Positivity pays off, study finds

Can Thinking You Can Go Up The Hill Actually Make You Go Up The Hill?

It is possible, according to a new study.

People were more successful at a task relying on their working memory when they had cognitive training and learned that it would help them improve their performance, according to the study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“This study was the first to demonstrate that participants’ expectations of how their cognitive performance ‘should’ change as a result of cognitive training can influence the actual results they show,” said Jocelyn Parong, lead author of the study and post-doctoral researcher. research associate department of psychology Learning and Transfer Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, via email.

“That is, those who expected their cognition to improve did indeed improve more after 20 training sessions than those who expected their cognition not to improve. , whether they underwent an actual working memory training intervention or a control training intervention.”

The divided study 193 people in two groups. According to the study, one group was told that cognitive training would help them perform better, and the other was not. Then half of each group did cognitive training, while the others played a simple trivia game.

All participants received training according to the study. But those who did best had the training and were told it would be helpful; therefore, they had more positive expectations, according to the study.

“For more than a decade, there has been ongoing scientific controversy over whether computerized cognitive training, such as ‘working memory training’ can be used to generally improve intellectual functioning. (cognitive),” said Jason Chein, professor of psychology. and Neuroscience at Temple University, via email. Chein did not participate in the study.

Studies have pointed out the effectiveness of such training, but some critics argue that the benefits may simply come from a placebo effect.

This study took this question head on by comparing the results of people who had taken the training with those who were not as good as those with high expectations and those with low expectations, he added.

“The strongest results may come from combining cognitive training strategies with encouraging participants about the likely benefits of investing in training,” Chein said.

Positivity pays

What can we learn from a study of working memory? On the one hand, positivity pays off.

“It can’t hurt to have positive attitudes or expectations about cognitive training interventions (or behavioral interventions in general) if you want to maximize your results,” Parong said.

Chein added that “the expectation that there can be change and benefit from one’s efforts can in itself be a powerful motivator for that change.”

It’s no surprise that a good attitude can make a difference. Many studies confirm this point.

A 2008 study by the University of California, Riverside Researchers have shown that happy people are more satisfied with their work and report having greater autonomy in their duties.

In addition, they perform better than their less happy peers and receive more support from their colleagues.

Being happy and optimistic can prolong your life, help manage stress, reduce risk death from cardiovascular disease and even protect you from colds, according to the Mayo Clinic.

There is some hope that studies like these will lead to more cognitive training tools that can be applied to enhance cognition and help us complete difficult tasks, Chein said.

This study had a solid methodology, Chein said, but added that there were still limitations to its scope, such as the researchers not knowing the belief systems or expectations with which the participants arrived.

“Readers should always be skeptical of overhyped claims about improving memory, attention, creativity, etc.,” he said.

Parong noted that his findings need to be replicated and that he still has some questions to answer “about when and how the expectation effect occurs.”

In his study, the expectation effect lasted as long as participants were unaware that the research team’s decisions had affected their expectations.

Comments are closed.