Medical Advice

Why are We Afraid?

In some of the cases it is very easy, or at least easier to give a speech, or to ask someone on a date, or perform before a group, when the audience does not know what is about to happen. The reason for that is the “illusion of courage” effect, which people experience when they predict the way in which they will behave in an embarrassing situation.

The situation was analyzed by a group of researchers, who wanted to determine the difference between prediction and behavior, and to find ways of reducing the difference.

Prediction Can Influence Performance Anxiety

The researchers discovered that when students observed scary of movie clips which induced anger, they were less likely to get in front of a group and do something: such as dancing in front of them, or telling them a joke.

The researchers stated that when people predict the way in which they would behave in an embarrassing situation, they are less anxious than if they would be immediately placed in an embarrassing situation. Because of this, people have difficulties estimating just how powerful social anxiety is in an immediate embarrassing situation.

Students, who participated to the experiment, were asked to see a scary clip from the movie “The Shining”. In five days they had to tell a joke in front of a group.

Why are We Afraid?

Why are We Afraid?

It seems that the majority of the ones who saw the clip expressed their unwillingness to perform in front of the group, whereas the large majority of the ones, who didn’t see it, were fine with it. When the date arrived, the majority of the ones who didn’t see the clip, backed out.

Aerobic Exercises Reduce Anxiety Levels

In the second experiment, people were asked to see a scary and anger-inducing clip from the movie “Cry Freedom”. Many of the ones, who saw it, declined the offer to dance in front of an audience in exchange for $2. Some who were willing to do it, asked for more money.

Researchers discovered that aerobic exercises reduce anxiety levels, and as a result, soon after a training session, people are more willing to say yes, because they are not affected by fear.

The research was conducted by a group of scientists from the University of Colorado at Boulder, Carnegie Mellon University and Cornell University. The researchers are skeptical about the effects of the movies on the participants’ courage.

Researchers stated that when one experiences negative emotions, he is more accurate when it comes to predicting the way in which he will behave in an embarrassing situation.

The same principle can be applied in numerous instances: people who do not feel pain for the moment, are more willing to expose themselves to pain. People, who have just eaten, are less likely to eat high calorie foods in the future. People, who do not feel the need to smoke, underestimate their future need for a smoke in the future.

It seems that in order to be able to predict the difference with a higher accuracy, one needs to feel a negative emotion.

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