

If any of these sounds close to your answers, it means that you are working from extrinsic motivation.

Is Extrinsic Motivation Bad?

So the simple answer is yes and no. The more complicated answer is that, yes, extrinsic motivation is poor in the long run, but many studies have shown that it is actually quite common to see at the start of a weight-loss journey.

In one study conducted in England on 425 government employees, researchers found that extrinsic motives such as appearance and weight management dominated in the early stages while reasons related to intrinsic motivation such as for enjoyment or revitalization were stronger in the maintenance stage.

Studies such as this show that external or introjected motivation can produce results but only in the short term, and as we know, weight-loss is a long term problem.

It’s okay to have extrinsic motivation as long as you are not operating only on extrinsic motivation.

Finding Your Intrinsic Motivation

Since you need intrinsic motivation for long-term success, what type of answers might one be looking for when assessing their foundational why?

Answers that represent intrinsic motivation would be responses that are connected to who you are as an individual, with what you value or enjoy doing. You may be the type of person who loves adventure, or maybe social comradery is important to you. Perhaps you value activities that connect with your spiritual side.

You might have a good sense of what makes you happy in life and what is most important to you. Or maybe you have an idea but you’re not sure how to apply this to weight loss or fitness.

If so, I recommend doing this one exercise to help you think about what’s really important to you and what your unique drivers are. It’s called the You at Your Best Exercise.

You at Your Best Exercise

splitshire.com/Pexels
Source: splitshire.com/Pexels

Think of a time where you felt you were at your personal best. What were you doing? Who were you with?

This event is like a snapshot of you in your finest hour and something that you feel most proud of. It could be a really big action or it could be a small action but it exemplifies you and your character.

Write down this event in detail and then go over it. What does this event say about what you value in life, about what individual strengths you already possess, about what you enjoy doing just for the sake of doing it.

Ask yourself:

  • Why did you choose this event?
  • Why is it meaningful to you?
  • What does it symbolize or represent?

The You at Your Best Exercise will help you connect improving your health to things that you really care about, to things that mean something to you, by showing you what your personal drivers are.

For example, perhaps this exercise reveals that you are someone for whom family is really important. In which case, think of your foundational why in terms of your loved ones or connect them with your health goals. It could be exercising with your partner, or perhaps going on walks with your parents.

It may reveal that you get energy from your sense of ambition. In which case, setting ambitious goals is something that you value and drives you to succeed. Maybe then sign up for an upcoming marathon?

Perhaps it reveals that when you are at your best you are using your humor and sense of play. If so, consider how to tap into that energy when deciding what fitness classes or activities to join. For some people, the addition of wearing silly socks to the gym can change their attitude to working out.

The idea behind this exercise is to understand what naturally interests you in order to draw upon that to create lifestyle changes that you will enjoy.

The Fun Factor

study from Cornell University shows how when exercise is fun, an interesting positive side effect emerges. That is, we end up improving our eating behavior as a result.

unsplash.com/Pexels
Source: unsplash.com/Pexels

When we think of exercise as exercise, we think of it as work, and so with work we operate on extrinsic motivation and need a reward.

Since we need a reward, what usually happens is that when choosing what to eat after exercising, we often choose the more indulgent option. This is called the licensing effect in psychology.

But what happens if we think of physical activity as fun and not just exercise?

In this situation we are using intrinsic motivation since the activity is enjoyable for its own sake.

The result is that we don’t need an external reward; the physical activity is reward enough. So, when it comes time to eat, we end up choosing healthier options.

By obeying the fun rule, you end up drawing upon intrinsic motivation. This helps you succeed not only by reinforcing the action next time, but also by ensuring that our other health choices support our decision to lose weight and exercise.

So if you are thinking about losing weight or getting in shape, hopefully this article has encouraged you to not just google the latest diet or fitness program but to pause and consider the internal strategies–your personal sources of motivation—that can really make the difference between yo-yo dieting versus making lifestyle changes.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Don’t forget that this is really all about you and not about the diet or program. So remember:

  • Do this for yourself
  • You are the expert of your life
  • You have all the tools to succeed
  • You choose what is right for you
  • Have fun
  • Be you

Adoree Durayappah-Harrison, M.Div., M.A.P.P., M.B.A., is a writer on health and psychological well-being. Learn more at AdoreeDurayappah.com.

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15 June 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Weight Loss Motivation: Secrets to Staying on Track, Part 2

In Part 2 of this series, Weight Loss Motivation: Secrets to Staying on Track, we discuss what new science reveals about the connection between internal reasons to change and successful weight loss.

Autonomous Motivation Leads to More Weight Loss

In 1996 a team of scientists from the Departments of Psychology and Medicine at the University of Rochester, New York wanted to investigate motivation and weight loss. The researchers found that the type of motivation the participants had significantly affected how much weight was lost.

CC0 Public Domain /Pixabay
Source: CC0 Public Domain /Pixabay

For the study, the researchers recruited 128 men and women who were severely obese. The participants attended a 6-month weight-loss program. Each participant’s motivation for why they were partaking in the program was assessed in the same way, but in far more detail, than the simple exercise we did in Part 1 of this series.

They looked at the various forms of motivation that arise internally from the self or, conversely, from external sources. Basically, how much an individual acts with volition rather than feeling pressured to act.

The researchers discovered that participants whose motivation for weight loss was more autonomous (more identified or intrinsically motived):

  • Attended the program regularly
  • Lost more weight during the program
  • And more successfully maintained weight loss at follow up

What Might a More Autonomous Reason for Weight Loss Look Like?

Consider the following scenario. A thirty-something woman has been yo-yo dieting all her life. It started in high school, then again in college, then off-and-on throughout her 20s. But each time her diet or exercise program wouldn’t stick. She would lose several pounds then gain more back.

But then in her 30s she becomes a new mother and after her baby is born she wants to lose the weight. But this time, her motivation is different. While before she had wanted to lose the weight because she wanted to be skinny, now she is thinking about losing the weight to be able to run around after her baby girl. She also decides that she wants to start setting healthy examples for her child to follow.

Now, weight loss and exercise are framed differently. While before she wanted to lose weight because she wanted to lose weight, now weight loss and exercise are motivated by her desire to be a mom and to raise her family. Her reasons for weight loss have become integrated with what she values and enjoys in life.

