Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Powerful Pitfalls of Positive Thinking

Canadian researchers have discovered that a lot of the hype about positive thinking is just that - hype - and can even backfire for some people. Bad news for the multi-billion dollar "self help" publishing business. From BBC News

The researchers, from the University of Waterloo and the University of New Brunswick, asked people with high and low self-esteem to say "I am a lovable person."

They then measured the participants' moods and their feelings about themselves.

In the low self-esteem group, those who repeated the mantra felt worse afterwards compared with others who did not.

However people with high self-esteem felt better after repeating the positive self-statement - but only slightly.

The psychologists then asked the study participants to list negative and positive thoughts about themselves.

They found that, paradoxically, those with low self-esteem were in a better mood when they were allowed to have negative thoughts than when they were asked to focus exclusively on affirmative thoughts.

In other words, if you don't need it, self-help techniques are wonderful. If your self-esteem is in the toilet, not so much.

1 comment:

Oemissions said...

People often use this positive affirmation stuff and new age thought to opt out of political involvement.
Rather than get out and truly support a very good candidate, they prefer to believe that by focusing on all sorts of healing thoughts and gizmos they will make the world better.
On Saltspring, the largest percentage of books lifted from the library have to do with astrology and "you create your own reality "sort of thing.