In a study described in the Stanford University Center for Social Innovation, all the people involved were asked to perform the same task but some were told it would be impossible for the researchers to know “whether you are cheating,” while others were told it would be impossible to know “whether you’re a cheater”. The first group (who got the instructions referencing “cheating”) cheated far more than the latter group ( who got the instructions referencing being a “cheater”). Similarly, in the recent election season, appeals to citizens to “be a voter” had much more impact on behavior than did exhortations to “vote”.
The choice of wording makes all the difference in the resulting behavior!
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