Thus, participants whose reasons for weight loss were more closely integrated with their sense of self and their values, had more powerful and driving reasons for them to attend the program, which gave them a significant advantage in losing weight and being able to maintain it.

Perceived Autonomous Support

CC0 Public Domain/Pixabay
Source: CC0 Public Domain/Pixabay

In the same study, in addition to the findings just discussed, the researchers discovered something very important for any health club, weight loss clinic, wellness resort, nutritionist, doctor, or coach to know.

They found that it was not only the participants’ autonomous motivation that affected their success but also the perceived autonomy supportiveness of the environment created by the health-care staff. Basically, did the staff promote choice and let the individuals develop their own health goals and accept the regulation for change as their own.

“Health professionals are encouraged to help participants make the transition from should to want to motivation.”― Teixeira et al.

The more the staff supported identified and intrinsic reasons for change, the more likely participants stayed in the program. As the authors of the study wrote:

“It suggests that the interpersonal climate created by the health care staff of a weight loss program will influence the relative autonomy of patients’ motivation, which in turn predicted higher attendance and improved weight loss.”

If autonomous motivation from participants and the health-care setting makes or breaks the success of a weight loss program, scientists wondered if they would be able to boost participants’ identified and intrinsic motivation to help their weight loss and maintenance be more effective.

As it turns out, boosting these types of motivation had shocking effects.

Long Lasting Weight-Loss 

Between 2005 and 2007, Pedro Teixeira and his team at the Technical University of Lisbon partnered with researchers from the University of Wales. Their goal was to study long-lasting weight-loss management to understand why some people are successful while so many others are not.

For the study, the intervention consisted of a one-year behavior program for over 200 overweight and moderately obese women aged 25 to 50.The participants received either an intervention focused on promoting identified and intrinsic sources of motivation, or a general health education program, which was the control group.

The objective was to promote long-term weight loss and sustained motivation by promoting the sense of volition and choice in the following ways:

  • Provide participants with a menu of options
  • Encourage participants to find the activities they enjoyed the most
  • Direct activities towards prompting fun, enjoyment, reaching new goals

After 12 months, Teixeira and his team found that

Increasing identified and intrinsic forms of motivation predicted weight loss maintenance for 3 years.

Their findings confirmed the results of a similar study conducted with American women who were given a 4-month lifestyle weight-control intervention.

In that study, the scientists found that changes in intrinsic motivation—that is increases in enjoyment and interest—to be the best predictor of 16-month weight changes. Intrinsic motivation even explained some of the long-term effects of the intervention on weight control over and above changes in eating-related behaviors.

These groundbreaking findings have shown that what plays a central role in the maintenance of exercise and physical activity behaviors are:

  • Enjoyment
  • Perception of competence
  • And intrinsic reasons for weight loss

Intrinsic Motivation and Improved Eating Habits 

CC0 Public Domain/Pixabay
Source: CC0 Public Domain/Pixabay

Study after study from researchers around the world has discovered how powerful intrinsic goals and reasons for change can be. For instance, other studies have shown how identified and intrinsic motivation for eating is associated with healthier eating patterns.

In one study, participants were more likely to eat a significantly healthier diet of less fat and cholesterol and more fruits and vegetables if they tended to agree more with the following items:

  • Eating healthy is part of the way I have chosen to live my life
  • It is fun to create meals that are good for my health
  • Eating healthy is congruent with other important aspects of my life
  • Eating healthy is a way to ensure long-term health benefits

As we have seen from the research, intrinsic forms of motivation are important to adhere to any long-term health behavior.

The next question is, naturally, how do we tap into our own sources of internal motivation?

In Weight Loss Motivation: Secrets to Staying on Track, Part 3, the final part in this series, we cover how to find your intrinsic motivation to make your health journey not only successful but also enjoyable.

Adoree Durayappah-Harrison, M.Div., M.A.P.P., M.B.A., is a writer on health and psychological well-being. Learn more at AdoreeDurayappah.com.​

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15 June 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Weight Loss Motivation: Secrets to Staying on Track, Part 1

We know from personal experience that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to improving health. We also know this from science.

A recent meta-analysis study in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at different weight loss plans and found no significant difference between the success of one program versus another. It came down to the individual’s motivation to stay with the program that made all the difference.

The question isn’t which diet or fitness plan is the best. It is really what is the best program for you, so that you can stick with it and make lifestyle changes.

In this 3-part series, Weight Loss Motivation: Secrets to Staying on Track, we discuss how who you are as an individual is one of the most important factors when deciding what makes a weight-loss program, diet, or exercise regimen successful.

Alex Shalamov/Shutterstock
Source: Alex Shalamov/Shutterstock

What most articles on exercise or weight loss do not cover is the power of working from one’s own personality, unique style, and what is important to the individual.

These psychological factors are a huge set of resources that can make all the difference in your health journey. They provide you with intrinsic motivation, doing something because you are interested in it, value it, and enjoy doing it. And as new science tells us, it makes all of the difference between just dieting versus successful weight loss and maintenance.

But before we discuss what the latest research reveals about motivation, let’s explore why we are stuck in the dark ages of motivating healthy behavior.

The Old and Flawed Way of Motivating Weight Loss

Consider the following quote from our wise buddy Mark Twain and tell me how much his statement rings true.

“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.”― Mark Twain

In all honesty, this view sounds correct. After all, Mark Twain said it. And he seems to know his stuff. However, scientific research tells us that the opposite is true.

Twain’s statement represents the traditional approach to dieting and fitness—that to lose weight is to be miserable.

We diet. We exercise. We might even lose weight, but we turn into woeful, glum little souls, so we don’t keep up the diet. We tell ourselves, or worse, we hear from others—friends, family, teachers, doctors, coworkers—that you’re just not motivated.

But we have been operating on this faulty logic far too long. Thankfully, research at the intersection of medicine, psychology, and weight loss management has emerged to disabuse us of our flawed and destructive way of thinking.

Research in the field of psychology in self-determination theory has shown that the type of motivation is more important than the amount of motivation when pursuing a weight-loss goal.

