A new study has found that instead of making statements as your New Year’s Resolutions, you should be writing down questions and answers in order to keep your promises, psychologists say.
For instance, instead of telling yourself “I will eat healthier”, you should ask yourself “Will I eat healthier?” and then answer with “Yes”. When people pose their goals as questions, they are usually more successful in changing their behaviours, compared with when they only use statements, the new study suggests.
In the study – published December 28 in the Journal of Consumer Psychology – the researchers looked at more than one hundred previous studies that have been conducted over an eight-year period. All of those studies analysed the effect of asking questions instead of just saying statement in different contexts, such as exercising more, going to vote, or eating healthier.
The findings showed that people’s behaviour was more influenced by questions, specifically those that could be answered with yes or no, compared with statements.
Eric Spangenberg, co-author on the paper and professor of marketing and psychology at the University of California, Irvine, said that in most of the studies, the participants were questioned by another person. The only thing they had to do was answer the questions. The other studies also looked at how self-questioning affected people’s behaviour, and whether this techniques was indeed effective.
When setting New Year’s resolution, people should team up with a friend because committing to something in public will make them more likely to stick with their promises, Spangenberg said.
It is possible that questions work better than statements, due to the fact that they create a sense of obligation, a pressure to follow through, which helps motivate people, Spangenberg suggested.
Yes or no questions are also more definitive, according to the researchers. You either are or are not going to eat healthier in the future. However, the questions designed to influence behaviour do not necessary have to be yes or no questions, Spangenberg said.
Moreover, when the questions encouraged behaviours such as working out, eating healthy, recycling, and so on (considered as ‘social norms’) they tended to be a lot more effective, the researchers found.
Making just a few resolutions, as well as keeping a diary of you progress may also help, other research suggested. You should also make up your mind to persevere, even if at times you might slip up.
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