Belief

Think That Positive Mantras Help a Lot? Try Value Affirmation Instead

thinking is one of the most touted philosophies in the world. Many authors have written many different books and articles professing about the advantages of positive mantras, and the list includes not only writers but many notable industrialists, celebrities, and highly respected personalities.

Decoding positive thinking

Positive thinking 1 is actually developing our mindset in such a way that we expect good and only favorable outcomes from any events. In other words, it’s the process of transferring our energy into reality by thinking only optimistic thoughts. (That’s what the notion is, at least.)

Does it really work?

While many people believe that positive thinking really leads you to the path of glory and happiness, there are others who think otherwise. Both sides have put forward many compelling reasons supporting their views. While the argument may be never ending, the detractors have a strong foothold over their claims because the proponents of the debate don’t have too many scientific backings behind their claims.

How positive mantras can backfire

Suppression of negative emotions causes outbursts of dreadful negativity

If we use positive mantras 2 too frequently, then it might work for a shorter period but on the long run, it may cause even more adverse consequences. Why so? When we use a positive mantra, it tends to suppress our negative emotions. But, if it continues for a longer time and becomes a habit, then we might be overwhelmed by even more negative feelings at times when the results are not as expected, as there should be a balance between positive emotions and negative emotions in life. The balance of positive and negative feelings in life is also supported by the Ying and Yang theory developed by the Chinese.

Action speaks louder than mantras

Additionally, uttering positive mantras in our life might work sometimes and also, to channel the energy into reality, utter faith and absolute belief are required. However, the mantras most definitely prove themselves useless, if we just keep chanting positive mantras but fail to put into action the message that the mantra is supposed to convey. As a consequence of that, we might be caught off guard by negative kind of vibes, and feel highly frustrated because our mind will immediately conjure up many negative thoughts.

For instance, if you believe that a perfect body is the one with well-toned abs, biceps, and wings, which you don’t possess, but keep on insisting that you have a perfect body, then your mind will start searching for the fallacies (which you think, mind it) within your body. You will be insecure about the little bit of belly protruding out, you will be insecure about your waistlines and even your arms. This will make you more insecure about your body and will depress you…

Your Political Beliefs Make You Bad at Math

Photo by Chip Somodevilla / Getty

According to a 2013 Yale study, when facts seem to contradict your political opinions, your brain will work so hard to protect your beliefs that you’ll do worse at math. And surprisingly, the effect is stronger on people who are usually good at math.

Yale researchers asked participants to solve math problems about skin cream, and graded their ability. Then they swapped out the skin cream terms for gun-control terms. Liberal participants had a harder time confirming a result that seemed to support looser gun laws; conservatives had a harder time with the reverse. Those who did best on the skin cream question did worst when challenged…

Time to Stop Those Positive Mantras! Studies Show They Only Make You More Negative

Psychology

thinking is one of the most touted philosophies in the world. Many authors have written many different books and articles professing about the advantages of positive mantras, and the list includes not only writers but many notable industrialists, celebrities, and highly respected personalities.

Decoding positive thinking

Positive thinking 1 is actually developing our mindset in such a way that we expect good and only favorable outcomes from any events. In other words, it’s the process of transferring our energy into reality by thinking only optimistic thoughts. (That’s what the notion is, at least.)

Does it really work?

While many people believe that positive thinking really leads you to the path of glory and happiness, there are others who think otherwise. Both sides have put forward many compelling reasons supporting their views. While the argument may be never ending, the detractors have a strong foothold over their claims because the proponents of the debate don’t have too many scientific backings behind their claims.

How positive mantras can backfire

Suppression of negative emotions causes outbursts of dreadful negativity

If we use positive mantras 2 too frequently, then it might work for a shorter period but on the long run, it may cause even more adverse consequences. Why so? When we use a positive mantra, it tends to suppress our negative emotions. But, if it continues for a longer time and becomes a habit, then we might be overwhelmed by even more negative feelings at times when the results are not as expected, as there should be a balance between positive emotions and negative emotions in life. The balance of positive and negative feelings in life is also supported by the Ying and Yang theory developed by the Chinese.

Action speaks louder than mantras

Additionally, uttering positive mantras in our life might work sometimes and also, to channel the energy into reality, utter faith and absolute belief are required. However, the mantras most definitely prove themselves useless, if we just keep chanting positive mantras but fail to put into action the message that the mantra is supposed to convey. As a consequence of that, we might be caught off guard by negative kind of vibes, and feel highly frustrated because our mind will immediately conjure up many negative thoughts.

For instance, if you believe that a perfect body is the one with well-toned abs, biceps, and wings, which you don’t possess, but keep on insisting that you have a perfect body, then your mind will start searching for the fallacies (which you think, mind it) within your body. You will be insecure about the little bit of belly protruding out, you will be insecure about your waistlines and even your arms. This will make you more insecure about your body and will depress you even more.

Your Beliefs About How Your Memory Works Is a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Article Image

Did you forget to pick up the milk?!

We often curse our lack of recalling what we just heard, such as forgetting one of the items that a significant other told us to pick up at the grocery store. While our memory is crucial to the equation, so is our expectation about our memory. In the situation of the forgotten milk, we didn’t write down the grocery items to buy because we wrongly assumed we would remember everything to buy. We overestimated our recall ability–falling for an illusion of how we remember.

But why?

Credit: Getty Images
Credit: Getty Images

A new study by researchers from The Conversation looked into how our expectations as to what we’ll remember impacts what we in fact recall. In particular, the researchers examined how subtle changes in delivery such as sound and font size may cause people to overestimate or underestimate their recall abilities. The researchers found that people tend to use a combination of ease-of-processing and their beliefs about memory when making recall predictions.

This is the study of what is referred to as metamemory illusions–the situations that impact our beliefs about the future memory of something. Seeing words in a large font or hearing them at a loud volume are common illusions–many people assume that the volume or font size will improve their recall, when in fact it may have little impact (our beliefs about memory). Likewise, when we actually hear words at a loud volume or read text at a large font size, we may assume that we’ll remember it better (ease of processing).

Why Is This Important?

Forgetting the milk is one thing, but failing to recall something for an important test or presentation is another. How well we think we’ll remember something influences our decisions about learning it. For example, if we assume we know the facts down cold for an upcoming presentation then we will stop preparing. Our overestimation of our recall ability,…

Confirmation Bias: Why You Should Seek Out Disconfirming Evidence

“What the human being is best at doing is
interpreting all new information
so that their prior conclusions remain intact.”

— Warren Buffett

***

The Basics

Confirmation bias is our tendency to cherry pick information which confirms pre-existing beliefs or ideas. This is also known as myside bias or confirmatory bias. Two people with opposing views on a topic can see the same evidence, and still come away both validated by it. Confirmation bias is pronounced in the case of ingrained, ideological, or emotionally charged views.

Failing to interpret information in an unbiased way can lead to serious misjudgements. By understanding this, we can learn to identify it in ourselves and others. We can be cautious of data which seems to immediately support our views.

When we feel as if others ‘cannot see sense’, a grasp of how confirmation bias works can enable us to understand why. Willard V Quine and J.S. Ullian described this bias in The Web of Belief as such:

The desire to be right and the desire to have been right are two desires, and the sooner we separate them the better off we are. The desire to be right is the thirst for truth. On all counts, both practical and theoretical, there is nothing but good to be said for it. The desire to have been right, on the other hand, is the pride that goeth before a fall. It stands in the way of our seeing we were wrong, and thus blocks the progress of our knowledge.

Experimentation beginning in the 1960s revealed our tendency to confirm existing beliefs, rather than questioning them or seeking new ones. Other research has revealed our single-minded need to enforce ideas.

Like many mental models, confirmation bias was first identified by the ancient Greeks. In The Peloponnesian War, Thucydides described this tendency as such:

For it is a habit of humanity to entrust to careless hope what they long for, and to use sovereign reason to thrust aside what they do not fancy.

Why we use this cognitive shortcut is understandable. Evaluating evidence (especially when it is complicated or unclear) requires a great deal of mental energy. Our brains prefer to take shortcuts. This saves the time needed to make decisions, in particular when under pressure. As many evolutionary scientists have pointed out, our minds are unequipped to handle the modern world. For most of human history, people experienced very little information during their lifetimes. Decisions tended to be survival based. Now, we are constantly receiving new information and have to make numerous complex choices each day. To stave off overwhelm, we have a natural tendency to take shortcuts.

In The Case for Motivated Reasoning, Ziva Kunda wrote “we give special weight to information that allows us to come to the conclusion we want to reach.” Accepting information which confirms our beliefs is easy and requires little mental energy. Yet contradicting information causes us to shy away, grasping for a reason to discard it.

The confirmation bias is so fundamental to your development and your reality that you might not even realize it is happening. We look for evidence that supports our beliefs and opinions about the world but excludes those that run contrary to our own… In an attempt to simplify the world and make it conform to our expectations, we have been blessed with the gift of cognitive biases.

How Confirmation Bias Clouds our Judgement

“The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion draws all things else to support and agree with it. And though there be a greater number and weight of instances to be found on the other side, yet these it either neglects and despises, or else by some distinction sets aside and rejects.”
— Francis Bacon

***

The complexity of confirmation bias partly arises from the fact that it is impossible to overcome it without an awareness of the concept. Even when shown evidence to contradict a biased view, we may still interpret it in a manner which reinforces our current perspective.

In one Stanford study, participants were chosen, half of whom were in favor of capital punishment. The other half were opposed to it. Both groups read details of the same two fictional studies. Half of the participants were told that one study supported the deterrent effect of capital punishment and the other opposed it. The other participants read the inverse information. At the conclusion of the study, the majority of participants stuck to their original views, pointing to the data which supported it and discarding that which did not.

Confirmation bias clouds our judgement. It gives us a skewed view of information, even straight numerical figures. Understanding this cannot fail to transform a person’s worldview. Or rather, our perspective on it. Lewis Carroll stated “we are what we believe we are”, but it seems that the world is also what we believe it to be.