What Type of Motivation Do You Have?

Below you see four different responses to the following prompt:

I am losing weight because…

  1. I feel like I have no choice; others make me do it
  2. I would feel bad about myself if I did not
  3. It feels important to me personally to accomplish this goal
  4. It is a challenge to accomplish my goal; because it is fun

Now, choose the answer that sounds most like you.

Let’s look again at the responses, this time with the names of each type of motivation and the characteristics of the motivation written below.[i] The 4 types of motivation are external, introjected, identified, or intrinsic.

Which type of motivation did you have?

I am losing weight because…

  1. I feel like I have no choice; others make me do it: External motivation [Losing weight is not entirely your decision. You feel that you have to do this because someone, like your partner or your doctor, insisted. You are driven by either rewards or punishment.]
  2. I would feel bad about myself if I did not. Introjected motivation [Your reason to lose weight is only partially endorsed by you. Although you have chosen to lose weight, you are doing it to avoid feeling guilt or your ego is involved.]
  3. It feels important to me personally to accomplish this goal. Identified motivation [You decided to lose weight because it is valued by you. You have a positive view of your choice to lose weight.]
  4. It is a challenge to accomplish my goal; because it is fun. Intrinsic motivation [Your motive to be healthy is done for its own sake because you value being healthy. You eat healthy and engage in some sort of physical activity for the pleasure of the activity.]
gratisography.com/Pexels
Source: gratisography.com/Pexels

According to self-determination theory, different kinds of motivation underlie our behavior and each type falls along a continuum in the following order from least to most autonomous: from external, introjected, identified, to intrinsic.

A more autonomous motivation is one that is self-regulated and promotes choice and individual initiative.The most autonomous form of motivation is intrinsic motivation.

Just think about Mark Twain’s quote and where he falls on the continuum.

“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.”― Mark Twain

Twain would probably be checking off either answer 1 or 2: external or introjected motivation. He definitely does not find any enjoyment in pursuing health, so he is staying far from intrinsic motivation.

External and Introjected Motivation

Answers 1 and 2 represent the types of motivation that emanate from external reasons to change, like what others or society think you should look like. These behaviors are experienced as pressured or coerced by some external force.

External motivation works on external demands and operates on the contingency of if/then:

If I lose 10 pounds, then I will go to my 15 year high school reunion.

This motivation is purely external to your interest in losing weight. It is done in order to obtain a reward or avoid a negative consequence.

An interesting example of external motivation is the competition that takes place in Dubai where parents and children are rewarded in gold—yes gold—for losing weight and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

CC0 License/pixabay.com
Source: CC0 License/pixabay.com

Individual participants receive one gram of gold per kilogram they lose (about 2.2 pounds) and a family gets double that, two grams of gold for each kilo. Kind of makes you want to eat a bathtub of cookie dough and move to Dubai, right?

If the participants are losing weight merely for the reward in gold, then their motivation is purely external. You might have heard of the carrot and stick forms of motivation. Well this is the karat form.

Introjected motivation is also motivated by external reasons to change. But it differs from external motivation in that it is done for somewhat internal reasons as well.

The problem, however, is that these internal reasons are negatively focused. They come from feelings of guilt or shame.

Identified and Intrinsic Motivation

Answers 3 and 4 are two forms of internal reasons for losing weight. Research has shown that these types of motivation are internally driven, meaning you feel that you have real choices and the origin of your decision comes from you.

Identified motivation is when you have a positive view of losing weight or it is a behavior that you value. Maybe you want to be healthy for a loved one and your future together. For identified motivation there is a strong sense of personal importance and meaningfulness in the task.

Intrinsic motivation is the prototype of self-determination because the behavior is engaged for its own sake, for the simple pleasure and interest in the activity. This motivation involves a focus on the task and produces energizing emotions such as interest, enjoyment, and challenge.

Study after study is showing just how crucial identified and intrinsic motivation is to the efficacy and maintenance of a weight loss or exercise program. Find out what the latest research reveals in Weight Loss Motivation: Secrets to Staying on Track, Part 2.

Adoree Durayappah-Harrison, M.Div., M.A.P.P., M.B.A., is a writer on health and psychological well-being. Learn more at AdoreeDurayappah.com.

Note:

[i] These prompts are examples from the Treatment Self-Regulation Questionnaire (TSQR) as seen in Perceived locus of causality and internalization: Examining reasons for acting in two domains.

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15 December 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Are You Being Too Assertive? Not Enough?

Assertiveness_smallMany people want to be more assertive in the workplace. Being assertive can help you voice your opinions to your coworkers, help you negotiate that promotion and pay raise, and also has a number of health benefits.

According to the Mayo Clinic, assertive behavior and communication can help with stress management and improve your coping skills. As the Mayo Clinic explains, being assertive shows that you respect yourself and you are willing to stand up and express your thoughts and feelings. It boosts your self-confidence and can improve your work satisfaction.

Many people want to be more assertive but suffer from being too passive, abandoning their good ideas or not voicing their opinions to avoid conflict with others.

In addition to the problem of being too passive, there is also the issue that others face of being overly assertive in the workplace. Just as passivity can have repercussions to being successful at work, so too can not knowing the right amount of assertiveness to employ.

In a series of studies published in 2007 by Daniel Ames, a professor at Columbia Business School, and Francis Flynn, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, research showed that what makes a good leader is the right amount of assertiveness.

The scientists asked workers their views of colleagues’ leadership strengths and weaknesses. The research showed that the most common weakness described was the coworker’s assertiveness. Half of the comments pointed to an issue with too much assertiveness and the other half described too little.

“Assertiveness dominated reports of leadership weaknesses, though it wasn’t nearly as common in colleagues’ comments about strengths,” said Ames. “When leaders get assertiveness wrong, it’s glaring and obvious, but when they get it right it seems to disappear.

Ames compares the right amount of assertiveness at work to the right amount of salt in a dish.

“When there’s too much or too little, it’s hard to notice anything else, but when it’s just right, you notice the other flavors,” said Ames.

But just how hard is it to get the right amount? That perfect level of assertiveness. As the science shows, it is much harder than we might think.

