Saturday, February 28, 2009

Here Is One Technique To Motivate Kids For Better Performance

image by gokoroko, sxc.hu

Positive Visual Cues, Delivered Subtly, Does The Trick

Do you think that your kid's academic report-card does not reflect his or her true capabilities? A recent research has provided empirical evidence that positive visual cues delivered subtly can improve academic performance of certain category of students. Here are some details.

image by mexikids, sxc.hu

The research was conducted on a group of first year undergraduate students attending a regular psychology class (both genders, average age around 19). The class comprised a lecturer explaining the nuances of some topic by stepping through a slideshow. For one group of students, the slideshow was interspersed with "special" slides that contained negative-sounding words such as "obligation", "constraint", "forced" and "ought". For another group of students, the slideshow had slides that contained positive words such as "interested", "desire", "willing" and "free". Each such slide had one single such word, positioned at random locations on the slide. While normal slides were displayed for the appropriate duration by the lecturer to explain the topic, the special slides were each displayed for 32 milliseconds followed by a 16-millisecond-mask. In other words, using the self-development industry lingo, a visual subliminal technique was used.

image by kd5ytx, sxc.hu

The students were subjected to a quiz immediately after the class was over, on the topic that was just discussed. It was found that in the group that was subjected to the negative subliminals, certain students performed less better than they would have otherwise. Similarly, in the group that was subjected to positive subliminals, certain students performed much better than they would have otherwise. For the other students, the subliminals appeared to make no difference in their performance. The inference? These certain students are more amenable to being motivated / de-motivated to subtle visual cues delivered subliminally.

image by anissat, sxc.hu

So what was special about these "certain" students? A common attitude these students across the two groups shared was that their actions are driven by impulse and / or they blindly follow routines mechanically, automatically. Put differently, these kids would normally not pause and deliberate about their own thought processes and actions in day-to-day activities. These kids are normally easily affected by subconscious cues available in the environment, because they do not possess a "mindful" disposition.

image by ywel, sxc.hu

"Mindful" kids, on the other hand, keep in perspective their actions in the present context and are fully aware of why they are doing what they are doing. These kids have a questioning mind that wants justification all the time about what they are being asked to do. Thus, there is a defensive wall erected between the environmental cues and their subconscious. (While in one sense this could be good, the other side of the coin is that they are fobbing off even the cues that are positive and affirmative and useful for their growth.)

image by anissat, sxc.hu

Does this distinction between "mindful" behavior and "non-mindful" behavior confuse? Never mind, irrespective of which category you think your kid fits in, this could be one technique - providing positive visual cues, delivered subtly - worth using.

image by nicosven, sxc.hu


The research has been reported in the Journal of Research in Personality (article still in press), available online here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2009.02.011. While on the subject of subliminality, here is a book that may be referred to for further information: "The new consciousness". There is a stack of articles on the subject on the blog here: http://success-nirvana.blogspot.com (click on the 'subliminality' label in the side-panel.)

'The new consciousness', Amazon.com_*

* 'The new consciousness', Amazon.com.

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