Switch- Finding the Feeling: Motivation to Change Part 3

June 25, 2011

Change, Personal Growth

How many times do we concentrate on strategies, data, structure, logic, etc to get others to change?  Most of us follow this formula: Analyze-Think-Change. We use it to try to change ourselves too. Sometimes we use scare tactics to try to get people to feel fear and then change, but does it work? Research shows that 85% of people who are told to quit smoking, stop eating certain foods, and other behaviors that will KILL them…. do not change. It seems that we can not fight inertia and resistance with logic.

If we think of our change switch as a big elephant, it might help us realize that our minds (the rider) can not do a whole lot to guide or motivate that elephant to go where it doesn’t want to go. (I remember eating a bowl of my favorite icecream while reading diet books.)

A more accurate change formula is See-Feel-Change. I love this example fromSwitch:

Teens returning home from a bout of cancer had to take medication daily.  This medication (antibiotics and a low dose of chemotherapy) had some unpleasant side effects, but if the teen did take it, their risk of cancer reoccurance was lowered by 200%! Many teens did not take the meds. Pam Omidyar from HopeLab was convinced that the teens did not understand the message. They built a video game called Re-Mission where the teens became, “Roxxi, a silver-suited nanobot who charged through the bloodstream zapping tumor cells with electric-green chemo-rays.”  Briefing videos from Smitty, a mentor robot, were included to provide the education that Omidyar believed was needed.

It worked.  Teens who played the game took their medication 20% more often…which makes a big difference in cancer reoccurance. However, researchers discovered that most teens only played a few of the 20 levels of the game.  Only a few levels of game playing made the same difference in the teen’s behavior as those who played all twenty.  Clearly it was not all the education from Smitty, the mentor robot that made the difference.

So what was it?  What about the game made the teens take their medication more? Identity. The game changed the way the teens saw themselves. Teens in the hospital with cancer identify with being the “sick kid”.  Taking medication is for “sick kids”.  And they no longer wanted to be the “sick kid”.  Having power to defeat cancer cells gave the teens the feelingthat they could defeat sickness. They had the power to be healthy.  They now identified with the healthy kid and could take control of their health and life.

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