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More research on the power of our minds: Clues for buffing up our conflict resolving muscles

From Stephanie West Allen’s blog on Neuroscience

and conflict resolution .

In "Mind Over Matter: Mental Training Increases Physical Strength" (pdf), we learn of some astoundingWeights_2
research. The study "tested whether mental training alone can produce a gain in muscular strength." The answer? Yes!

Here’s the research method:

Thirty male university athletes, including football, basketball and rugby players, were randomly assigned to perform mental training of their hip flexor muscles, to use weight machines to physically exercise their hip flexors, or to form a control group which received neither mental nor physical training. The hip strength of each group was measured before and after training. Physical strength was increased by 24% through mental practice (p = .008). Strength was also increased through physical training, by 28%, but did not change significantly in the control condition.

Research has shown that mental rehearsal is almost as effective as physical practice in improving performance. Many great athletes have used mental rehearsal to improve success; the science has proven what they already knew.

But here is a piece of research looking not at performance but at strength! Mental training can improve strength. Is that not exciting?

What other improvements can we make by thought alone? I am sure we will learn more and more about the power of our mind—and soon.

How might you use mental rehearsal as a person helping others to resolve disputes? How might you use mental rehearsal to resolve your own disputes? And, maybe most important, how might you recommend to clients—or use yourself—mental rehearsal to avoid future conflict? Think about it.

And please let me know your thoughts.

Note (added January 7, 2008, 8:15 AM Mountain): On a related note,

many of you have probably read about the hotel-maid research by Professor Ellen J. Langer. As described in "Mindful Exercise," a New York Times article:

Simply by telling 44 hotel maids that what they did each day involved some serious exercise, the Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer and Alia J. Crum, a student, were apparently able to lower the women’s blood pressure, shave pounds off their bodies and improve their body-fat and “waist to hip” ratios. Self-awareness, it seems, was the women’s elliptical trainer.

Early in January of 2008, NPR covered Langer’s research: "Hotel Maids Challenge the Placebo Effect."

The Langer research was published in Psychological Science (Alia J. Crum, Ellen J. Langer (2007)
Mind-Set Matters: Exercise and the Placebo Effect, Psychological Science 18 (2), 165–171.) Read the Psychological Science article here. (pdf) 

Image credit: alocboyz at photobucket


Stephanie West Allen

Stephanie West Allen, JD, practiced law in California for several years, held offices in local bar associations, and wrote chapters for California Continuing Education of the Bar. While in CA, Stephanie completed several five-day mediation training programs with the Center for Mediation in Law, as well as a two-year intensive… MORE >

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