Often, in personal relationships and workplaces, we realise that a few of our longstanding habits or behaviours may not be best suited for us. We may tend to forget things easily, get agitated or deal with feelings of incompetence — what can be done to change these behaviours?
Dr Tali Sharot, neuroscientist at University College London and the director of the Affective Brain Lab shares three ingredients “to doing what’s good for yourself”.
Dr Sharot explains that we all share a deep-rooted belief, “that if you threaten people, if fear is induced, it will get them to act.”
“It seems like a really reasonable assumption, except for the fact the science shows that warnings have very limited impact on behaviour.”
Dr Sharot’s team conducted an experiment where they asked approximately 100 people to estimate the likelihood of 80 different negative events that might happen. They learnt that in all these age groups, “people take in information they want to hear — like someone telling you you’re more attractive than you thought — than information that they don’t want to hear”.
Dr Sharot goes on to say that instead of using warnings about bad things that can happen in the future, like disease, we can use three principles to “really drive your mind and your behaviour.”
*Social incentives– Highlighting what other people are doing is a really strong incentive.
*Immediate reward– We can reward ourselves and others now for behaving in ways that are good for us in the future and that’s a way for us to bridge the temporal gap.
*Progress monitoring–Highlight the progress, not the decline.