An interesting study found that people who were asked the question: “How important is it to you to be a voter in the upcoming election?” were more likely to vote than people who were asked, “How important is it to you to vote in the upcoming election?”
How could a small change in wording make a big difference in voter turnout?
The researchers theorize that viewing voting as part of your identity (e.g., “I am a voter”), rather than a behavior to be enacted, increased motivation to vote. The study concluded that people want to be consistent with their values and sense of self.
Along these lines, a study found that kids who think of themselves as “carrot eaters” liked carrots more than kids who said, “I eat carrots whenever I can.” Adults who described themselves as “book-readers” rated their own preference for reading as stronger and more stable than those who said, “I read books a lot.”
Language can motivate behavior. Using a noun to describe yourself and that connects to your sense of self seems to have more power than using a related verb that describes something you do. So if you want to engage in a behavior, make it an extension of who you are. Saying, “I am a healthy eater” will likely help you make better choices than saying, “I am someone who eats healthy.”
Parents, keep this in mind when talking to your kids. Thank your child for being “a helper around the house” as opposed to, “helping around the house.” I tell my kids they are “dog-walkers”, not “kids who walk dogs.” 🙂