In what seems a mean-spirited method, the psychology researchers created a faux program and divided interested students into four groups: The control group students were not told about a grade-point average required to be accepted into the program; and for the other three they were told the GPA required was .10 higher than their listed GPAs. The ‘counsellor’ told the second group their GPA was simply too low. The third group was told they wouldn’t likely get in but they should apply anyway. The fourth group heard that if accepted they would struggle in the program and if they were able to graduate they wouldn’t find a job related to this career.
The researchers found that showing a negative outcome crushed the dreams and caused anxiety for the fourth group of students. But the second group, say the researchers, shines light on the power we have to pursue our dreams.
‘We have a brilliant ability to spin, deflect or outright dismiss undesired evidence that we can’t do something,’ said Patrick Carroll, co-author of the study and assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University at Lima, in a press release. ‘We try to find reasons to believe.’
This really hit home for me. I remember sitting in the high school guidance counselor’s office with my best friend. She decided she wanted to be a lawyer, and within 20 minutes of the meeting the counselor convinced her not to go to university and to head to our local community college for its legal aide program. I was shocked how easily she was dissuaded from her dream (or perhaps it wasn’t really her dream at all). But she was fine with it and said if she wanted to become a lawyer she could do it after she graduated from two-year college program.
He then turned to me, but before he uttered a word I shot at him, ‘I’m fine. I’ve already made my plans.’ I applied to three universities for English, communications and journalism, and I didn’t want him to talk me out of it!
Have your dreams ever been challenged? If so what did you do about it?