Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Third-person Perspective Is Helpful In Meeting Goals

Date:
April 17, 2005
Source:
Cornell University
Summary:
Using a third-person perspective can help people achieve personal goals better than using first-person perspective when they visual themselves from the past, says Thomas Gilovich, professor of psychology at Cornell, and former graduate students Lisa K. Libby and Richard Eibach in a recent issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Trying to lose weight, be less nervous when speaking publicly or improve in some other way? One strategy that can help is to switch your point of view from the first-person to a third-person perspective when reviewing your progress, according to a series of studies conducted at Cornell University.

"We have found that perspective can influence your interpretation of past events. In a situation in which change is likely, we find that observing yourself as a third person -- looking at yourself from an outside observer's perspective -- can help accentuate the changes you've made more than using a first-person perspective," says Thomas Gilovich, professor of psychology at Cornell. When people perceive change, they get some satisfaction from their efforts, which, in turn, can give them more motivation to keep on working toward a personal goal, he says.

Gilovich and former graduate students Lisa K. Libby, Cornell Ph.D. '03 and an assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University, and Richard Eibach, Cornell Ph.D. '03 and an assistant professor of psychology at Yale University, conducted a series of studies to examine the effects of memory perspective on perceiving personal change. Their work is published in a recent issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Vol. 88, No. 1, 2005).

The social psychologists asked participants to picture a particular event from their lives either from a first-person or third-person perspective. The volunteers then evaluated how much they thought they had changed since the event had occurred.

For example, in one study 38 college students who had been in psychotherapy were asked either to recall their first appointment through their own eyes (first person) or "from an observer's visual perspective" (third person). Those who recalled their appointment from a third-person perspective reported that they had made significantly more progress in treatment than did those who took a first-person perspective.

The researchers also found that memory perspective can affect behavior. They recruited college students who said they had been socially awkward in high school and asked them to visualize an occasion of their social awkwardness either from a first- or third-person perspective. Not only were those who recalled their awkwardness from a third-person perspective more likely to say they had changed, but they also were more likely to be more socially adept -- initiating conversations, for example -- just after the experiment when they did not know they were being observed.

"When participants recalled past awkwardness from a third-person perspective, they felt they had changed and were now more socially skilled," said Libby, the first author of the study. "That led them to behave more sociably and appear more socially skilled to the research assistant."

Gilovich points out, however, that a third-person perspective accentuates perceived changes when people seeking self-improvement are focused on differences between their present and past selves. But when the volunteers were asked to focus on similarities from the past by visualizing a past event that was positive, such as something they were proud of, the third-person perspective tended to promote perceptions of continuity between the present self and a positive past self.

"In other words, recalling memories from a third-person perspective produces judgments of greater self-change when people are inclined to look for evidence of change, but lesser self-change when they are inclined to look for similarities from the past or evidence of continuity," concludes Gilovich.

The research suggests that the saying, "It depends on how you look at it," has literal truth when it comes to assessing personal change.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cornell University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cornell University. "Third-person Perspective Is Helpful In Meeting Goals." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 April 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/04/050417162526.htm>.
Cornell University. (2005, April 17). Third-person Perspective Is Helpful In Meeting Goals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/04/050417162526.htm
Cornell University. "Third-person Perspective Is Helpful In Meeting Goals." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/04/050417162526.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) In a ruling attorneys for both sides agreed was a first of its kind, a Georgia appeals court said parents can be held liable for what kids put online. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

Buzz60 (Oct. 17, 2014) Feeling down? Reach for the refrigerator, not the medicine cabinet! TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) shares some of the best foods to boost your mood. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

Newsy (Oct. 15, 2014) Researchers claim they’ve diagnosed the first example of the disorder in a 31-year-old U.S. Navy serviceman. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Confirmed Case Of Google Glass Addiction

First Confirmed Case Of Google Glass Addiction

Buzz60 (Oct. 15, 2014) A Google Glass user was treated for Internet Addiction Disorder caused from overuse of the device. Morgan Manousos (@MorganManousos) has the details on how many hours he spent wearing the glasses, and what his symptoms were. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins