July 6, 2009

Evidence for the motivational impact of the perspective change question

In the post Perspective change I described a simple way to help clients visualize the desired situation from a third person perspective. With this technique you ask in essence: ”How will other people notice things will have become better?" An example: "How will the customer notice our service orientation will have improved?" My experience is that this type of question, which I dubbed the perspective change question helps clients to get a broader perspective on themselves and their situation so that they can develop clearer goals.

Now, I stumbled on some research which affirmed the usefulness of the perspective change question. Noelia Vasquez and Roger Buehler found the visual perspective adopted in using positive mental imagery moderates its motivational impact. The authors tested their hypothesis that people feel more motivated to succeed on a future task when they visualize its successful completion from a third-person rather than a first-person perspective. Actions viewed from the third-person perspective are generally construed at a relatively high level of abstraction—in a manner that highlights their larger meaning and significance—which should heighten their motivational impact. Three studies in the domain of academic motivation support this reasoning. Students experience a greater increase in achievement motivation when they imagine their successful task completion from a third-rather than a first-person perspective. Moreover, mediational analyses reveal that third-person imagery boosts motivation by prompting students to construe their success abstractly and to perceive it as important.

2 comments:

  1. Hm, so the effectivness of the perspective change is increased level of abstraction in the sense of importance (meaning). This goes abit against by view that the first person image is more important than third person. I realise the thing is more complicated than it sems: what is projected? You can project "point of view" differently, for example "observer perspective" and "field perspective". The "third person" is the same as observer perspective". But "how would you'r wife notice", is not a spectial field perspective: it's a personal third person with significance. You Imagine not only how it would look, but unavoidably, what it would mean to your wife. That would increase the meaning even more, but it could also limit what you could imagine her see. She is not, after all, a third person. In SF, we also switch to another observer: "how would your kids notice that you and your wife is getting along".

    On the other hand, the field perspective (as you would see it with your own eyes) is linked to more emotional intensitity, more positive tone. This, I conjecture is that this perspetive is embodied, your point of view has the same relationship to interoception, proprioception, and the other senses as it has in lived life. The field of vision is placed within the field of experience.

    See Emily Holmes research on field perspective imagination: http://info.wlu.ca/~wwwpsych/rbuehler/Research/articles/vasquez.buehler.2007.pdf

    Imagining from your own field of experience, thus, should increase emotional tone, and sense of reality and viability. It also would activate the same perception/motor and memory areas that will by used in the future situation: prospective memory would probably be increased by field vision descriptions.

    The observer view, as the article says, could increase importance. Probably this view helps contextualise. I guess that you could increase this by relationship-type questions, and also by meaning-questions: "what about X would make is Y".

    Another aspect of perspective change is only inplicit and not often discussed: the direction of you nose in time. Imagining the future from here means you "imaginary direction nose" is pointing forward to the future. In miracle questions and suppose questions you project your whole field of vision to an imagined situation, your nose is poining forward from the future. But, importanly, your nose is also pointing backward to the "the problem has dissapeard behind your back". So you look "forward from the future", "look back", and naturally, you also have a field and observer perspective to THAT perspective


    In summary, imagining the possible is unbelievably complex and fascinating when you think about it: it's imagination within imagination and perspectives within perspectives.

    The great things about SF is the variety of perspectives we use in miracle-like and suppose questions. So both the research you mention and Holmes research fits perfectly well. (This means also that there are loads of possible research that could be done)

    Be well
    Michael

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  2. Hi Michael,
    Thanks.

    * so the effectivness of the perspective change is increased level of abstraction in the sense of importance (meaning). This goes abit against by view that the first person image is more important than third person."

    -> Good point. This is what the authors offer as an explanation. I would rather think that the effectiveness of perspective change has to do with increased sense of objectivity/reality. I notice clients see more aspects when they view through the eyes of the other. Also, like you say, it because easier to see the impact of your positive behavior on others. You can more easilyunderstand the advantages for them.

    * the field perspective (as you would see it with your own eyes) is linked to more emotional intensitity, more positive tone. This, I conjecture is that this perspetive is embodied. See Emily Holmes research on field perspective imagination: http://info.wlu.ca/~wwwpsych/rbuehler/Research/articles/vasquez.buehler.2007.pdf

    -> I think that is true. thanks for the reference to the article

    The observer view, as the article says, could increase importance. Probably this view helps contextualise. I guess that you could increase this by relationship-type questions, and also by meaning-questions: "what about X would make is Y".

    * nose-direction: So you look "forward from the future", "look back", and naturally, you also have a field and observer perspective to THAT perspective

    -> Indeed. this type of question is not often discussed but very helpful: "How did your colleague notice you handled that well?"

    * In summary, imagining the possible is unbelievably complex and fascinating. there are loads of possible research that could be done)

    -> exactly and there is also lots of research being done which is highly relevant. To add another example: http://www.springerlink.com/content/nm74w51h7j73339x/

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