Just Say No

Just Say No

Zahra Sadeghi describes research showing how the language we use to describe our choices serves as a feedback mechanism that either enhances or interferes with our goal-directed behavior.

Originally shared by Zahra Sadeghi

Saying #no to unnecessary commitments can give you the time you need to recover and rejuvenate. Saying no to daily distractions can give you the space you need to focus on what is important to you. And saying no to temptation can help you stay on track and achieve your health goals. 

In a research study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, 120 students were split into two different groups.

The difference between these two groups was saying “I can’t” compared to “I don’t.”

Here’s what happened:

The students who told themselves “I can’t eat X” chose to eat the chocolate candy bar 61% of the time. Meanwhile, the students who told themselves “I don’t eat X” chose to eat the chocolate candy bars only 36% of the time. This simple change in terminology significantly improved the odds that each person would make a more healthy food choice.

Why “I Don’t” Works Better Than “I Can’t”

Your words help to frame your sense of empowerment and control. Furthermore, the words that you use create a #feedbackLoop in your brain that impacts your future behaviors.

For example, every time you tell yourself “I can’t”, you’re creating a feedback loop that is a reminder of your limitations. This terminology indicates that you’re forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do.

In comparison, when you tell yourself “I don’t”, you’re creating a feedback loop that reminds you of your control and power over the situation. It’s a phrase that can propel you towards breaking your bad habits and following your good ones.

Read more:

http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.1086/663212?uid=3739824&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21103988181897

#sciencesunday  

http://blog.bufferapp.com/a-scientific-guide-to-saying-no-how-to-avoid-temptation-and-distraction#more-5705//cdn.embedly.com/widgets/platform.js

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7 Comments


  1. I often ask myself, why to take such experiments seriously. I mean, there were only 60 students in each group. And all of them were students… (I asked the same question in the main post)

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  2. Siyavash Nekuruh Motlagh re. the numbers of the test groups, they would be relevant to statistical significance. Without looking at the data (which is behind a paywall, I doubt my medical school has access to this journal), it’s a valid point to raise but hard to answer. Could you explain your objection to the subjects being students? 

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