A new study from Northwestern University compared personality types used frequently in consumer research to self-improvement goal-setting strategies. People are motivated by one of two fundamental needs: we are either “promotion-focused,” seeking products that will help us achieve hopes and aspirations, or we are “prevention-focused,” seeking items that help satisfy a need for safety and security. According to the research, people are better able to exercise self-control when they choose goal-pursuit strategies that “fit” with their promotion or prevention focus.
“This research has important implications for consumer welfare,” explain Jiewen Hong and Angela Y. Lee (both of Northwestern) in the February issue of the Journal of Consumer Research. “While self-help remedies are saturating the market, resisting temptations remains a strenuous process and a constant struggle for many people. The data reported in this research offer an important step toward understanding self-control and highlight the benefits of adopting the right goal pursuit strategies.”
“[We] find that when people adopt goal pursuit strategies that fit with their promotion or prevention focus, they have better self-control. In contrast, their self-control is weakened when they adopt goal pursuit strategies that conflict with their focus,” the researchers explain.
They conclude: “Self-control is not just about doing the right things, but also about doing things the right way.”
Jiewen Hong and Angela Y. Lee, “Be Fit and Be Strong: Mastering Self-Regulation through Regulatory Fit.” Journal of Consumer Research: February 2008.
Lying requires smarts and creativity. Even a really good liar, however, can’t beat the mental strain put on his/her brain when lying. On the other hand, telling the truth is easy, requiring far less brain power.
Eric Barker wrote a brilliant piece in The Week online magazine in which he pointed out the fallacy in trying to detect lies by monitoring stress response. What we should be looking for instead are signs of “cognitive load” – brain overload. As Robert Trivers states in his book, it takes quite a bit of brain power to lie:
You must suppress the truth and construct a falsehood that is plausible on its face and does not contradict anything known by the listener, nor likely to be known. You must tell it in a convincing way and you must remember the story. This usually takes time and concentration, both of which may give off secondary cues and reduce performance on simultaneous tasks. [The Folly of Fools: The Logic of Deceit and Self-Deception in Human Life]
Who is good at lying? Not dumb people! According to Mr. Baker again:
A group of researchers has, for the first time, demonstrated a real hypnotic state in a human subject. Hypnosis has for generations been considered fringe because the “hypnotic state” could not be objectified.
That has now changed. Real objective testing has demonstrated that in some subjects, an altered brain state exists that can be called hypnosis and can be induced via technique. Further, that altered state can be measured. No more guessing as to whether a subject is “under” or is faking – this team of researchers conclusively resolved that conflict. There IS a hypnotic state; it can be measured; and it can be induced by a qualified hypnotist.
Whenever someone has felt a cold or the blues around our house, my wife’s first instruction to them is, “Go take a nice hot shower.” I’ve felt amused and have sometimes chuckled over her patent response to illness. How can the same “cure” be applied to so many physical and emotional conditions?
My own skepticism aside, her “cure” usually works a wonder.
And it seems her instructions have been borne out by scientific evidence. Researchers from the University of Michigan have “discovered” what my wife has known for years – that washing can influence mental health.