To bolster a new year's resolution - ask, don't tell

Posted on December 29, 2015

Photo source: Flickr

“Will you exercise this year?” That simple question can be a game-changing technique for people who want to influence their own or others’ behavior, according to a recent study spanning 40 years of research.

The research is the first comprehensive look at more than 100 studies examining the ‘question-behavior effect,’ a phenomenon in which asking people about performing a certain behavior influences whether they do it in the future. The effect has been shown to last more than six months after questioning.

Why questions can influence behavior.
The basic idea is that when people are asked ‘Will you recycle?’ it causes a psychological response that can influence their behavior when they get a chance to recycle. The question reminds them that recycling is good for the environment but may also make them feel uncomfortable if they are not recycling. Thus, they become motivated to recycle to alleviate their feelings of discomfort.

Overall, the researchers’ findings suggest questioning is a relatively simple yet effective technique to produce consistent, significant changes across a wide domain of behaviors. The technique can sway people toward cheating less in college, exercising more, recycling, or reducing gender stereotyping.

Tips for New Year’s resolution makers and others
The researchers suggest the key to influencing someone’s behavior is to ask a question rather than make a statement. For example, parents asking their high school-age children, ‘Will you drink and drive?’ should be more effective than when they say, ‘Don’t drink and drive.’

For people making New Year’s resolutions, a question like, ‘Will I exercise — yes or no?’ may be more effective than declaring, ‘I will exercise.’

This article was edited in content for length. Follow the link below to read it in full.


Category(s):Self-Care / Self Compassion

Source material from PsyPost


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