Ever had someone tell you that the procedure would “really hurt” or that the test was “really hard” or that the boss was “impossible to deal with” and then had those scenarios play out just as predicted?
Turns out those early suggestions actually shaped the reality.
In a journal article in Current Directions in Psychological Science, psychological scientists Maryanne Garry, Robert Michael and Irving Kirsch studied the power of suggestion and discovered that deliberate suggestion can influence how well people remember things, how they respond to medical treatments, and even how they’ll behave.
The reason, they say, is attributable to something the Bigwigs call “Response Expectancies.” This means that the way we anticipate our response to a situation influences how we will actually respond. In other words, once you expect something to happen, your behaviors, thoughts, and reactions will actually contribute to making that expectation occur.
- If you think you’ll ace the interview and expect it to go well, you’re more likely to do a good job.
- If you think you’ll win the race, you’re more likely to train and prepare and perform in a way that gives you a greater chance of winning the race.
Using suggestion in this way can be a powerful tool in accomplishing our goals. But, many of us get caught up on the other side thinking only of our limitations. The power of suggestion works just as well then – to actually sabotage our success.
Suggestion and Self-sabotage
- If you think you won’t be a good parent, your behavior will rise up and show you that you’re right.
- Think you’ll struggle with the test then, you’re more likely to suffer through the exam and come up with a lesser grade than if you expected to do well.
- Has it been suggested that your no one in your family knows how to have a healthy marriage? Then, you may unconsciously do things to sabotage your own relationship.
- Expect to get that cold – because everyone is getting it – you’re bound to be ill.
In fact, the influence of suggestion and our expectation is so far-reaching that scientists are now looking at how the power of suggestion and expectancy influence medical treatment, criminal investigations, policy decisions and educational processes.
“If real treatment and suggestion lead to a similar outcome, what differentiates between the two?” says Maryanne Garry, one of the authors of the journal article. “If we can harness the power of suggestion, we can improve people’s lives.”
On Wednesday, I’ll write about how we can use the power of suggestion to create and enhance our positive beliefs and power-up our every-day lives.
Photo by: Stock.xchng