How much do you love your significant other?
Tell me 10 reasons why
"How much do you love your significant other?" It's a deeply personal question. No one really knows the answer but you.
But here's the thing. Can a strange change your mind about how much you love your significant by asking just one neutral question? Let's take a look at some examples.
Let's split everyone up into 2 groups.
For the first group, we ask: write down 3 reasons why you love your significant other.
For the second group, we ask: write down 10 reasons why you love your significant other.
Having answered that first question, we then ask everyone the second question - the one we want to find out: how much do you love you significant other.
Now you would expect fairly similar scores between Groups A and B - who are both randomly selected, and of the experiment is repeated many times over with different Groups A and B.
But the answer is always the same. Group A always scores higher than Group B on average.
And there is a reason for this. Most of us can easily come up with 3 reasons we love our significant other. And coming with these 3 reasons affirms our love: we love this person and as you can see, we can easily explain why.
Think about what happened with the 10 reasons group. It's hard to come up with 10 reasons for anything on the spot. People find it increasingly difficult to think of the next reason, and the next reason, until you get to 10 reasons. The realisation that it's quite difficult to think of 10 reasons, and the increasing difficulty in thinking as you try to think of your next reason causes you to second-guess yourself, it creates doubt in your mind.
And this really reaffirms a theme that is continually presented across these pages. We all believe we are making every decision consciously and deliberately. But in truth, what happens is that many things are affecting ou decision making and thought process all the time. Even a seemingly innocuous question about a deeply personal issue can cause us to change our minds, even though nothing in reality has changed at all.
Think about how people can be manipulated just by the question asked:
Consider the 2 scenarios above.
If your significant other wants to buy something which you disagree with, can you change his/her mind just by asking the right question? What if you were conducting a course and you wanted good reviews scores? Again, nothing in reality changes, but the question change our perception of reality?
One final example:
Let's say you ask a group of people how many times they floss.
But with one variable - the time of measure. For some people, you ask them how many times you floss a day, and for others, you ask them how many times they floss a month. Everything else it the same.
For almost everyone in the first group, their answers will be on the left side of the scale. No one glosses 9 times a day (I hope!)
For almost everyone in the second group who do floss, their answers will be on the right side of the scale.
This seems pretty obvious and straightforward, but this also affects our perception of whether to see a dentist. The first group, because of where their answer lies on the scale, are more inclined to feel below the norm. The second group on the other hand, because of where their answers lie on the scale, are more inclined to feel better than the norm.
And this perception that influences how we assess ourselves, even though, as you are probably already repeating in your head - nothing, in reality, has changed.