According to a recent study, just telling yourself “I can do better” can make you more successful at a given task.

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Positive thinking improves performance
By Jerry Brownstein
Many self-help and motivational programs use positive thinking and affirmations to change peoples’ lives for the better - and now there is scientific proof to back that up. According to a recent study of over 44,000 people, just telling yourself “I can do better” can make you more successful at a given task. This experiment was designed to see if motivational techniques really help performance. In conjunction with the BBC Lab UK, Professor Andrew Lane and his colleagues tested to see which physiological skills would help people improve their scores in an online game.

The study examined different motivational methods to see which would be more effective for any specific aspect of a task. The primary methods tested were self-talk and positive imagery. People using self-talk (telling yourself "I can do better next time") performed better than the control group in every portion of the task. Those using positive imagery (imagining yourself playing the game and beating your best score) also performed far better than the control groups.

The results of this study are very well regarded by experts because of its great size and scope. Having over 44,000 people participating is an astounding number considering that the majority of psychological experiments have fewer than 300 participants. In addition, the participants were divided into 12 experimental groups and one control group, whereas most studies have only two or three experimental groups. According to Professor Lane, “Science is telling us that when we put out positive thoughts we get positive results.”


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