Think back to last year, how far did you get before completely abandoning the 2015 New Year’s Resolution you were so adamant to keep? Don’t worry; it really is a struggle to commit to a change in behavior and lifestyle. New research says, however, that there might be a trick to it.
The trick, according to the study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, is to state your resolution in question form as opposed to statement form. For example, “I will be a more patient parent” becomes “Will I be a more patient parent?”
When stated in a question form, the responder will be more likely to remember his or her commitment to the resolution, says the study. You catch yourself, for example, with the urge to snap at your child for being too noisy while he plays. It’s more likely that you’ll remember to keep your cool if you asked yourself “Will I lessen the yelling this year?” than stating “I will lessen the yelling this year” as your New Year’s resolution.
The question can also give the responder a feeling of discomfort whenever he or she answers with a “no” thereby making a positive response more likely. In essence, you will be giving yourself a guilt-trip; all for a good cause, of course.
All of this is called the “question-behavior effect.” It is “a phenomenon in which asking people about performing a certain behavior influences whether they do it in the future,” says the press release for the study. The effects of which can last for more than six months!
The study involved analyzing more than 100 studies on the question-behavior effect, spanning 40 years of research. “We found the effect is strongest when questions are used to encourage behavior with personal and socially accepted norms, such as eating healthy foods or volunteering,” said Eric R. Spangenberg, first author and dean of the Paul Merage School of Business, University of California.