I Know What You Will Do Next Summer – Imagery Perspective Does Influence Your Motivation
Students, athletes and performing artists are often advised to imagine themselves performing successfully. That strategy is believed to motivate them for future exams, games, and shows. But is that motivation influenced by what perspective they take when imagining their performance?
The three studies explored in the article looked at two ways to visualize future performances — first person (watching oneself through one’s own eyes) and third person (watching oneself from the perspective of another person).
The authors, Noelia A. Vasquez, at York University (Canada) and Roger Buehler, at Wilfrid Laurier University (Canada), found that the third person perspective resulted in greater motivation to succeed at the task, especially when people imagined themselves performing well. The increased third person perspective appears to assign greater meaning to the task.
“Mental imagery is commonly used as a preparation strategy in a wide range of performance domains (school, sports, performing arts, public speaking, licensure exams — as well less ‘institutionalized’ future performances, such as bringing up a difficult issue with a boss, or resisting temptations such as food or cigarettes),” commented the authors. “These studies suggest that if someone needs a motivational boost to prepare, they may be well advised to envision themselves from the perspective of their audience.”
Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2007 Oct;33(10):1392-405.
Department of Psychology, York University, Toronto, Canada. firstname.lastname@example.org
Imagining future success can sometimes enhance people’s motivation to achieve it. This article examines a phenomenological aspect of positive mental imagery–the visual perspective adopted–that may moderate its motivational impact. The authors hypothesize 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