Posted on 



Curious Psychology #2: Positive (and negative) thinking


Second in my occasional series of research studies that have "kept the quirky flag flying" (as picked by Richard Wiseman, Psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire) is this insight from two studies which suggest that the power of the sub-conscious over the conscious may be greater than we think.

In the first, two dutch psychologists at the University of Nijmegen asked two groups of people to conduct a simple mental task. One group’s task involved imagining the mindset of a university professor, the other a football hooligan. Both groups were then set some general knowledge questions. The professor group got 60 per cent right, the hooligan group got only 46 per cent.

In the second study, John Bargh at New York University asked a group of volunteers to do a series of tasks which incorporated words associated with old age (like "wrinkle" and "grey"). A second group did similar tasks but without such words. The researchers then told the participants that the experiment was over, but then secretly timed how long it took them to walk down a long corridor on the way out. Sure enough, those with old age on their mind took significantly longer.

All of which proves (I think) that a relatively small amount of positive thinking and preparation can have a profound effect on your performance. Self-help guru anyone?

Richard has just released a new book full of this type of stuff. Image courtesy

Leave a Reply