An earlier post discussed how affirmations increase activity in "goal-achievement" areas of the brain. Now, a new study shows that value affirmations help your brain make wiser choices.
The catalyst for the study was a common observation:
Those who need to change their behavior to become healthy are often the least open to hearing that feedback from others.
The researchers suspected that if one affirmed his or her core values, he or she would be less defensive hearing such messages.
To investigate, researchers used fMRI scans to examine neural processes associated with this scenario. They focused their attention on activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex - which is associated with self-related processing and positive valuation. As expected, those that self-affirmed produced more activity in that region. After, the subjects modified their behavior for a healthier lifestyle as predicted.
This suggests that when you're faced with a challenge, focusing on your inner core values related to the situation helps your brain to reach the outcome you desire.
Self-affirmation alters the brain's response to health messages and subsequent behavior change. Falk EB, O'Donnell MB, Cascio CN, Tinney F, Kang Y, Lieberman MD, Taylor SE, An L, Resnicow K, Strecher VJ.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Feb 17;112(7):1977-82.