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 Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
17.03.2017 | University of Maryland

nachricht Diabetes Drug May Improve Bone Fat-induced Defects of Fracture Healing
17.03.2017 | Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke

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: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>