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Sandi comments on Open thread, March 13 - March 19, 2017 - Less Wrong

2 Post author: Elo 13 March 2017 03:46AM

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Comment author: Sandi 15 March 2017 10:28:23PM *  0 points [-]

I have two straight-forward empirical questions for which I was unable to find a definitive answer.

1) Does ego depletion exist? There was a recent meta-study that found a negligible effect, but the result is disputed.

2) Does visualizing the positive outcome of a endeavor help one achieve it? There are many popular articles confirming this, but I've found no studies in either direction. My prediction is no, it doesn't, since the mind would feel like it already reached the goal after visualizing it, so no action would be taken. It has been like this in my personal experience, although inferring from personal experience is incredibly unreliable.

Comment author: gjm 15 March 2017 11:11:04PM 3 points [-]

On #2, I've seen it claimed -- but have no idea how good the science behind it is -- that better than visualizing positive or negative outcomes alone is doing both and paying attention to the contrast. "If I do X, then the result will look like Y. If I don't do X, the result will look like Z. Wow, Y is much better than Z: better get on with doing X".

Comment author: Unnamed 15 March 2017 11:40:48PM 3 points [-]

The keyword for that research is mental contrasting. It was previously discussed on LW here.

My impression is that the quality of the science is relatively good, compared to other psychology research that was done in 2000-2012. But as far as I know it has not yet been tested with the improved research methods that have come out of the replication crisis (e.g., I don't know of any large sample size, preregistered studies of mental contrasting).

Comment author: Sjcs 16 March 2017 09:00:52AM 0 points [-]

As a bit of a tangent to 2)

Certainly using visualisation as practice has some evidence (especially high-fidelity visualisation increasing performance at comparable rates to actual practice; one course I've been to advocated for the PETLEPP model in the context of medical procedures/simulation) - in this sense it may help achieving an endeavor but 1. It's got nothing (much) to do with positive visualisation and 2. It feels like its moving the goal-posts by interpreting the 'endeavor' as 'performing better'.

I've definitely also heard people discussing positive and negative visualisation as tools for emotional stabilisation and motivation - although the more persuasive (read: not sounding like new age/low brow self help BS) usually favour using both together or just negative visualisation - see gjm's and Unnamed's posts

Comment author: MrMind 16 March 2017 08:50:37AM 0 points [-]

1) We still don't know yet. If we are not observing some statistical noise, then it's possible that it's either bimodal (some have it, some don't) or it has a very weak effect.

2) Visualizing only the positive outcome, as far as I know, doesn't work. There's an interesting book about it: Rethinking positive thinking, by G. Oettingen. I've only skimmed it though, and I don't know how sound are the citations.

Comment author: Elo 16 March 2017 03:14:40AM 0 points [-]
  1. we don't know either way. It seems that believing it exists causes your ego to be depleted though.

  2. it probably relates to the original context in which you do the visualisation. You have given one example of a context where conflicting results might come out, there are several similar situations, so it's hard to know. I would feel safe saying that it seems to work some of the time for some people.