You're not good enough, study finds | Buzz Blog

Monday, July 6, 2009

You're not good enough, study finds

Posted By on July 6, 2009, 2:06 PM

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"I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and, doggone it, people like me" may have been the advice of Stewart Smallie, but The Journal of Psychological Science published a study called The Problem With Self-help Books: The Negative Side To Positive Self-statements, which finds positive self-statements can actually be detrimental.


Psychologists Joanne V. Wood and John W. Lee from the University of Waterloo, and W.Q. Elaine Perunovic from the University of New Brunswick asked participants with low self-esteem and high self- esteem to repeat the self-help book phrase "I am a lovable person." The participants' moods and feelings about themselves were then measured. The results--individuals with low self-esteem felt worse after repeating the positive self- statement compared to another low self-esteem group who did not repeat the self-statement. Individuals with high self-esteem felt better after repeating the positive self-statement, but only slightly.

Paradoxically, the psychologists found that low self-esteem participants' moods improved when they were allowed to have negative thoughts compared to when they were asked to focus exclusively on affirmative thoughts.

The psychologists suggested that, just like overly positive praise, unreasonably positive self-statements like "I accept and love myself completely," can provoke contradictory thoughts in people with low self-esteem. Such negative thoughts can overwhelm the positive thoughts, making them ineffective. Also, if people are instructed to focus exclusively on positive thoughts, they may find negative thoughts to be especially discouraging.

What do you think readers? Agree? Disagree? Either way, I guess my dvd copy of The Secret is going in the trash bin.

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