The Science of Goal Achievement (anyone can SET goals) is tallying up more results. You’ll recall from The last library installment of The Science of Influence, that we found that if you want people to actually change their behavior you must get them to see themselves achieving a goal or result, not just seeing that someone else can do it, or stepping into their shoes.
That was a surprise.
The “Third Person” Perspective
Now there is more. One of my favorite researchers, Thomas Gilovich, has found some groundbreaking research about what perspective to see yourself from if you want to cause change in your behavior, or that of others.
The research is useful not only in influencing others, but making the process of changing yourself more likely.
Trying to lose weight, be less nervous when speaking publicly or improve in some other way? One strategy that can help is to switch your point of view from the first-person to a third-person perspective when reviewing your progress, according to a series of studies conducted at Cornell University.
“We have found that perspective can influence your interpretation of past events. In a situation in which change is likely, we find that observing yourself as a third person — looking at yourself from an outside observer’s perspective — can help accentuate the changes you’ve made more than using a first-person perspective,” says Thomas Gilovich, professor of psychology at Cornell.
When people perceive change, they get some satisfaction from their efforts, which, in turn, can give them more motivation to keep on working toward a personal goal, he says.
Gilovich and former graduate students Lisa K. Libby, Cornell Ph.D. ’03 and an assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University, and Richard Eibach, Cornell Ph.D. ’03 and an assistant professor of psychology at Yale University, conducted a series of studies to examine the effects of memory perspective on perceiving personal change. Their work is published in a recent issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Vol. 88, No. 1, 2005).
The social psychologists asked participants to picture a particular event from their lives either from a first-person or third-person perspective. The volunteers then evaluated how much they thought they had changed since the event had occurred.
For example, in one study 38 college students who had been in psychotherapy were asked either to recall their first appointment through their own eyes (first person) or “from an observer’s visual perspective” (third person). Those who recalled their appointment from a third-person perspective reported that they had made significantly more progress in treatment than did those who took a first-person perspective.
What else did researchers uncover?
The researchers also found that memory perspective can affect behavior.
They recruited college students who said they had been socially awkward in high school and asked them to visualize an occasion of their social awkwardness either from a first- or third-person perspective. Not only were those who recalled their awkwardness from a third-person perspective more likely to say they had changed, but they also were more likely to be more socially adept — initiating conversations, for example — just after the experiment when they did not know they were being observed.
“When participants recalled past awkwardness from a third-person perspective, they felt they had changed and were now more socially skilled,” said Libby, the first author of the study. “That led them to behave more sociably and appear more socially skilled to the research assistant.”
Gilovich points out, however, that a third-person perspective accentuates perceived changes when people seeking self-improvement are focused on differences between their present and past selves. But when the volunteers were asked to focus on similarities from the past by visualizing a past event that was positive, such as something they were proud of, the third-person perspective tended to promote perceptions of continuity between the present self and a positive past self.
“In other words, recalling memories from a third-person perspective produces judgments of greater self-change when people are inclined to look for evidence of change, but lesser self-change when they are inclined to look for similarities from the past or evidence of continuity,” concludes Gilovich.
The research suggests that the saying, “It depends on how you look at it,” has literal truth when it comes to assessing personal change.
Where can you find more influence research like this? Kevin Hogan synthesizes all the latest persuasion research for you in….
by Kevin Hogan
“Wow! The Science of Influence is the best information I have ever come across. I went to church with my mother this morning and instead of focusing on the sermon, I was thinking of ways the minister could be more effective in his PRESENTATION. By just taking the flock into the future, and appealing to the group mentality he might have gotten one yes, he did not get any. The fear of not being in the flock for eternity may have swayed a few heads, as well. The applications are endless. Lookout, because once I have absorbed this information thoroughly, there are no limits on my ability to influence. This information is so powerful, a license should be required to use it. Amazing. Thanks.” Steve Hutcherson, St. Charles, MO
- Universal Principles of Influence in Business and Relationships
- The Omega Strategy
- Mastering Omega Strategies
- Framing Techniques and Strategies
- The Keys That Unlock the Doors to Their Mind
- The Laws of Influence: Applications
- Mastering the Laws of Influence
- The Guarded Secrets- Confusion, Amendment, The Dominant Value and Strategic Framing
- Mastering the First 30 Seconds / Making Incredible First Impressions
- Proven Strategies and Techniques that Get to Yes!
- Metaphors and Emotions that Successfully Change Behavior
- Utilizing the Brain’s Perception and Projection to Change People
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- Discover which of the desire to gain or the fear of loss is TRULY the far greater motivatorand how to harness that power in your persuasive messages.
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- How to specifically use Hypnotic Confusion in influential messages.
- The One Question that someone MUST say “Yes” to every time!
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- How do you create metaphors…based upon the person/audience you are speaking to?
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