In a new study conducted by Ames with fellow researcher Abbie Wazlawek, a doctoral student at Columbia Business School, there is one major problem standing in the way of workers finding that right level of assertiveness. That obstacle is their own self-awareness.

Unlike a chef who can tell if she under seasoned or over salted a dish, many people are absolutely oblivious to how assertive they come across to colleagues.

In the study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin in June of this year, researchers found that there is a huge disconnect between how assertive someone thinks they are and how assertive their colleagues view them to be.

The investigators conducted a series of four studies to test the connection (or dis-connection) between assertiveness and self-awareness. Three of the four studies involved mock negotiations with MBA students enrolled in a negotiation course at Columbia Business School, and the fourth study was an online survey of 500 US adults.

In the first three studies, the MBA students were paired up to do a mock negotiation over licensing rights, after which each participant answered questions about their own assertiveness and the assertiveness of their counterpart. The negotiators were also asked to guess what their counterpart said about their assertiveness.

The results of the studies showed a major disconnect between people’s self-awareness of their assertiveness and what others thought of them:

  • 57 percent of people who were viewed by their counterparts as being under-assertive thought that they were the right level of assertiveness or even too assertive.
  • 56 percent of people who were viewed as being over-assertive by their counterpart thought they came across as appropriately assertive or even under-assertive.

The results indicate that at work many people worry that they are coming across as a jerk, fearing that they are too assertive when their colleagues believe, in fact, that they are not assertive enough. Then there are the employees that are seen as jerks by their coworkers because they are being too pushy, when they judge their actions as reflecting the right level of assertiveness.

The study also showed that many people who were getting assertiveness right actually mistakenly viewed themselves as pushing too hard and felt that they had crossed a line during negotiation. As Ames and Wazlawek explained, those who mistakenly thought that they transgressed this line attempted to make up for their over assertiveness and agreed to less desired terms in an attempt to smooth things over.

All of this research indicates that getting to that perfect level of assertiveness is definitely important to a successful and satisfying career and that one of the biggest barriers is the individual’s own self-awareness.

Most employees are just unsure about how assertive they are actually coming across. But the research strongly suggests that if you want to season your behavior with just the right amount of assertiveness, you can’t rely on your own palate, it is important to let others taste test your behavior.

As Ames explains, “We often find that students and executive are unaware of how other people see their behavior. One reason is because people typically don’t get candid feedback on things like assertiveness”.

But this poses problems as Ames adds,

“Who wants to tell the overbearing boss that he or she is a jerk?”

 

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14 November 2014 ~ 0 Comments

The Most Overlooked Reason Why You’re Late

For a good percentage of Americans, three little words habitually accompany one’s entrance into a business meeting, a gym class, an appointment with friends, or a date…

“Sorry, I’m late.”

Does this sound like you? Much important work has looked at why people are chronically late. The truth is that there are many reasons why people just can’t get somewhere on time. But there seems to be one common thread running through the behavior of chronically late individuals that is probably the most shared reason for them being perpetually tardy, and yet it is consistently overlooked.

You are late because you don’t want to be early.

For the punctually challenged, this very basic motivation drives behavior whether consciously or unconsciously.

We are quite familiar with the group out there who is always on time because they hate being late. I fall into this category. In fact, I’m paranoid of being tardy. I get to places an embarrassingly amount of time early, which requires me to park my car around the corner and wait surreptitiously just so others don’t notice the real time I arrived. (Sometimes I think that if I was a ninja, I would always be getting to the locations dreadfully early, yet I would be comforted in the fact that since I am a ninja no one can tell if I am here.)

Because people, like me, in this first group hate to be tardy, we are always on time. This team is definitely pro-early. Being on time is synonymous with being early.

But, there is another group out there. Just as the first type hates to be late, this second group hates to be early. These anti-early birds really want to be punctual. They just prefer to be right on time.

Wanting to avoid being early is a strong motivation for why many people are chronically late.

When you ask someone why they are perpetually late, they will often inform you that the typical or assumed reasons do not necessarily explain the underlying issue of their bad habit. Even when they try to be organized, consider the time of others, or set an alarm, they still tend to be late.

Additionally, they are usually behind by the same amount of time: five, ten, or fifteen minutes – just late enough where it isn’t detrimental to their event but late enough to be annoying to those around them. Though desperately wanting to break the habit, the conflicting motivation to not be late or early poses a real problem. It is hard to reconcile these two competing ideals.

So why does this second group hate to be early?

Well, there are various reasons. Some of the most common include:

Because it’s inefficient. Being early requires having to sit around with nothing to do. The waiting time is just short enough where you can’t get into any other project because as soon as you do, the time is up.

Many hate the uneasiness of being early. They feel awkward and uncomfortable waiting. They might even feel as if others are watching and judging them, whether this being true or not. Arriving a few minutes early makes you feel proud and confident, but arriving too early can make you feel foolish. You fear others might be thinking that you have no life besides this one event. You don’t want people to think that your time isn’t valuable.

Take the example of going on a date. If you get there a little early that looks great, but if you get there too early, all of a sudden, you’re worried you might come across as desperate. You’re so concerned about how being early makes you look that when your date actually arrives and asks you, “have you been waiting long?”…what do you do? You lie and say, “Oh, not long, maybe 5 or 10 minutes.”

There is also an opportunity cost associated with getting somewhere early. Just as someone else’s time is valuable and you want to respect it to be punctual, so too your time is valuable and a lot of people would rather be using it productively than waiting around inefficiently.

Finally, sometimes you do not want to be early to be polite. In many cases, you don’t want to disturb someone by getting there too soon (like a friend’s dinner party), so you would rather get there a little late.

While many individuals see being early as a virtue, there are also many who don’t. Earliness isn’t valued to them. Earliness is a waste of time.

2002 article in USA Today discussed the cost of tardiness for CEOs. One hypothetical example mentioned in the article stated that if Sanford Weill, Citigroup CEO at the time, arrives 15 minutes late to a meeting where he is going to meet his four best-paid lieutenants, it costs the company $4,250, the price of the four employees’ time.” And that was in 2002, just think what it costs today.

Yet, the same argument can be applied to the cost of being early. If those four well-paid employees arrive 15 minutes before Weill arrives to the meeting, that still costs the company $4,250 in wasted time. The issue being that time is money in both scenarios.

