Mood

As shown by American scientists, the belief that a person works with his strengths significantly affects the success of the regulation of mood.

In psychology, there are several approaches to how you can try to improve a bad mood and cope with unpleasant emotions. These include cognitive techniques and mindfulness meditation techniques. However, only some of them have been scientifically proven to be effective.

Scientists conducted an experiment to select the most effective techniques

Scientists from Ohio University conducted an experiment to ascertain which of these techniques are most effective. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

The participants were 616 students who were introduced to two basic approaches — cognitive techniques and mindfulness meditation — for regulating mood. Using the cognitive approach involved identifying and re-evaluating negative thoughts and beliefs.

Mindfulness meditation was defined as awareness and acceptance of one’s thoughts and feelings without attempting to change them. All participants were presented with a hypothetical situation in which they could apply their skills: they were asked to imagine that a friend had not invited them to a holiday they would have liked to attend. After assessing how the subjects cope with this «problem,» the scientists reported to each (choosing at random) that one of the two mood regulation skills they have well developed, and the other — poorly.

In the main part of the assignment, volunteers had to imagine that a loved one was dying and additionally listened to Prokofiev’s cantata «Alexander Nevsky,» which exacerbated the sad atmosphere. As expected, this led to a significant worsening of the mood of all participants in the experiment.

The rate of improvement in mood did not appear to depend on which method was used — cognitive technique or mindfulness meditation. However, it did affect whether or not the volunteers were told that it was a well-developed skill in their particular case. This helped them think they were working with their strengths rather than their weaknesses.

What is the significance of the new study’s findings? 

For years, psychotherapists have sought to correct what has been bothering their clients. In recent years, the approach of focusing on a patient’s strengths and using them to help them cope has become more common. But it has remained a mystery to researchers how focusing on strengths helps. 

Presumably, if this initial encouragement — that people are really good at a particular strategy — emerges early on, you can instill more confidence and persistence in using that skill and get better results as a result.

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