A Positive Thought Can Result In Improved Performance
Do motivational techniques really help to improve performance? That was the question that researchers attempted to answer in a new experiment. It appears that telling yourself I can do better can really make you do better.
The new study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology examined whether one motivational method would be more effective for a specific aspect of a competitive task. Over 44,000 people took part in the study. The motivational methods that were tested included: self-talk, imagery, and if-then planning. Each of these motivational methods was applied to one of four parts of a competitive task: process, outcome, arousal-control and instruction. The task was playing an online game.
When the subjects used self-talk applied to outcome, it was, “I can beat my best score;” self-talk applied to the process involved telling themselves, “I can do better;” imagery applied to outcome involved imagining themselves playing the game and beating their best score, while imagery applied to outcome involved imaging themselves playing the game and having a quicker reaction time than the previous time they played the game.
Subjects who used self-talk performed better that the control group in all four parts of the competitive process of playing the game. The greatest improvements seen:
• Self-talk applied to outcome
• Self-talk applied to process
• Imagery applied to outcome
• Imagery applied to process
The researchers also noted that a short motivational video could help to improve performance. Subjects watched a short video before playing a game online. The motivational coach in the video was Michael Johnson, four-time Olympic gold medalist, known for advocating mental preparedness to support physical training.
The researchers found that if-then planning scored low in this study, despite being a very useful and successful tool in weight management and other life challenges. The researchers note that the study results really support the continued development of online interventions to help people manage emotions across a range of challenges, including: preparing to deliver a speech, fighting in a boxing ring, taking an exam or even travel to dangerous places.
This was a large scale study, with participants in the study divided into 12 groups with one control group. Because of the large number of test groups, compared to most studies with two or three groups plus control, the results were considered valid.