There’s a whole area of study in psychology called priming. It’s the study of how things that are often outside our awareness can influence our behavior without our knowing it.
Well, in one study of priming researchers wanted to know if just seeing the right kind of image could cause participants to think of dieting and be more resistant to “unhealthy” food items.
So they got together 4 groups of women but I’ll only discuss the two groups that mattered. One group entered a room with three nature photos on the walls and a soda they could choose to drink or not
A second group entered the same room with three photos of fit females.
The women in both groups were asked to estimate the amount of calories in the soda.
Those who saw the pictures fit females estimated the number of calories in the soda to be much higher than those who saw the nature photos.
This is what psychologists call “counteractive construal.” It’s a process that increases your resistance to temptation.
So as a result, the women who saw the fit female posters had greater resistance to drinking the soda.
How can you use this information to help yourself?
When trying to achieve a goal, put visual reminders of the result you want to achieve when in places you would be tempted to violate your plans.
If you want to eat healthier, put images of healthy people on the fridge (or any place else that has snacks). If you’re a student who needs motivation to study, put pictures of people in graduation uniforms near your desk.
What kinds of pictures will you use to prime yourself to resist temptation so you can achieve your goals? Tell me in the comments below.
Reference to study mentioned above:
Counteractive Construal in Consumer Goal Pursuit
Ying Zhang, Szu‐chi Huang, and Susan M. Broniarczyk. Journal of Consumer Research. Volume 37, Issue 1, Page 129–142, Jun 2010