Change behavior of people is one of the things plus difficult that exist. Especially if those behaviors come from habits deep already installed in the minds of their protagonists. This is why it is so difficult to achieve things like people stop smokeeat more healthy or behave wisely when steering wheel. Actions in which, who more and who less, we can all agree on their convenience, but at the moment of truth, it costs “One world” get them to actually happen.
Moved to the current crisis of coronavirus, the combination of communication about immediate and palpable contagion alarm and deaths (the bad news), along with the daily recognition of society, whether in hospitals, in supermarkets or simply staying in House, going out to the balconies to share applause with neighbors and, above all, complying with the sanitary recommendations, is giving good results as far as the campaign against the pandemic it means. Much better than if the campaign had been limited to predictions catastrophists on the future effects of not complying with the rules of confinement, hygiene or social distancing.
Basically there are two ways to try to persuade a person to modify their shape of Act. By warning and by expectation positive. The first of these approaches is based on fear of a possible unwanted future. The message is: If you continue on this path, you risk suffering these horrible consequences. We can see this approach in those chilling photographs of lung cancer patients that appear in tobacco packs, or in those television commercials that show victims of accidents of traffic and the devastation of their families. Is a way.
The belief that fear of the future is a deterrent to bad human habits is quite widespread. However, studies that have tried to demonstrate it indicate that its incidence in appreciable and lasting changes in behavior is minimal. Above all, if that fear is based on a statistic, on something that could happen but could also not happen. That’s when people cling to the statistics plus favorable and we remember that, despite the high percentage of lung cancer cases among smokers, our grandfather reached the age of 92 and continued to take his daily pack until the end.
There is another approach, that of seeking a change of habit based on a positive projection of the future. In this approach, the threats of the “disaster that is looming if you don’t change course” are replaced by “the enormous advantages that await us when we consume the change”. It is going from “as you do not start exercising and eating better, you can end up having a heart attack” to “if you start doing sports and eating better, you will feel more agile, you will look better and you will be more satisfied with yourself”.
Faced with negative stimuli we become ostriches that hide their heads.
Our brain will always prefer the second approach, because biologically it works better with positive stimuli than with negative ones, with good news than with bad. The professor of cognitive neuroscience in the Department of Experimental Psychology at University College London, Tali Sharot, is one of the researchers who has delved the most into the prevalence of optimism in the human brain. In one of his experiments, he analyzed the behavior of people who consult stock information websites. His observations concluded that when the Stock Market rises, four times more readers enter the market than when it falls. And it is that the bad news worries the human brain and causes an animal response to escape. Faced with negative stimuli we become ostriches that hide their heads.
Although for the positive approach to really work it is necessary to add a new ingredient. And it is that our brain will feel much more inclined to work in that positive expectation of the future if it already gets some kind of reward in the present, a kind of advance that reaffirms us in
our will to change and confirm that the effort will be worth it.
For example, if shortly after starting to run we sign up for a popular race and manage to finish it, that modest goal accomplished acts as a powerful stimulus that strengthens us and, from the present, already connects us with that desired future. The changes necessary to achieve a better future are built from decisions of the present that are based on achievable positive expectations and that have an effect on the here and now.
Translated into language Covid-19We have not yet overcome the pandemic, but every day at eight in the afternoon we go out on the balcony to celebrate that we are a little closer.
Fernando Bottle He is the author of How to train the mind? And learn exponentially