Posted in Psychology, Relations

Polar bear effect

To the history of the world’s psychology polar bear came through Russian classics Leo Tolstoy – or rather, his elder brother. The future writer lived with his brothers at Yasnaya Polyana. There’s the boy created a secret “aunts brotherhood”, one of whose objectives was to do so, “so that people did not know any misfortunes, never quarreled, and do not be angry, and would be constantly happy.” To achieve the goal it was necessary every day to carry out certain tasks, the most difficult of which invented the eldest brother, Nicholas. He decided that for the happiness we must stay in a corner and did not think about a white bear. “I remember … I tried, but could not help but think of a white bear …” – write many years later Leo Tolstoy in “Memoirs.”

Much later, in the 80s, the story caught the attention of the American social psychologist Daniel Wegner. He gave the same task to the students. Despite clear instructions, participants of experiment not just barely suppressed thoughts of the forbidden white bear: his image pop up in their mind with obsessive frequency.”The effect of the polar bear” (also called “boomerang effect” and “effect of ironic process”) is perfectly applicable to human relations. After parting with a person important to you, we make a conscious decision to avoid thinking about him (her). But in the end we are more hung up on him.


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