Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Golden Rule was RIGHT.

Once again, social psychology scores big with elegantly-designed research proving that you've been right all along.

This month's issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reports on a study that looks at what your description of others says about you. As you likely had already figured out, participants in the study who rated their peers positively (trustworthy, emotionally stable) reported greater life satisfaction, less depression, and better grades. On the other side, people who thought negatively of others were more likely to be disagreeable, antisocial and narcissistic.

Short, non-clinical version: if you're spending all your time going around saying what an asshole everyone is, you're probably an asshole.

I can't help but think of the behavioral implications of this research. After all, one of the things I get paid for is to help people change their behaviors. And, there seems to be a pretty strong message here that just happens to jibe completely with one of my core therapy philosophies. To whit: spend as much energy as you can in a constant attempt to put love into the world, as that love tends to come back to you when you need it the most. Science is backing me up! Describe your peers, your coworkers, your children, and complete strangers in the most positive, loving way possible, and you'll be seen as worthy of that love.

Scientific American provides a little summary of the research, just in case you don't subscribe to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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