Scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder and Carnegie Mellon University have proposed a theory to explain why we often feel we are willing to take on an embarrassing task, only to change our minds when the time comes to perform it. The research team believes that these mistaken predictions are made because when we are initially presented with the task, we are not affected by the social anxiety that arises at the time of the task. Their study showed that participants initially overestimated their willingness to complete embarrassing tasks in exchange for pay. Later, when anxiety-related negative emotions were invoked during self-prediction, fewer were willing to take on their tasks. This reaction occurred because the participants were more “in touch” with the emotions they believed they would feel when it came down to carrying out the task. Knowledge of this “illusion of courage” can be beneficial since individuals may use this passing feeling of bravery to commit to difficult tasks.
Published: 1:26 am, 30 January 2012
Modified: 1:28 am, 30 January 2012