Thinking ‘I can do better’ can boost performance

Finding it difficult to complete a task? If so, speaking to yourself that “I can do better” can improve your performance, new research says.

The findings showed that people using self-talk, like telling oneself “I can do better next time” – performed better than the control group in every portion of the task.

The greatest improvements were seen in self-talk-outcome (telling yourself, “I can beat my best score”), self-talk-process (telling yourself, “I can react quicker this time”), imagery-outcome (imagining yourself playing the game and beating your best score) and imagery-process (imagining yourself playing and reacting quicker than last time).

The study, which examined if one motivational method would be more effective for any specific aspect of a task, tested over 44,000 people to discover which physiological skills would help people improve their scores in an online game.

The methods tested were self-talk, imagery and if-then planning. Each of these psychological skills was applied to one of four parts of a competitive task: process, outcome, arousal-control, and instruction.

If-then planning was found to be one of the least successful of this study, despite being an effective tool in weight management and other real life challenges.

Online interventions that focus on increasing motivation, increased arousal, effort invested, and pleasant emotions were the most effective, said Andrew M. Lane, Professor at University of Wolverhampton in Britain.

Further, watching a short motivational video was also found to improve performance.