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Molehills, Mountains and Change Management

MountainDo you think this is helpful?

Much of the work we do as clinicians involves behaviour change.

In a recent purchase Tadalafil Health Report on Radio National, Norman Swan interviewed the American researcher Associate Professor Kent Harber. Prof Harber has done research on the affect the amount of social support and our available resources affect our perception on the challenges we face. Hills literally look steeper when we’re feeling down or isolated.

I wonder if this is helpful for us. This is why, for example, encouraging weight loss requires more than just telling our patients to ‘eat less – do more’. We need to deal with their psychology – the social supports they have available and their emotions about the challenges they face.

This helps to explain why having a friend participate in a healthy lifestyle program makes such a difference. Certainly, I know that I work much harder in a ‘spin’ class when my wife takes me along with her than I ever would on an exercise bike at home.

Here is a snippet from their interview :

Kent Harber: There’s a researcher at University of Virginia named Dennis Proffitt who is a vision researcher not a social psychologist and his interest is how people perceive physical challenges like how steep a hill is because you’re going to hike it. And what he finds is that the physical state or the physical burden of the person shapes and affects their perception of how steep that hill is.

purchase Baclofen 25 mg Norman Swan: Is it a physical or psychological burden?

Kent Harber: Well his interest is in physical so if a person is in very good shape they see a hill as less steep than if they are not in so good shape. Older people see the hill as steeper than younger people, someone wearing a heavy back pack sees a hill steeper than someone not wearing a heaving back pack. What our interest was OK if physical burdens effect how we see hills what about psychological burdens or the alleviation of them. So what we did is we had our participants standing at the base and we just got people who happened to be in the vicinity who are either all alone or with a friend and they estimated how steep was the hill. They gave us a verbal estimate – how steep is it in degrees, they gave us what’s called a visual estimate, we had a device that looks like a pizza pan that you can open up or shut and then there’s a third estimate which is called a haptic, where you put your hand at the angle you think the slope is, that’s how your body sees the hill. Proffitt always finds that people’s haptic measures are always accurate, your foot knows where to place itself on the hill but the visual estimates are those that tend to be exaggerated. What we found is that our subjects who were with their friend saw the hill as less steep than those who were not with a friend and the longer they knew their friend the less steep the hill became.

In the second stage we thought, well, you’ve got people here who show up with friends, people –

Norman Swan: It could be an accident of fate that they’ve turned up by themselves.

Kent Harber: Or maybe socially isolated people…………

Albendazole without prescription Norman Swan: Don’t even go to the hill.

Kent Harber: Exactly, so the participants either thought about, as in the pain study, they thought about a very good person, a neutral person or a negative person, they went to the hill. People who thought about a positive person saw the hill as less steep, the closer they felt towards the person they thought about, the less steep the hill became; same hill, different social context.

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