Even late-comers know that it is impossible to get anywhere right on time each and every time. Since we cannot control external circumstances (like traffic, emergencies, other people, etc.), the only way to be prompt is to get to places a few minutes beforehand.

But we are still left with the pesky problem of motivation. How can an anti-early bird just bite the bullet and risk being early in order to be on time?

Often when you do get to a place early, there is no inherent reward in that. You think “(Bleep), I’m here too early. Next time I will give myself less time to get here.”

The solution to actually fixing the habit, then, is not to think about ways to be on time but rather to think about how to make being early valuable.

That same USA Today article mentions how Dell Computer CEO Michael Dell gets to meetings a little beforehand and how he makes the best use of that time. As he says in the article, “I try to get to meetings a bit early so I can see what the mood of the team is and have an opportunity to interact informally before we get down to serious business.”

Reframing that early time as something valuable makes you feel like your time is being used constructively (or that it’s worth it), for your own or for someone else’s benefit.

So, if you are trying to motivate someone else to stop being chronically late, remember, just because the sensible Benjamin Franklin espoused the virtues of being early and told us, “Early to bed, early to rise…” there are also those who agree with the wise Franklin D. Roosevelt’s rationale: “I think we consider too much the good luck of the early bird and not enough the bad luck of the early worm.”

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08 October 2014 ~ 0 Comments

The Secret Benefits of a Curious Mind

curious woman

It’s no surprise that when we are curious about something, it makes it easier to learn. But cutting-edge research published in the academic journal Neuron provides startling evidence for how a curious state of mind improves learning and memory for things we are not even interested in.

Albert Einstein said, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”

While Einstein probably suffered from modesty in addition to curiosity, it is interesting to note that he attributes his intelligence and success to having a curious mind.

A recent study in the field of cognitive neuroscience from the University of California, Davis provides surprising insights into the interesting link between curiosity, learning, and memory.

For the study, participants were given a series of trivia questions. The researchers asked the participants to rate their level of curiosity to learn the answers for each question. They were then presented with the trivia. After each question, there was a 14-second delay before the answer was given. During that time, the researchers flashed a picture of a neutral, unrelated face.

Once the trivia session was complete, the participants were given a surprise memory recognition test based on the faces the participants saw during the trivia. Additionally, during the study, researchers scanned the participants’ brain activity with an FMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging).

Curiosity Didn’t Kill the Cat. It Improved His Memory

The study reveals several interesting findings of what happens to the brain when it is piqued with curiosity.

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We already know that when we are curious about a topic, it is easier to learn. And, as expected, the study proves that when participants were highly curious to find the answer to the trivia question, they were better at learning that information. But what the researchers really cared about was to see how the participants did on the face recognition test when they were highly curious.

This is the interesting bit. The researchers found that when participants’ curiosity was aroused by wanting to know a certain trivia question, they were better at learning entirely unrelated information, which was the face recognition, even though they were not curious about that information. In both the immediate and the one-day-delayed memory tests, the participants showed improved memory for the unrelated material they encountered during states of high curiosity.

“Curiosity may put the brain in a state that allows it to learn and retain any kind of information, like a vortex that sucks in what you are motivated to learn, and also everything around it,” says Dr. Matthias Gruber, lead author of the study.

How Intrinsic Motivation Affects Learning

So how does this work? The FMRI data reveals the underlying mechanisms that are activated when curiosity is engaged. The study provides insight into the link between curiosity and how intrinsic motivation affects memory.

Curiosity is a form of intrinsic motivation. When you are curious to learn a topic you are motivated to learn for its own sake. Surprisingly, little is known about the mechanisms behind how intrinsic motivational states affect learning. This is one of the reasons why this recent study is so important. It gives us insight into what happens in our brain when we become curious.

The investigators found that when curiosity is stimulated, there is increased activity in the reward center of the brain. This is very interesting considering that normally extrinsic motivation is thought of as recruiting the brain’s reward circuits. Extrinsic motivation is engaging in a behavior because your motivation is an external reward. Yet the research revealed an interesting neural connection between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

“Intrinsic motivation actually recruits the very same brain areas that are heavily involved in tangible, extrinsic motivation,” Dr. Gruber explains.

Additionally, researchers found an interesting link between curiosity and activity in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is not the part of your brain that looks like a hippo. Actually, it is the part of your brain that looks like a seahorse, from the Greek hippos for “horse,” and kampos for “sea monster.” The hippocampus is the area of the brain that is important for forming new memories.

Hippocampus

The scientists found that there was increased activity in the hippocampus during the curiosity motivated learning. They also found that when curiosity learning was engaged there was increased interactions between the hippocampus and the reward circuit.

“Curiosity recruits the reward system,” explains Dr. Charan Ranganath, principal investigator of the study “and interactions between the reward system and the hippocampus seem to put the brain in a state in which you are more likely to learn and retain information, even if that information is not of particular interest or importance.”

The findings demonstrate just how powerful a curious state of mind can be for learning information that you do not find interesting.

This is particularly important for learning how to help individuals retain boring information either in the classroom or workplace. To facilitate learning, often we try to make the material interesting. This is a fine strategy if the material can be made interesting. Remember the pictures of neutral faces were pretty boring content.

But the important implications of this study is that this is not the only way. The findings show that another strategy you have at your disposal is to take less interesting material and attach it to interesting content to reap the carry over effects of curiosity. This strategy focuses less on making the material interesting and more on creating an environment of curiosity into which the material can be inserted.

In this way, the secret to making boring work memorable is to harness the students’ and workers’ curiosity about something they are already motivated to learn.

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13 August 2014 ~ 0 Comments

3 Steps for Changing Any Bad Habit or Forming Any Good One

good-habits-bad-habitsDo you have a bad habit that you have been desperately trying to change for quite some time? Maybe it is quitting smoking or ending your love affair with donuts. Or maybe you are trying to cultivate a good habit such as going for daily runs or calling your mom more?

Whatever the case, you know it isn’t from a lack of trying.

We Are Semi Creatures of Habit

Our habits run deep. Very deep in fact. In our daily lives, habits make up 40% of our daily activities. To revise the popular saying, we are semi creatures of habit.

