Over 44,000 people took part in an experiment to discover what motivational techniques really worked. The participants were divided into 12 experimental groups and one control group.

In conjunction with BBC Lab UK, Professor Andrew Lane from University of Wolverhampton and colleagues tested which physiological skills would help people improve their scores in an online game.

The study examined if one motivational method would be more effective for any specific aspect of a task. The methods tested were self-talk, imagery, and if-then planning.

Each of these psychological skills was applied to one of four parts of a competitive task: process, outcome, arousal-control, and instruction, researchers said.

People using self-talk, for example telling yourself 'I can do better next time', performed better than the control group in every portion of the task.

The greatest improvements were seen in self-talk-outcome (telling yourself, "I can beat my best score"), self-talk-process (telling yourself, "I can react quicker this time"), imagery-outcome (imagining yourself playing the game and beating your best score), and imagery-process (imagining yourself playing and reacting quicker than last time).

Researchers also found a short motivational video could improve performance. Participants watched a short video before playing the online game.

'If-then' planning was found to be one of the least successful of this study, despite being an effective tool in weight management and other real life challenges, researchers said.

 

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