Conviction makes reality ~ Brand Mix

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Conviction makes reality

An extraordinary piece on NPR today about the power of the placebo effect. Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer conducted a study to see whether just a person's perception of how much exercise they were doing could impact actual results of how their body looked.

She chose, as her research group, hotel maids who spend most of their day engaged in physical activity but who didn't think of themselves as exercising. She divided these maids into two groups, telling one group that their hotel work met the surgeon general's definition of an active lifestlye. The other group wasn't given any information.

One month later she analyzed the two groups and found that the group that now believed they were involved in an active lifestlye had significant, measurable differences in their physical appearance and other key measures, such as a 10% drop in blood pressure.

Just believing that what they were doing was physical activity was enough to create these changes even though their actual activity hadn't changed. It shows that the power of conviction can be strong enough to make reality.

It's also a strong validation of brand engagement principles. The more that employees believe that they are the critical to the company's success and understand what's "on-brand," the more potential they have to deliver a powerful competitive advantage.

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