Why are habits so hard to change and what can we really do about it?

In a session entitled “Habits in Everyday Life: How to Form Good Habits and Change Bad Ones” presented at the American Psychological Association’s 122nd Annual Convention, Wendy Wood, psychology professor at the University of Southern California, provided not just hope for change but strategic steps for getting a handle on our habits.

In her presentation, she begins by explaining the underlying mechanics of habits.

Habits are formed through a specific type of learning process called associative learning. Associative learning is just like its title suggests in that we learn to form connections between different activities. These connections then becomes patterns of behaviors.

“We repeat what works, and when actions are repeated in a stable context, we form associations between cues and response,” Wood explained during her session.

Intentional Mind vs. Habitual Mind

Here is one of the most important things to know about associative learning and habits: it is largely unintentional. As Wood explains, we have two minds at work: the intentional mind and the habitual mind. The first mind is aware and makes conscious decisions while the latter operates almost completely outside of awareness.

Why is our poor little habitual mind so clueless? This is because habits are generated by cues. They work so well that once the cue is engaged the habit takes over. Wood explains that as our habits take over, neural activity shifts from working memory to cue-response association—basically shifting from the intentional mind to the habitual mind.

In addition to our habitual mind being clueless about why it is doing what it is doing, it is also very stubborn to change. If you think of the habitual mind as your lovable, curmudgeonly grandpa, you basically get the idea.

Because we have two different minds at play we cannot assume that engaging the intentional will have any control over the habitual. This is a typical problem when trying to change any habit or form a new one. We educate ourselves on what we need to do and we tell our intentional mind to start making it happen. We have the motivation but fail to deliver. Why?

If the habitual mind is guided by cues (not by conscious decisions as is the intentional mind) it must be fixed by cues. This is sounding a bit like out of The Lord of the Ringsthe habit must be destroyed in the same fires as which it was forged.

So what does it mean exactly to destroy the habit in the same way as it was created?

Wood provides us with three simple but powerful principles for how to tackle the habits by engaging how the habitual mind operates.

3 Principles of Habit Change and Formation

1. Derail existing habits by disrupting habit cues.

Wood describes this step as creating the window of opportunity to act on new intentions. This is done by disrupting the way you normally do things. For example, if your goal is to control distracted over-eating, try eating with your non-dominant hand or rearrange your fridge and pantry to make the unhealthy options harder to reach. Wood also recommends taking advantage of lifestyle changes such as a new job or moving to a new city. These are perfect opportunities to dissolve all of those old cues connected to old habits.

2. Repetition is key. Did I mention that repetition is key?

Remember that the habitual brain is very slow to change. It is slow to change because it has been taking a lot of time forming that associative memory and making those cues and responses automatic. So in the same way that it took time to learn those habits, you need to take the same time to form new habits. That is done through repetition. How much repetition? Wood states that the research suggests that a new habit takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days to make an action effortless and automatic. So be patient with your habitual mind.

3. Create new context cues to trigger new habits.

Wood explains that in order to build new habits, you need strong stable cues. Remember habits don’t exist independently, they are connected to previous actions. So if you want to floss more, connect it to a strong cue like brushing your teeth. Plan to floss either just before or directly after brushing your teeth. Brushing your teeth becomes the trigger that engages the behavior of flossing. Over time this pattern of brushing and flossing will become automated.

To summarize, remember that a habit consists of cues and responses repeated over and over. To attack the habit you have to disrupt the old cues, form new ones, and then it becomes a matter of “Wash. Rinse. Repeat.” In this way, you build that association and make the pattern automatic and soon unconscious.

Source: Wood, Wendy. “‪Habits in Everyday Life: How to Form Good Habits and Change Bad Ones” Thursday, August 7, 11-11:50 am ET. American Psychological Association’s 122nd Annual Convention. Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Pl., NW, Washington, D.C.

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19 June 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Losing Weight May Be Harder for Night Owls

woman-sleeping-in-bed

Are you a night owl and wondering how to lose weight? If so, one important step to help you meet your goals is to say goodnight to going to bed late. A new study has found that night owls are more sedentary and find it difficult to stick to exercise schedules.

With the hectic day-to-day of work, home life, and those unexpected last minute problems, just getting to bed at a decent hour can prove problematic. Well, it turns out that going to bed late on a regular basis can severely impact your plans for losing weight and exercising.

Past research has shown a connection between later sleep timing and poorer health behaviors, yet few studies have focused on the relationship between sleep timing and exercise. Researchers from the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois decided to investigate this connection between sleep timing and physical activity.

The research abstract was published in the journal Sleep and the research findings were presented at the Associated Professional Sleep Societies’ annual meeting, SLEEP 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

For the study researchers recruited 123 healthy adults with daily sleep durations of at least six and a half hours. For seven days researchers monitored the participants’ sleeping patterns, sleep duration, and physical activity. The participants recorded their exercise schedules in journals as well as filled out physical activity questionnaires to monitor their attitudes to exercise.

Night owls averaged sleep start times of about 1:00 AM and end times of about 8:00 AM.

The study found that later sleep time was associated with a number of poorer physical activity behaviors.

First, sleep timing was linked to more minutes sedentary.

“Waking up late and being an evening person were related to more time spent sitting, particularly on weekends, and with difficulty making time to exercise” said chief investigator Kelly Glazer Baron, PhD as reported by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). Baron is the associate professor of neurology and director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern.

Second, the findings indicated that sleep timing was linked to greater perceived challenges for engaging with exercise. The study found that night owls had lower physical self-efficacy and greater barriers to exercise than others.

Night owls reported…

  • More trouble sticking to exercise schedules
  • Difficulty making time for exercise
  • Greater feelings of discouragement by others

“This was a highly active sample averaging 83 minutes of vigorous activity per week,” said Baron. “Even among those who were able to exercise, waking up late…and being an evening person made it perceived as more difficult.”

Considering that these participants were healthy individuals engaged in vigorous activity, the study shows how important sleep is for individuals wanting to lose weight, especially for less active adults who already have difficulty exercising.

So when designing your exercise routine don’t forget to consider your sleep schedule as well. Just remember…

Earlier to bed, earlier to your weight loss!

