This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 9th, 2008 at 7:10 pm and is filed under All Posts, Family and Parenthood, Usability and Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
If you’ve read this blog before, then you know that my favorite thing about words is how the sound, overt meaning, implied meaning, personal use history and spelling all work together to create an experience of a word, something I celebrate from time to time with “Word of the Day”.
One of the things that I love about words is the way they not only provide a window on our thoughts, they can actually shape our thoughts. There are startling uses of this (hypnotism, suggestion), and controlling uses (advertising, propaganda), of course.
But there’s another commonplace use of words that really intrigues me: the use of internal conversation to influence emotional response. In psychology this power is used to “reframe”, to intentionally use words to encourage one’s attitude to a situation (”How will eating this donut help me with my diet?” instead of “But I want it so badly!”).
It seems to me that inner-conversation has the power to put the rational or logical part of our thinking in control over the emotional or irrational reactions. This is a mighty weapon, and an underused one.
Lately, I’ve seen a number of studies demonstrating the power of inner conversation, for better and for worse. For example, talking about an experience soon after it occurs tends to blunt or dull the emotional reaction to it — thus negative experiences are felt less awfully if you speak (or write) them out, but positive experiences lose their sharpness similarly.
Is the effect of immediate verbalization on event memory (people are more liable to remember an event incorrectly when they speak about it soon after it occurs) related to the emotional blunting? Or is this completely different?
Does reliance on menuing systems for mobile operating system functions contain within itself the seeds of emotional distance and reduced learning capacity? (More on this to come…) Ouch.