When we’ve got a big event, or test coming up, it’s natural to put pressure on ourselves.But it’s counterproductive to constantly remind ourselves that what we’re doing is really important.
In fact, putting too much significance on any single event poses a psychological threat, according to a study published in Science led by Stanford University professor Geoffrey Cohen.
The study, “Reducing the Racial Achievement Gap: A Social-Psychological Intervention,” was originally about race. But Cohen and the other authors found some interesting universal findings. The researchers conducted a “social-psychological intervention” by asking a group of students to complete an in-class assignment where they wrote about something they valued. According to Time,
“This brief writing assignment significantly improved the grades of African-American students, and reduced the racial achievement gap by 40 per cent. Why? The exercise affirmed students’ “self-integrity,” Cohen explains, buttressing their self-worth and alleviating the stress they felt about being evaluated. Cohen and another group of co-authors investigated whether a similar approach would help female college students taking an introductory physics course who might be feeling vulnerable to negative messages about women in science. Once again, students chose their most cherished values from a list and then wrote about why these values were important to them.”
The key takeaway, the authors found, is that you’ve got to put less pressure on yourself, and keep perspective. The trick with conquering a big presentation is viewing it as insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But that’s easier said than done.
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