 

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03 June 2014 ~ 0 Comments

How to Live to Be 110: Supercentenarians’ Secrets of Longevity

In the Andes Mountains of Peru, living in extreme poverty, Filomena Taipe Mendoza, 116 years old, is in the running to become the world’s oldest living person.

If her claim proves to be true, it would make her three months older than Misao Okawa of Japan, who currently holds the record for the oldest living person according to Guinness World Records and the Gerontology Research Group.

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Image Source: AFP
Mrs. Mendoza lives in the tiny village of Huancavelica, one of the poorest cities in Peru. Her age was reportedly discovered when she left her village to pick up a new type of retirement check for seniors living in poverty. BBC News reports that Peru’s National Identity Register claims that her ID card indicates that she was born on December 20, 1897.

“I am not of the past century, young man, but the other one… I am very old,” she told an official accompanying her to cash her first check according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Eat From the Garden, Don’t Eat Processed Food

What is Filomena Taipe Mendoza’s secret to such a long life? According to BBC News, she attributes it to the following:

  • Eating a natural diet of potatoes, goat meat, sheep’s milk, goat cheese and beans
  • Cooking only items she grows from her own garden
  • Never eating processed foods

While we wait for officials from Guinness World Records and the Gerontology Research Group to verify Mrs. Mendoza’s claim, we can take this opportunity to spotlight the rare group of individuals known as supercentenarians in order to learn their secrets for living long and healthy lives.

Supercentenarians are the elite group of people who have reached the 110-year milestone. According to the Gerontology Research Group (GRG), there are 74 verified living supercentenarians in the world and 71 of them are female. The GRG reports that there are probably hundreds more supercentenarians that have yet to be verified.


Lots of Sushi and Lots of Sleep

Leading the pack is Misao Okawa. According to Guinness World Records, she is the current verified oldest living person at 116 years and 64 days. She was born on March 5, 1898, at a time when Queen Victoria was still on the throne.

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Image Source: Reuters
She resides in Osaka with her two daughters, one son, four grandchildren, and six great grandchildren.

So what is Misao Okawa’s secret to longevity? Guinness World Records reports that she attributes it to the following diet and lifestyle:

  • Three large meals a day
  • Eight hours of sleep a night
  • Lots of sushi

Misao Okawa’s advice is rather simple. “Eat and sleep and you will live a long time,” she said in an interview to The Telegraph, “You have to learn to relax.”

In addition to her regimen of sleep and sushi, Mrs. Okawa maintains a healthy lifestyle of physical activity. The Telegraph recounts one remarkable story of her strength of body and character. When she was 102, she fell and broke her leg. After returning to the nursing home from the hospital, she was seen doing leg squats to help herself recover.

Mrs. Okawa is a prime example of Japan’s healthy aging citizens. According to theGRG, Japan boasts the highest population of verified supercentenarians in the world.

In John Robbin’s book Healthy at 100, he talks about the specific group of centenarians in Okinawa, Japan, the place where more people live to 100 than anywhere else in the world. In fact, fifteen percent of the world’s documented supercentenarians live in Okinawa. In his book Robbins describes the Okinawan Centenarian Study, which researched human longevity from a group of over 900 centenarians.

The study found that, first, genetics was an important factor for longevity. In addition to genetics, cultural habits such as hara hachi bu (eating only until being 80 percent full) and the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle by keeping physically active were key reasons that Okinawans retained remarkable health.

While Misao Okawa is the oldest living person, she does not hold the record for being the oldest person ever recorded. That title goes to France’s Jeanne Calment according to Guinness World Records. Mrs. Calment died on August 4, 1997 at the impressive age of 122.


Eat Two Pounds of Chocolate and Take Up Fencing

Jeanne Calment was born in February 21, 1875, in Arles, France. Her date of birth falls one year before Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone.

In her New York Times obituary, it recounts how in her preteens she met Vincent Van Gogh, describing him later as ”very ugly, ungracious, impolite, sick — I forgive him, they called him loco.”

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Mrs. Calment at age 22 in 1897 and at age 122 in 1997
Her secret to staying young as reported in her obituary was a most unconventional list of diet and lifestyle habits:

  • Drinking Port wine
  • Eating two pounds of chocolate per week
  • Treating her skin with olive oil
  • Taking up fencing at 85
  • Riding her bike until she was 100
  • Smoking until she was 117

Yet despite her smoking and addiction to chocolate, her long life continued to surpass expectations. As recounted in her obituary, to one man’s financial disappointment her age not only surpassed his expectations but also his own lifespan.

When Mrs. Calment was 90, lawyer André-Francois Raffray, bought the apartment in which Mrs. Calment had lived. However, there was one provision. He would have to pay her 2,500 francs a month (the equivalent of $400 today) until she died and then the apartment would belong to him. He agreed.

Year after year after year Mr. Raffray paid the monthly allowance, and Mrs. Calment went right on living. At the age of 77, Mr. Raffray died and his widow continued to pay her. When Mrs. Calment died 32 years later, the total payment came to $180,000 — more than double the original price of the apartment.

Although Mrs. Calment, being the wife of a well-to-do shop owner, never had to work, this did not mean that her life was without hardships. Her husband died in 1942 after consuming a dessert of spoiled preserved cherries. Their daughter, Yvonne, had only one son, Frédéric Billot, whom Mrs. Calment raised after Yvonne died of pneumonia at age 36. In 1960, Frédéric Billot died, also at age 36, without children in an automobile accident.

A Long Life Is One of Persistence, Not Just Attitude

Living with and through tragedies is a theme found also in Filomena Taipe Mendoza’s life in Peru. “I had a very hard life, I was a very young widow with nine dependent children and I worked hard to raise them. Only three of them are alive,” she said to Peru’s Ministry of Development as reported in Agence France-Presse.

In their book The Longevity Project, the authors Drs. Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin consider what role tragedy and having a worry-free life plays in living longer. They discuss the findings of an eight-decade study of 1,528 participants that was begun by Dr. Lewis Terman in California in 1921.

