The new year has started, but it's not too late to squeeze in those resolutions you want to achieve for 2016. If you're truly serious at meeting your goals, however, make sure you ask, not tell, according to researchers.

In a study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology, researchers detailed the results of a 40-year research involving over 100 studies, saying that turning a statement into a question can greatly influence behavior for over six months after the question was asked.

It's called the question-behavior effect and it's a phenomenon in which people are influenced to perform a certain behavior when asked about it.

Consider asking yourself or someone, "Will you exercise?" The idea behind the question-behavior effect is that it leads to a psychological response that can have an influence on behavior once you, or someone, get the opportunity to exercise. The question is not only a reminder that exercising is good for the health, but it also makes the person asked feel uncomfortable if they are not exercising. To make the feeling of discomfort go away, the person will be motivated to exercise.

Overall, the results of the study suggest that questioning is a simple but effective way to create consistent and significant changes in various behaviors, including those relating to consumer purchases.

Additionally, the question-behavior effect was found to be strongest when a question is asked via paper-and-pencil surveys or through a computer, and when answerable by "Yes" or "No." Other studies have said that having detailed resolutions is crucial in sticking to them, but the resolutions where the question-behavior effect is planned to be applied are better off not having a specific time period.

The question-behavior effect, however, also has some drawbacks. For starters, it's not as effective on behaviors or habits done a lot, and lead to negative results when used on vices. Ask someone about drinking excessively, for instance, and they're likely to drink excessively later on.

For a healthier 2016 then, you'll be better off asking yourself, "Will I exercise?" compared to simply declaring that you will engage in more physical activity during the new year.

Photo : Carol VanHook | Flickr

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