The biggest criticism of inspirational material is that its mostly a collection of hollow buzzwords serving to boost the ego of wishful thinkers.
But what if there was scientific evidence that supported the notion that certain words, when absorbed by your subconscious mind, would lead to certain actions?
The Hypothesis:What we read or hear can and does lead us to involuntary actions.
A simple test for this would be word affiliations, followed by a blind word association test that should lead to specific actions. If they don’t, then our hypothesis is false.
Tests & Results
The amazing thing is, these tests have already been conducted. Psychologists discovered what is known as the priming effect, which showed that in word association experiments, the scientists could prime your mind to think and react a certain way.
For instance, after you read the word “bone” you are significantly more likely to fill in the missing letter of the word D_G with an O than you are with an I. But if you were were to read the word “shovel”, you would have been more likely to do the opposite. In blind studies, psychologists have been able to demonstrate that this process has a significant impact on how people answer questions even though they are not aware any influence is taking place.
This shouldn’t be surprising. We only need to see a few TV commercials to be reminded that we are all manipulated in this capacity. But the priming effect goes much further than this.
In his masterpiece “Thinking Fast and Slow”, Daniel Kahnerman points out that this phenomena is not limited to merely filling out words. There are ways to elicit certain actions by priming your subconscious mind.
To quote Kahnerman:
“The psychologist John Bargh and his collaborators asked students at New York University – most aged eighteen to twenty-two – to assemble four-word sentences from a set of five words. For one group of students, half the scrambled sentences contained words associated with the elderly, such as Florida, forgetful, bald, gray, or wrinkle.”
“When they had completed the that task, the young participants were sent out to do another experiment in an office down the hall. That short walk was what the experiment was about.“
“The researchers unobtrusively measured the time it took people to get from one end of the corridor to the other. As Bargh had predicted, the young people who had fashioned a sentence from words with an elderly theme walked down the hallway significantly more slowly than the others.”
What these studies demonstrate is that your conscious mind can be circumvented, and it matters what type of material you are absorbing. It not only drives home the value of positive material, but it really highlights the importance of being very protective about what content you adsorb on a regular basis.
You should be asking, what is your mind being primed to do? Feeling good is highly practical, but positive action is what leads to success. If you believe action in the face of opportunity is better than inaction, you already know inspirational material has value.