In reviewing the factors that have an effect on predictions of living longer, the authors state: “It was not those who took life easy, played it safe, or avoided stress who lived the longest.” They explain that instead those who live longer had “an often-complex pattern of persistence, prudence, hard work, and close involvement with friends and communities.” The authors explain that because of their perseverance they “found their way back to these healthy paths each time they were pushed off the road.”

If Filomena Taipe Mendoza’s claim is verified, then as the oldest living person, her life really does exemplify this fact.

Living in extreme poverty with her new pension check she will now receive about 250nuevo soles (about $90) per month and obtain free medical care.

According to Agence France-Presse, when asked if there was anything she wished for, she replied: “I wish I still had teeth.”

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22 August 2011 ~ 0 Comments

The Spoiler Paradox: How Knowing A Spoiler Makes A Story Better Not Worse

Story telling is a universal human trait, spanning cultures, civilizations, and time.  We love a good story, and since we have been telling stories for thousands of years, we know what makes for a good story and exciting experience.

Or do we?

One of our favorite parts of a good story is the ending, and we go through great lengths just to avoid overhearing the ending of a movie we haven’t seen or a book we haven’t read, and when we unfortunately do overhear the end we feel that our experience is now spoiled. After all that’s why they call them “spoilers”.

But as it turns out, poor little spoilers have been given a bad rap this whole time. The latest research published in the journal Psychological Science shows that knowing the ending of a story before you read it doesn’t hurt the experience of the story. It actually makes you enjoy the story more. This is the “Spoiler Paradox”.

Researchers Nicholas Christenfeld and Jonathan Leavitt from the University of California, San Diego’s psychology department conducted three experiments with twelve short stories (from authors such as John Updike, Agatha Christie, and Anton Chekhov). The stories included ironic-twists, mysteries, and evocative literary stories. In two of the conditions they gave away the endings of the stories. One of those conditions gave away the ending with the spoiler as independent text preceding the story, and in the second condition the spoiler was incorporated as an opening paragraph for the story. The last condition had no spoiler.

The findings of the study indicated that in each type of story (ironic-twist, mystery, and evocative story), the participants preferred the spoiled versions over the unspoiled ones, and they preferred the stories even more when the spoiler was included as introductory text separate from the story.

This finding completely topples over our conventional wisdom of stories and raises one big question:

WHY?

In 1944, Fritz Heider and Mary-Ann Simmel from Smith College conducted an elegantly simple yet powerful study. The researchers showed participants an animation of two triangles and a circle moving around a square. You can see the animation for yourself here.

When watching the demonstration it is hard not to add your own dialogue to explain what is going on in the scene. The study found that most participants described the circle and blue triangle as being “in love” with the “big-bad” grey triangle “trying to get in the way”. The participants were using narratives to describe the actions and described the scene as if the objects had intentions and motivations.

This study demonstrates the human instinct for storytelling, which implies that storytelling fulfills or facilitates a basic human function. Humans are social animals and stories are an important tool to help us understand human behavior and to communicate our understanding to others.

This has to do with what psychologists call “theory of mind”. Having a theory of mind means that we have the ability to attribute thoughts, desires, motivations, and intentions of others, and we use this to predict and explain actions and behaviors of others. Because we have the ability to attribute intention to others and understand how that intention can cause behavior, stories are important because they allow us to communicate this cause and effect relationship. This is important to remember because this means that a story is good if it fulfills its function: effectively communicating information to others.

This is why a “spoiled” story (where we know the ending beforehand) is more engaging than stories that leave us hanging. Spoiled stories are easier to follow and understand than stories where the ending is unknown. In their study, the authors describe how “suspense regarding the outcome may not be critical, and could even impair pleasure by distracting attention from relevant details and aesthetic attributes”.

You have probably witnessed how a good story is one that can be repeated over and over again with the same engagement. A story where the ending is known forehand makes for a good story because it can be processed with ease, facilitating communication, and also ensuring the likelihood that it can be repeated.

Think of stories that have stood the test of time, stories such as Oedipus to the Trojan Horse. Even though the ending is well known (e.g. Oedipus will kill his father and marry his mother; the Greeks will hide in a giant hollowed out wooden horse in order to gain access into the walled city of Troy), this does not decrease the engagement of listening to the story. “So it could be,” said Leavitt, co-author of the study, “that once you know how it turns out, it’s cognitively easier – you’re more comfortable processing the information – and can focus on a deeper understanding of the story.”

This is important since we use stories to communicate complex ideas, from religious beliefs to societal values. Take the story of Job found in the Old Testament. The Israelites used this story to understand why a good pious man could still suffer and experience misfortune. Or take the childhood story of the “Boy Who Cried Wolf”. This story teaches us the moral lesson that if you tell fibs—especially when communicating important information—no one will believe you when you are telling the truth.

We transmit these complex ideologies through stories because they can be processed and retained with greater ease than through straight text. In fact research has shown that not only do we respond more positively to information when it is in narrative form than simple text (Escalas, 2007), but information labeled as “fact” versus “fiction” increases critical analysis (Green et al, 2006). This suggests that we are more receptive to information in narrative form.

As we can see, stories are an effective way to communicate sophisticated bodies of knowledge. Think about this: with a word you understand one term or concept, but with a story you can communicate an entire causal sequence of events, understand human intentions, moral rules, philosophical beliefs, and societal conventions.

So this means that a spoiler is not really a spoiler at all. It takes a complex story and simplifies it, allowing you to process it easier. The ability to process it easier allows you to be more engaged in the story and understand it to a deeper level. And think, just maybe, if that “spoiled” story is good enough, it can last for thousands of years exposing it to future generations of readers.

***

Adoree Durayappah, M.A.P.P., M.B.A., is a writer and psychologist with an addition to academia. Learn more at AdoreeDurayappah.com.

References:

Escalas, Jennifer Edson (2007), “Narrative versus Analytical Self-Referencing and Persuasion,” Journal of Consumer Research, v. 34, n. 4 (March), pp. 421-429.

Green, M.C., Garst, J., Brock, T.C., & Chung, S. (2006). Fact versus fiction labeling: Persuasion parity despite heightened scrutiny of fact.  Media Psychology 8(3), 267-285.

Jonathan D. Leavitt and Nicholas J. S. Christenfeld (2011) ‘Story Spoilers Don’t Spoil Stories’, Psychological Science.

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