The February issue of Scientific American’s Mind magazine has an interesting news article about identity and behaviour. New research suggests that cloaking oneself in a new identity – even for only a few minutes – can disrupt long-established patterns of behaviour. To conduct the study, psychologists entered the online gaming world and developed new ‘avatar’ identities for volunteer ‘players’ and then got them to do maths tests. From a mix of male and female participants those given a female identity and who competed against two males performed worse and gave up quicker than did those assigned male identities and whose opponents were female. However the subjects’ real genders did not affect their scores!
Whilst the news item does not elaborate the specifics of how the avatar roles were created or transferred to the volunteer subjects, we know that identity is made up of a number of important factors. It is who we are, who we see ourselves to be; that is our abilities, beliefs we have about ourselves (ie females are rubbish at maths??!!), our values (a certain form of belief that is non contextual) and our thoughts, as well as our attitudes, emotions and the behaviours and strategies we have adopted for that identity (ie playing dumb to be a female ??!!).
These are of course, exactly the components we study, deconstruct and reconstruct in experiential modeling (or you could call it experience reprocess engineering!). So this research supports what we find (and have found for the last 25 years) in modeling ability and the structure of experience using NLP. (Why does it always take the psychologists so much time to catch up with NLP? my opinion only .. and perhaps a little ‘blind’ at that!!). And what we have found is that the effect of identity and ability is not tied to a lifetime of experiences, and can therefore be deconstructed and taught to others.
In my second interview with David Gordon he talks about how modeling can be used by organisations to improve performance and help organisations become excellent. Drawing on examples of work done modeling technical skills for a patent office, modeling effective team work for a large oil company on an oil platform in the North Sea, and also a modeling study on a CEO to improve leadership communication. Listen to the 5 min interview below.