Use 'I Don't' Phrases Over 'I Can't' To Resist Temptation

Use

How you phrase your goal might have an effect on whether you complete it. Researchers say phrases starting with "I don't" are more effective for setting goals than those starting with "I can't".

Picture: Filter Collective/Flickr

The 2012 study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, analysed 120 students and their ability to resist eating chocolate. Those who said "I can't eat X" chose to eat the bar 61 per cent of the time, as opposed to 36 per cent from those who said "I don't eat X". The scientists write:

This research is based on the insight that the language we use to describe our choices serves as a feedback mechanism that either enhances or impedes our goal-directed behaviour. Specifically, we investigate the influence of a linguistic element of self-talk, in which a refusal may be framed as "I don't" (vs. "I can't"), on resisting temptation and motivating goal-directed behaviour.

Digital marketer CamMi Pham cited the study in a post that is worth reading for some quality insights on being productive, but there is specific science for goal setting if that's what you're specifically looking for.

Empowered Refusal Motivates Goal-Directed Behaviour [Journal of Consumer Research via Medium]


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