Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation

Author(s): Gabriele Oettingen (New York University)

Popular Science

The surprising evidence about the complexity of positive thinking -- and what really works to get us motivated. Based on her twenty years of scientific research into motivation, Gabriele Oettingen argues that the common advice to "think positively" impedes our progress toward our most important goals. It turns out that the pleasure of having positive fantasies about the future saps our energy to perform the hard work of meeting challenges. We enjoy our dreams rather than taking action toward making them real. A better approach is what Oettingen calls "mental contrasting" in which we still dream about the future, but also visualize the barriers that stand in our way. Adding an element of realism makes all the difference. In rigorous studies, people who tried mental contrasting became more motivated to quit smoking, lose weight, get better grades, sustain healthier relationships, and negotiate more effectively at work. Leading readers through a journey of scientific exploration, this book shows why we should rethink one of the most cherished tenets of modern psychology.


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Gabriele Oettingen is a professor of psychology at New York University, and the author of more than 100 articles and book chapters on the effects of future thought on cognition, emotion, and behavior.

General Fields

  • : 9781591846871
  • : Penguin Putnam Inc
  • : Current
  • : November 2014
  • : United States
  • : December 2014
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Gabriele Oettingen (New York University)
  • : Hardback
  • : 240