Mirrors as Psychological Defense (and life/dream hacking)

It turns out staring into a mirror is not just a vanity thing. Seeing yourself in a mirror actually reduces your susceptibility to external demands and “suggestions” (in the psychological-subliminal sense), according to a quite comprehensive literature review I was inspired to dig up today.

Seems like a great psychological self-defense tactic to keep in mind.

Lifehacking stuff:
– A dream journal continues to be among my most useful daily habits.

– While it’s only useful on days when I anticipate sitting at the computer and not talking to anyone, garlic is AWESOME!

Two or three cloves (*lights breath on fire*) sliced coarsely on whole grain bread with something more substantial over top provides a subjective and totally unquantifiable sense of feeling-betterness that I highly recommend (to single non-office-workers).

(A bit of organic honey on a bit of bread a few minutes later does wonders to kill any lingering acidic taste.)

pages 6-9 of the following PDF
http://libres.uncg.edu/ir/uncg/f/P_Silvia_On_2001.pdf

“All participants’
judgments were vulnerable to the external information. This effect, however, was moderated by self-awareness.
The external information effect was reduced—though still present—in the mirror condition relative to the no- mirror condition.[…]

Participants were (high self-awareness) or were not (low self-awareness) exposed to their
own mirror image and received 5 g of bicarbonate of soda mixed with water. Half of the participants were
misinformed that this ―drug‖ (called ―Cavenol‖) would have an arousing effect similar to caffeine. For the other
half, the drug was correctly labeled as ―soda‖ to ensure that no arousal effects would be expected. After
observing the learner’s performance, participants completed a questionnaire with measures of perceived arousal and physical symptoms.
In addition to a main effect for type of external information—higher arousal ratings in the Cavenol than in the
soda conditions—results showed that self-aware participants in the Cavenol condition reported fewer of the
specific symptoms that had been ascribed to the drug than did participants low in self-awareness. As in the
Scheier et al. (1979) experiments, self-awareness once again attenuated the impact of external information on self-judgments.[…]

Levine and McDonald (1981) noted the lack of direct evidence and suggested that self-awareness was simply
making people more resistant to external demands. If the experimenter’s expectancy is clear to the participant,
either as a statement of taste intensity or a list of symptoms to be expected, then the participant may be
responding on the basis of the experimenter’s statements rather than on the basis of internal states. In this view,
self-awareness may make people more resistant to external demands (cf. Carver, 1977), not more sensitive to internal information. […]

As predicted, the three drug groups reported experiencing the expected levels of physiological arousal. Contrary
to the perceptual accuracy hypothesis, self-awareness had no effect on reported arousal or the overall
effectiveness of the drug. In fact, self-awareness made people less accurate. The high self-awareness group
rated the placebo dosage as significantly greater than the low self-awareness group; perceiving a placebo as
more intense certainly cannot reflect deeper access to internal states. Even more challenging is the finding that
the self-aware group reported relying significantly less on internal bodily states when judging the drug’s overall
effectiveness. This challenges the very idea that self-focus attunes people to internal information, let alone that it makes the information more accurate.
Levine and McDonald (1981) interpreted their study as showing ―reduced susceptibility to external demands,
rather than heightened awareness of internal states, for those made self-aware‖ (p. 655).”

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