Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

See yourself as outsiders do to measure progress toward goals, study says

31.03.2005


When people feel they’ve hit a roadblock in reaching a personal goal, such as losing weight, a change in perspective may give them the help they need to move forward, a new study suggests.



The research found that picturing memories from a third-person perspective – as if looking at one’s past self in a movie – can lead people to perceive more personal change in their lives. Picturing the past in first-person, through their own eyes, doesn’t always allow people to see how they’ve changed.

Learning how to view past events with the right perspective could help anyone who is trying to make positive changes in their lives, said Lisa Libby, co-author of the study and assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University.


“When you’re looking for change in yourself, picturing your past from a third-person perspective highlights the progress you’ve made, and that can give you the strength to keep working, even if you haven’t reached your goal yet,” Libby said.

“People who are looking for change in themselves don’t sense that they’ve made as much progress when they look back in first-person, and that could be discouraging.”

Libby conducted the study with Richard Eibach from Yale University and Thomas Gilovich of Cornell University. Their results were published in a recent issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

The researchers did a series of studies in which they asked people to picture a given event in their own lives from either a first-person or third-person perspective. The participants were then asked how much they had changed since the event had occurred.

In one study, they asked 38 college students who had been in psychotherapy to recall their very first treatment appointment. About half were told to visualize that appointment “looking out at your surroundings through your own eyes” (first-person). The other half were told to visualize that first treatment “from an observer’s visual perspective” (third-person).

All the participants rated how much they had changed since their first appointment on a scale of 0 (not at all) to 10 (completely). Results showed that people who were told to picture that initial treatment from a third-person perspective saw more change in themselves (average score of 7.18) than did those who were told to take the first-person viewpoint (average score of 5.64).

The reason is that viewing the past in the third-person emphasizes the meaning of an event in the person’s life, according to Libby.

“You’re reflecting on how the event is relevant to you, what it means in your life,” she said. “So if there have been any changes since then, the changes are accentuated in your mind.

“But other studies have shown that if you remember an incident in the first-person, you tend to re-experience the event, how everything unfolded. You’re wrapped up in the emotions, so you don’t reflect on the event and the overall meaning.”

Not only can taking a third-person perspective affect how people think about changes in their lives – it can also affect their behavior.

In another study, the researchers recruited 27 college students who on a questionnaire rated themselves as socially awkward in high school. They were then asked to recall a socially awkward event from their high school years, either from a first-person or third-person perspective.

Again, students who were told to take the third-person perspective were more likely than those who were told to take a first-person viewpoint to say they had changed, and were no longer so socially awkward.

But there was another twist to this study.

Immediately after filling out the ratings, students were individually put in a room with a person whom they thought was another student participating in the experiment. But in fact, the other person was an assistant of the researchers (who did not know whether the participant had been told to use the first- or third-person in the study). The assistant turned on a concealed tape recorder to see how many times the participant attempted to start a conversation. The assistant also rated the participant on a variety of measures of sociability.

The results showed that participants who had viewed their past socially awkward moment from a third-person perspective were more likely to initiate conversation, and were rated as more sociable by the research assistant.

“When participants recalled past awkwardness from a third-person perspective, they felt they had changed and were now more socially skilled,” Libby said. “That led them to behave more sociably and appear more socially skilled to the research assistant.”

The third-person perspective doesn’t always lead to perceptions of change, she said. Another study showed that if people focused on a positive event from their past, the third-person perspective helped them see more similarities between their past and present selves than did the first-person perspective.

So the effects of the third-person perspective depend on whether people are inclined to see changes or similarities between past and present selves.

“We think these results could be useful to people who are trying to make changes in their lives,” Libby said. “Using the third-person is a good technique to see the positive changes you’ve made in your life, and that is likely to lead to greater satisfaction with your efforts. That, in turn, should make it easier to continue with your efforts to reach your goals.”

Lisa Libby | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.osu.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>