Jason Kottke with an epic blog-summation: better living through self deception. It’s all about the secret power of, er, just thinking. Keyed to an NYT article along similar lines. Credit to Point of Note for being my first source on that one.
I think this idea is also interesting when considered in the context of another NYT article I highlighted on the blog a while back, “What it Takes to Make a Student” by Paul Tough:
Here’s the relevant section:
The average I.Q. among the professional children was 117, and the welfare children had an average I.Q. of 79…
What’s more, the kinds of words and statements that children heard varied by class. The most basic difference was in the number of ”discouragements” a child heard — prohibitions and words of disapproval — compared with the number of encouragements, or words of praise and approval. By age 3, the average child of a professional heard about 500,000 encouragements and 80,000 discouragements. For the welfare children, the situation was reversed: they heard, on average, about 75,000 encouragements and 200,000 discouragements…
Hart and Risley showed that language exposure in early childhood correlated strongly with I.Q. and academic success later on in a child’s life. Hearing fewer words, and a lot of prohibitions and discouragements, had a negative effect on I.Q.; hearing lots of words, and more affirmations and complex sentences, had a positive effect on I.Q. The professional parents were giving their children an advantage with every word they spoke, and the advantage just kept building up.
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