Rather than nailing down a number (lose 20 pounds, say, or save $100 more per month), it’s best to keep those goals a little vague if you want to succeed, says a new study to be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science.
The team — comprised of husband and wife Himanshu and Arul Mishra, assistant professors of marketing at the University of Utah, and Baba Shiv of Stanford Graduate School of Business — designed experiments to look at improvements in mental acuity, physical strength and weight loss. They found in each case that when study participants were given a vague marker of improvement rather than a specific one, they showed a much higher rate of improvement.
So you can trick yourself into improvement? Pretty much. The authors call the mental distortion “akin to placebo effects.”
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