Self-Affirmations Can Boost Performance, Study Shows

04/17/2015 09:23 am ET | Updated May 14, 2015
PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou via Getty Images

Self-affirmations are often regarded as a new age concept, but science is here to offer a pretty valid reason to give them a try: They may help you excel in the office.

A new study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that people in low positions of power may perform better by using self-affirmations to calm their nerves. Study participants who first called to mind their greatest job strengths or other positive assets went on to operate with more confidence when placed in high-stakes situations.

"Anytime you have low expectations for your performance, you tend to sink down and meet those low expectations," said lead researcher Sonia Kang, an assistant professor of organizational behavior and human resource management at the University of Toronto, in a statement. "Self-affirmation is a way to neutralize that threat."

Researchers split 282 people into three separate role-playing experiments. The study discovered that those assigned high-power roles, such as job recruiters or salespeople, tended to succeed under pressure compared to their low-power counterparts playing roles like job candidates and consumers. Participants assigned to the last experiment were told the exercise would be an assessment of their negotiating skills; when the low-power players recited or wrote down encouraging self-affirmations about their abilities, it seemed to reduce the power gap between the two positions.

"Underperformance disappears when the low-power negotiator has an opportunity to self-affirm," concluded the study team, which also included researchers from Columbia University, the University of California, Berkeley, and Google.

Previous research has also supported the feel-good habit of self-affirmation. Studies show it can help improve problem solving under stress, boost well-being and increases self-compassion and pro-social behaviors.

And if that's not enough to convince you to say a few self-affirming mantras, let this little girl do it for you:

Here's to a more successful workday!

Also on HuffPost:

Positive Affirmations: 10 De-Stressing Phrases That Help Put Life Into Perspective
Suggest a correction
Comments

CONVERSATIONS