If you’re not feeling particularly self-confident, you may be able to boost it by setting out to write a long list of your many failures. Why? Because you’ll fail. It all comes down to something that psychologists are calling “cognitive fluency”. The Boston Globe explains the concept:
Cognitive fluency is simply a measure of how easy it is to think about something, and it turns out that people prefer things that are easy to think about to those that are hard. On the face of it, it’s a rather intuitive idea. But psychologists are only beginning to uncover the surprising extent to which fluency guides our thinking, and in situations where we have no idea it is at work. Because it shapes our thinking in so many ways, fluency is implicated in decisions about everything from the products we buy to the people we find attractive to the candidates we vote for – in short, in any situation where we weigh information. It’s a key part of the puzzle of how feelings like attraction and belief and suspicion work, and what researchers are learning about fluency has ramifications for anyone interested in eliciting those emotions.
So how can you feel better by trying to focus on how much you’ve failed as a person? When you try to accomplish a big project without thinking it through, you often get stuck and become frustrated. You probably give up — or at least stop for the time being — because the solutions you need aren’t that easy to come by. The theory goes that if you’re trying to accomplish writing a very long, tedious list of your failures — a list that will require a lot of thinking and analysis — you’ll have that same reaction where you get frustrated and want to stop. Because the task is cognitively disfluent, you’ll actually feel good about not being able or motivated to finish. You’re basically tricking your mind into thinking everything’s great by failing to come up with, say, 100 ways things are actually not so great. How well this works we’re not sure, but it’s certainly an interesting idea.
For more on the topic of cognitive fluency, be sure to hit up the full article at the Boston Globe. It’s fascinating.
Easy = True [The Boston Globe]