How To Discover Your True Passion With Visualisation

Pre-existing beliefs can stop people finding their true passion, research finds.

Pre-existing beliefs can stop people finding their true passion, research finds.

Visualising activities done in the past can help people find their true passion, a study finds.

However, it is critical to do this visualisation in the first person to avoid biases.

When thinking back, it is important to imagine what you saw, heard, felt and thought from your own perspective.

The key is to re-think, re-feel and re-hear exactly what you previously experienced.

Only then can you get a clue to your true passions.

Unfortunately, memories of pleasure and satisfaction are easily blocked by pre-existing beliefs, explained¬†Mr Zachary Niese, the study’s first author:

“When we are developing our interests and looking back on our memories, I don’t think we realize how biased we can be by our pre-existing beliefs.

People think they know themselves and know if they liked something or not, but often they can be misled by their own thoughts.”

For example, a young girl might enjoy a science summer camp at the time.

However, this positive memory can be blocked by a belief that “science is not for girls”.

In other words, stereotypes can hold people back from their passions.

First-person visualisations, though, can help side-step this bias, the researchers found.

Dr Lisa Libby, study co-author, said:

“We can use imagery as a tool to tap into our memories and more accurately identify what our actual experiences are instead of relying on our old beliefs.

People sometimes have experiences that are inconsistent with what they think about themselves.

We may think we don’t like math, so if we enjoy a math class, that doesn’t fit in with our view of ourselves, so we dismiss that positive experience.

That’s what using first-person visual imagery helps overcome.”

For one of the studies in the research, 253 women took part in an experiment that tested their interest and enjoyment of science.

The results showed that women’s pre-existing beliefs about how interesting science is determined their experience.

In fact, at the time, many enjoyed a science-based game they were asked to play.

However, they couldn’t remember enjoying it afterwards because their pre-existing beliefs blocked the memory.

To unlock the memory of enjoyment, they had to use first-person imagery.

Mr Niese said:

“Part of what is so interesting and surprising about our study is that a simple manipulation — just the way people think about a past event — is changing their conclusions about what they’re doing and whether they’re interested or not.

It’s something people could do on their own if they wanted to and gain these benefits in situations where cultural stereotypes or pre-existing beliefs might be likely to bias their judgment or cloud their memories.”

The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General (Niese et al., 2019).

Author: Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book "Making Habits, Breaking Habits" (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks.

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