Priming and Using it to Your Advantage
Imagine this scenario: You go out to the store in search of some candy or a late-night snack after a long study session. Twenty minutes later, you finally make your purchase. Suddenly, it hits you. To your disbelief, you realize that you have several bags full of food you didn’t intend to buy.
Well, you’ve fallen victim to the effects of priming.
What is Priming?
Priming is an implicit memory effect in which exposure to some kind of stimulus affects a future action. Basically, if something is introduced, one’s subconscious will cause them to behave or act differently as a response.
Allow me to give you an example:
In a 1996 study, after participants were primed with words associated with elderly stereotypes, researchers noticed that the primed participants moved much slower following the experiment.
Strange, right? What could have caused such a response?
Can words alone influence the behaviors of an individual?
Psychology Today refers to priming as a way of activating particular representations or associations in memory. The effect of priming can influence your brain and your perceptions in both positive and negative ways.
So, why do I mention this? What’s the relevance? I think the concept of priming is important to keep in mind because constantly, you, as a student, are being primed by yourself and by your external environment.
Your goals, motives, and even your esteem is influenced by priming.
Don’t believe me? Well, take a look at this example of priming directly in the classroom. In a study with African Americans, researchers noticed that those who were asked to designate their race before an exam scored significantly lower than those who didn’t designate their race.
The researchers concluded that the students who were forced to designate their race were primed by thoughts of the negative stereotypes associated with African Americans. As a result, the students embodied those beliefs and subsequently did poorly.
Now, while that’s specific to race, the same effect applies to any student that might be anything less than confident about their test taking abilities.
Ultimately, by understanding what’s at work, you can actively mitigate the negative effects caused by priming and actually use it to your advantage. No, this isn’t pseudoscience and this isn’t some kind of mystical mumbo-jumbo. This is psychology.
Use Priming to Your Advantage
With that being said, how can you implement the positive effects of priming right away? Allow me to give you a few quick methods of priming that you can implement TODAY in order to use your psychology to your advantage.
Great Books Make Great Primers
Use the mistakes, successes, and beliefs of others to help form a positive foundation. I’d recommend grabbing some books by successful individuals to compare their struggles and triumphs. Personally, I’d say that you should seek out individuals that are most similar to you.
For example, if you’re heavily into technology, I’d recommend picking up a book on Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. If you don’t know where to start, I’d like to suggest purchasing the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Individuals by Stephen Covey. He provides and outlines seven key, actionable traits that influential leaders practice and embody in their lives. You can purchase the book using the link below.
Surround Yourself with Great People
There’s an amazing quote by Jim Rohn, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. Those who are in your inner circle affect your behaviors more than you might realize.
Often, people believe that they choose their friends based on similarities. Don’t get me wrong, there is some definitive truth to that. However, you also take things away from experiences with your friends. For example, if you made friends through similar music tastes but find that they are also super into sports, chances are you’ll also begin to become more interested in sports and adapt their habits.
The takeaway point is to actively make friends with people who are doing positive things. Who should you search for? Well, start with students who frequently have good grades, are constantly getting involved, and consistently challenge themselves to do bigger things.
Choose your Wardrobe Wisely
You’ve probably heard of the idea that the clothes don’t make the person, but rather the person defines him/herself. While this is certainly true, the clothing one wears has been shown to definitely affect their behavior and perception of others.
Various studies have shown that those who wear clothing associated with power and status, like a suit and tie, have displayed more confident body language. Furthermore, it has been shown that these individuals are likely to exude power and act with more independence.
While you certainly don’t need to wear a suit 24/7, it can be helpful to dress appropriately if you find yourself feeling less confident.
Prime your Mind with Great Quotes
Similar to the first suggestion, a great quote can inspire and foster a sense of motivation. Personally, whenever I find myself nervous about a new scenario I think about the quote by Lao Tzu, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.
Believe me, it helps a lot!
There’s a certain sense of empowerment knowing that others have been in a similar situation and can provide some insight to help you out. I personally refer to quotes often for motivation and encouragement.
If you don’t know where to start, I highly recommend checking out and following the CollegeConqueror Instagram account (@collegeconqueror1) and Facebook page where there are numerous motivational quotes and pictures to help keep your going. You can also join the discussion board to talk about interesting topics.
Collectively, all of these ideas are meant to give you self-confidence in your perspectives and outlooks which are key components to affect positive priming. I highly encourage you to give it a try for a few days and see how it works. I personally use priming daily and I’ve noticed extreme benefits to my daily life, self-perception, and overall productivity. If you want to learn more about priming, be sure to check out some of the resources below for additional reading.
Did you enjoy the article? If so, please do me a favor and click one of the share buttons on the left-hand side. Every share helps and you’ll allow another to benefit as well from this information. As usual, I wanted to thank you for taking the time to read this and as usual, stay positive!
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