How to motivate yourself to change your behavior

Your life will change according to the way you think


We all have behaviors we want to change and desire to help others change theirs. Whether it’s our kids, spouses, or colleagues, we want to share new research on behavior change. Before that, let’s focus on a commonly used strategy. For instance, when trying to avoid snacking, most people warn themselves about the consequences. This fear-based approach is prevalent in health campaigns and policy. However, scientific evidence suggests that warnings have limited impact on behavior. When people are threatened, they often shut down or rationalize the risk, leading to a boomerang effect. In other cases, individuals avoid negative information altogether. This tendency to seek positive information and avoid negative news is evident in various aspects of life, such as finance. People tend to check their accounts more frequently when the market is doing well and avoid it when it’s down. This pattern persists as long as the negative information can be reasonably avoided. However, when it’s too late, individuals may frantically seek information, often at a point when intervention is less effective. Our research involved an experiment where we asked approximately 100 individuals to estimate the likelihood of various negative events happening to them in the future. After presenting them with differing expert opinions, we observed that people tended to adjust their beliefs toward a more favorable view. This tendency to favor positive information was consistent across various age groups, with younger individuals being less receptive to negative news. The ability to learn from positive information remained stable throughout the lifespan, while the receptiveness to negative news changed with age.

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