No one likes job interviews. But knowing you’re prepared walking into a job interview is a great feeling. But that feeling of preparedness may not just make a difference in the interview room, but in other areas of life.
A recent study found that feeling prepared in one area of life might also bring you a newfound sense of confidence in other areas.
In three studies from The Ohio State University at Lima, researchers found that if a person felt prepared in one area, it made them more confident in their belief in an area of their life that was completely different. That held true regardless of whether that belief was positive or negative.
“Across studies, we hypothesized and showed that different preparedness inductions would enhance reliance upon thoughts in attitudes within an unrelated domain, regardless of whether the thoughts were positive or negative,” Patrick Carroll, lead author of the study and an Associate Professor of psychology at The Ohio State University at Lima told Theravive.
“We expected and showed that confidence would mediate or translate the effect of these preparedness inductions on attitudes in the unrelated domain.”
In one of the studies, the researchers enlisted 80 college students. The students were asked to read a university proposal for research funding into genetically modified foods.
“The proposal listed major benefits of genetically modified foods, including environmental protection and crop growth. They were then asked to list the three positive or three negative thoughts about the proposal,” Carroll explained.
The participants were then told they would be proceeding to a second study that focused on self-presentation in interpersonal attraction. The participants were asked to list their greatest strength, weakness and their most important goal in life. The participants were told that their profile would be seen by a student of the opposite sex in the next room, who would give feedback on their profile and reveal whether they would be interested in meeting the person behind the profile at a later time. In reality, there was no person in the next room.
Once participants had completed their profiles, they received messages quickly that said the student in the next room had already evaluated their profile. Half of the students were told an early response didn’t mean anything with respect to the evaluation of their profile, while the other students were told an early response likely meant a worse view of their profile.
Carroll said that the students who were given a warning that they were likely to receive a negative evaluation were able to prepare for it.
After this, all participants in the study were asked what they thought about the proposal on genetically modified food.
The researchers found that students who prepared for bad news in experiment two had a different reaction to the genetically modified food proposal than their peers who didn’t have to prepare for bad news.
If a participant had positive thoughts earlier in the study, those who were prepared were more positive towards the research than those who didn’t prepare. If a participant had negative views earlier in the study, those who were prepared had a more negative than those who weren’t prepared.
Being prepared didn’t change people’s views on the proposal on genetically modified foods, but it validated thoughts participants already had and made them more confident.
Those who had prepared for bad news said they were more confident in their view on the proposal, compared with their peers who didn’t prepare for bad news.
“This work has shown that many different experiences can influence confidence and, in turn, the extent to which people rely upon their thoughts when expressing the related attitude, including feelings of power, fluency (or feelings of ease), and happiness just to name a few,” Carroll told Theravive.
“This work has shown that the effects of confidence induced by these experiences are not limited to the domain in which they were induced. For example, inductions of power in one area (e.g., classwork) can enhance thought reliance in one’s attitudes on a completely unrelated issue (mandatory vaccinations). In this investigation, we tested whether feelings of preparedness may represent an additional experience that enhances feelings of confidence and, in turn, reliance upon thoughts in guiding attitudes,” he said.
The research could have important ramifications for those experiencing feelings of low self-worth.
“Given preparedness effects occurred across positive and negative conditions, this work has potentially paradoxical implications for dealing with people who have low self-worth. Although confidence in one’s self-views is typically construed as a good thing, it is only the case if one self-views are positive,” Carroll said.
“However, for individuals with low (vs. high) self-esteem, our findings suggest that it would more beneficial to induce feelings of “non-preparedness” so they do not trust and act on their negative self-evaluations.”
Elizabeth Pratt is a medical journalist and producer. Her work has appeared on Healthline, The Huffington Post, Fox News, The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The Sydney Morning Herald, News.com.au, Escape, The Cusp and Skyscanner. You can read more of her articles here. Or learn more about Elizabeth and contact her via her LinkedIn and Twitter profiles.