Looking into the future -- can your perspective influence your motivation?

October 31, 2007

Students, athletes and performing artists are often advised to imagine themselves performing successfully. That strategy is believed to motivate them for future exams, games, and shows. But is that motivation influenced by what perspective they take when imagining their performance? Research published by SAGE in the October issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin explores that question.

The three studies explored in the article looked at two ways to visualize future performances - first person (watching oneself through one's own eyes) and third person (watching oneself from the perspective of another person). The authors, Noelia A. Vasquez, at York University (Canada) and Roger Buehler, at Wilfrid Laurier University (Canada), found that the third person perspective resulted in greater motivation to succeed at the task, especially when people imagined themselves performing well. The increased third person perspective appears to assign greater meaning to the task.

"Mental imagery is commonly used as a preparation strategy in a wide range of performance domains (school, sports, performing arts, public speaking, licensure exams - as well less 'institutionalized' future performances, such as bringing up a difficult issue with a boss, or resisting temptations such as food or cigarettes)," commented the authors. "These studies suggest that if someone needs a motivational boost to prepare, they may be well advised to envision themselves from the perspective of their audience."
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The article, "Seeing Future Success: Does Imagery Perspective Influence Achievement Motivation?" published by SAGE in the October issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, an official publication of The Society for Personality and Social Psychology, is available at no charge for a limited time at http://psp.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/33/10/1392.

For over 30 years, the official monthly journal of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (PSPB) has provided an international forum for the rapid dissemination of original empirical papers in all areas of personality and social psychology. SPSP counts more than 4,500 researchers, educators, and students in its membership worldwide. To contact the Executive Officer of SPSP, call David Dunning at (607) 255-6391, or email at spsp@cornell.edu. http://pspb.sagepub.comwww.spsp.org

SAGE is a leading international publisher of journals, books, and electronic media for academic, educational, and professional markets. Since 1965, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students spanning a wide range of subject areas including business, humanities, social sciences, and science, technology and medicine. A privately owned corporation, SAGE has principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, and Singapore. www.sagepublications.com

SAGE

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