One of the great enjoyments from blogging is you get to correspond with really insightful people.
That's Shanna. She wants to kick off a discussion on Priming, and I'm really grateful she contributed for our thinking benefit. Enjoy -
I'm reading Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell. At one point he talks about priming.
He cites a couple of studies. In the first, undergrads are given a few word jumbles and asked to create sentences with them. Included in the exercise are lists like tired, old, Florida, achy, etc. The researchers then measured the speed of the undergrads as they were leaving the office going back down the hall out of the office. Everyone moved more slowly after they were exposed to triggers about old age.
In another study, people were primed with terms implying either rudeness or politeness. And then the researchers sent them into another office to hand in their form to a secretary who was chatting with a confederate. They wanted to see how being primed to rudeness or politeness would effect how long they would wait to interrupt.
The ones primed to be rude interupted after about five minutes. But the ones primed to be polite didn't interrupt at ALL.
Clearly, there's something to be said for this priming business. Maybe motivational posters aren't as stupid as they look. And maybe putting pictures of fit people on your fridge instead of fat ones would create better results.
But to my mind, there's a HUGE amount room to experiment and optimize here.
To me, this is like the subliminal messages craze-- -- except that it might actually work. And it is pretty close to subliminal. In one study, the put people in a room where there were two pieces of rope hanging from the ceiling, too far apart to be reached by one person. The puzzle was to tie the ends of the rope together. Lots of people were stumped by this. The researcher let them stew for five minutes, then he reached out and idly began to play with the blind cord, swinging it to and fro like a pendulum. Then, suddenly, a light bulb seemed to go on in people's minds. The got one rope swinging, until it could be reached while holding the other cord. The catch? When questioned how they had come to that epiphany, no-one knew why they had suddenly had that idea. They had not consciously noticed the researcher fiddling at all.
All this is fascinating. I'm a brain injury survivor, so I'm pretty familiar with the workings of my brain. But this is one frontier I've never explored.
So I asked Sebastian if I could pitch this concept out to you. This is definitely one occasion where more brains is better. How might you use priming in your everyday life? How would you use it to obtain stretch goals? Could it work even if you know you're doing it (since the placebo effect has been shown to work even when you know it's placebo, I'm pretty confident that this could be done.)
I can't wait to see what you guys come up with.
You can find Shanna at ShannaMann.com - and let's hear your thoughts on priming in the comments. How could we use to get higher levels of performance, meet our goals, and live better lives?