Positive thinking and imagery are essential elements of AI dialogue. There is plenty of research (and we hope even more to come) on the importance of positive action. Here are some of the interesting findings in this area.
This is a longstanding area of understanding where in medical studies, between one and two-thirds of people who were provided a sugar pill (or harmless replacement) showed marked improvement in their symptoms simply because they believed in the power of the medication, even though they never received the actual medication itself. The power of the placebo in making people believe it works reflects the complicated nature of our minds, and the relationship between mind and body.
In this classic study, teachers were led to believe that their students fell into a category as a high potential, regular potential, or low potential student. In reality, the students were totally random, but the outcome of the study was that as teachers taught the groups, each one of them began to show clearly documented changes, where the high potential students significantly outperformed the others. This increase in performance had nothing to do with intelligence or natural talent, but was the result of the expectations of the teacher. This shows us that cognitive capacity can be shaped by someone’s expectations, and that positive action is a dynamic, teachable characteristic. It also shows that what we believe about others affects how we treat them, and our expectations of them.
We have an internal soundtrack that is continually playing, and makes up our inner dialogue. For example, when people are undergoing a stressful medical procedure, they can think about things via their inner dialogue as either negative (“This procedure could kill me”) or positive (“This procedure will save my life”). The dialogue feeds our vision of the future and becomes the thing we focus on. It is reflected in the expression, “What you think about comes about.”
Interestingly, functional groups are characterized by a measured 2:1 ratio of positive images to negative images, whereas mildly dysfunctional groups show a balanced 1:1 ratio.
Many researchers have evaluated how underlying images and symbols have a huge influence on civilization and culture. A positive image of the future helps us understand cultural evolution as dynamic, where it supports a flourishing people.
One very popular example of positive imagery is applied to athletic training. It seems that the best athletes have a highly developed capacity for metacognition and self-monitoring. They can improve their results tremendously by using visualization techniques in addition to their physical training, and get better results than when they complete physical training without the use of positive imagery.
As an AI practitioner or specialist, you have to make sure that you consistently and genuinely project a positive image and positive expectations of the people working with you and the people who are involved in appreciative inquiry.