Imagine you’re clever

Here’s one of my favourite pieces of Educational Psychology research from the ’80s. The researcher took some kids, split them into two groups and gave them the same tests. One group was simply asked to “act as if they were clever”. They nailed it and performed significantly better than the other. Why?

“…instead of responding spontaneously to the task from a habitually assumed perspective, [the child] is encouraged to make their behaviour the object of their considerations [...], so creating a distance, a detachment from what they are actually doing, in terms of the question: ‘How would a clever person do the task?’”

Also, a slightly heartbreaking quote from one of the interviews:

“Do you usually do better than the person you acted like or worse?”
“– Worse”
“Why?”
“– Because I’m Paul Hanworth”.

It just goes to show the deep importance of self confidence – not just in the way we express ourselves to others, but in the actual thought processes that we engage in.

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