A poem by Shannon L. Adler illustrates this concept:

Read it with sorrow and you will feel hate.
Read it with anger and you will feel vengeful.
Read it with paranoia and you will feel confusion.
Read it with empathy and you will feel compassion.
Read it with love and you will feel flattery.
Read it with hope and you will feel positive.
Read it with humor and you will feel joy.
Read it without bias and you will feel peace.
Do not read it at all and you will not feel a thing.

Confirmation bias is somewhat linked to our memories (similar to availability bias.) We have a penchant for recalling evidence which backs up our beliefs. However neutral the original information was, we fall prey to selective recall. As Leo Tolstoy wrote:

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has…

Successful People Don’t Just Listen to What People Tell Them, They Have These 7 Critical Thinking Habits

Ever been stuck with trying to get to a solution, but not getting anywhere? If you nod affirmatively, you may be lacking in critical thinking. What you have to remember about critical thinking though, is that you will not get from 0 to 100 in just a second. There are many skills that you need to learn and understand before you can get to use your brain this way : you inquire into and enquire about all the facets of a problem, before actually getting to solve it, keeping your “judgment” well out of the way.

Why Is Critical Thinking So Hard To Achieve?

The toughest thing about critical thinking is the fact that you need to suspend your judgment while you do so, keeping your very open to the thought that the belief you have about something, can in the next instant, proven to be wrong or incorrect. Also, as a critical thinker, you are in a way deviating from the norm, which means all the things that your peers believe and even want you to believe, can, in fact, be incorrect. The very basis of critical thinking is an almost continuous back and forth between making theories or beliefs, and then trying to accept or eliminate what works and what doesn’t. 1

Are You On The Right Path To Critical Thinking?

Despite the difficulty of critical thinking, it is becoming more and more of a valued tool in the professional field – perhaps because there is a dearth of critical thinkers. So to see whether you are the next best thing since sliced bread when it comes to critical thinking, you should try to take The California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory – a psychological test that can be used to measure whether people are disposed to think critically or not, by measuring seven different thinking habits, or essential skills. 2

  1. Truth-seeking: Are you a flame carrier for truth, and nothing but? Do you try and understand how things actually are instead of believing hearsay?
  2. Open-mindedness: Is new information acceptable, good or just bad to you? Do you give new ideas,…

If You Are Anxious Because What You Want Differs from What You Need, Follow These Steps

Have you ever felt torn between two strong ideals? For instance, let’s say that you’re doing well on your diet, sticking to your goals and staying on a routine. But you really want a cannoli. You deserve that cannoli. It doesn’t fit into your diet so you shouldn’t have it; but you’re going to enjoy it anyway.

That internal conflict is called Cognitive Dissonance, and it is the catalyst for self-justification.

When we have conflicts in our minds, we seek consistency in our beliefs.

Cognitive Dissonance is an internal conflict where two opposing attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors struggle for precedence. This conflict can cause tension and discomfort which can only be alleviated by the alteration of one of the attitudes, beliefs or behaviors in order to restore balance.

The Principal of Cognitive Consistency was theorized by Leon Festinger (1975) stating that people seek balance and consistency in our beliefs and attitudes, and will strain to find balance in any given situation where two conflicting cognitions are causing a rift.1

From this theory spawned a new theory that would come to be known as the Cognitive Dissonance Theory; the powerful motive to maintain cognitive consistency can produce irrational and maladaptive behavior within individuals.

Festinger believed that we hold many strong beliefs or cognition’s about ourselves and the world. When these ideals clash, it causes turmoil and imbalance; a state known as cognitive dissonance. Because this sensation is unpleasant, we are inclined to alleviate or eliminate the conflict to once again achieve dissonance.

In the 1950’s, Leon developed this theory during his time spent infiltrating a cult that believed the world would end on December 21st. Their leader warned them that on this day, extraterrestrial invaders would reign down and wipe out any sign of human life. Her noble followers gave up all of their money and belongings as one last attempt to achieve salvation before the end. December 21st came and went and alas, the world had not ended. The lesser devoted followers realized that they’d been conned and dismissed all ties with the cult. But those who had sacrificed everything and fully devoted themselves to the cause celebrated; believing that their devotion is what saved the world.

The devoted followers used cognitive dissonance as a coping mechanism; believing their actions had saved them instead of coming to terms with the fact that they mindlessly gave away all of their possessions at the request of a mentally unstable cult leader.

Our dissonance fluctuates depending on the values that we attach to our beliefs.

Our innate nature calls for balance, and as humans we are sensitive to inconsistencies between beliefs and actions. Two factors affect the severity of the dissonance: the number of dissonant beliefs, and the importance that is attached to each of the beliefs. This will determine which of the beliefs will be altered in order to restore balance.

Dissonance tends to increase depending on the importance of the subject at hand, how strong of a conflict occurs between the two dissonant thoughts, and our inability to rationalize and resolve…