Affirmations help stressed students solve difficult problems

Self-affirmation makes problem-solving skills better

Young man thinking hard in front of a computerUsually when we go into a flash of anger or short-lived stress incident, we can usually calm down by long breaths and saying to ourself “cool down”. And usually we manage to get the stressful condition under control. However whether self-affirmations help those under long-term stress has not been studied.

A new study explored the effect chronic stress has on the ability to solve problems and how much of a help self affirmations can be to such individuals.

The research team picked 80 students who indicated they were undergoing long-term stress. Some of them were randomly assigned to do self-affirmations. All of them were then asked to solve some very difficult problems in front of an evaluator in a specified period of time. The presence of the evaluator and the time limits were designed to induce stress. In such a high-pressure situation, those who had undergone self-affirmations were able to solve the problems where as those did not had a tough time.

The study proves that self-affirmation improves problem-solving capability in under-performing chronically stressed individuals. It shows how chronic stress impairs problem-solving performance skills and how self-affirmation boosts problem-solving performance even under pressure.

The authors conclude, "A brief self-affirmation activity is sufficient to buffer the negative effects of chronic stress on task performance and can improve the ability to solve problems in a flexible manner during high stress periods. Our study suggests that self-affirmation may increase creativity and insight in stressed individuals.”

These findings are significant for self-affirmation research and educational interventions.

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