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Desire May Skew Reality

Desire May Skew Reality A new report suggests wanting something badly can cause us to change reality to fit our perceptions.

Reporting in the journal Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, scientists Emily Balcetis and David Dunning conducted a set of studies to see how our desires affect perception.

In the first experiment, participants had to estimate how far a water bottle was from where they were sitting. Half of the volunteers were allowed to drink water before the experiment, while the others ate salty pretzels, thus becoming very thirsty.

The results showed that the thirsty volunteers estimated the water as being closer to them than volunteers who drank water earlier.

The authors also studied how desire may change the way we frame a goal resulting in behavioral change. For this study, volunteers tossed a beanbag toward a gift card (worth either $25 or $0) on the floor, winning the card if the beanbag landed on it.

Interestingly, the volunteers threw the beanbag much farther if the gift card was worth $0 than if it was worth $25 — that is, they underthrew the beanbag when attempting to win a $25 gift card, because they viewed that gift card as being closer to them.

These findings indicate that when we want something, we actually view it as being physically close to us.

The authors suggest that “these biases arise in order to encourage perceivers to engage in behaviors leading to the acquisition of the object.”

In other words, when we see a goal as being close to us (literally within our reach), it motivates us to keep on going to successfully attain it.

Source: Association for Psychological Science

Desire May Skew Reality

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Desire May Skew Reality. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 26, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/01/18/desire-may-skew-reality/10805.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.