How Will I Do It?

Will I? or I will? The interrogative versus the declarative. It turns out the difference is in the distinction. A study by Ibrahim Senay, a psychologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign shows how.

His study asked a group of people to prepare to solve anagrams by thinking either, “Will I work on anagrams?,” or “I will work on anagrams.” Those that asked the question solved more anagrams than participants who repeated the statement.

Why? Apparently when we pose a question of ourselves we give ourselves the ability to choose - we are empowered. Senay notes, “people are more likely to engage in a behavior when they have intrinsic motivation” or “when they feel personally responsible for their action.”

Further, Senay's findings have applicability to how we engage and teach children. From the report:

"Instead of encouraging kids to say to themselves, 'I can do it!', this research suggests that we should be telling young people to ask, 'Will I do it?' or 'Can I do it?' Better still, we can teach children to inquire of themselves, 'How will I do it?' The difference is subtle but powerful: The first is a potentially empty affirmation, while the second gets kids started on what they really need to make it happen: a plan."