Att säga det allra värsta

En ny forskningsöversikt av Harvard-professorn i psykologi Daniel Wegner, ”How to Think, Say, or Do Precisely the Worst Thing for Any Occasion”, publicerad i Science, beskriver ironiska fel: hur det vi allra mest och medvetet försöker undvika inte kan undvikas av oss. Ett exempel:

[W]hen people are asked not to think about a target word while under pressure to respond quickly in a word association task, they become inclined to offer precisely that forbidden target word.

skinheadsEtt annat exempel:

But the ironic process theory holds that unconscious urges to express such prejudices will be especially insistent when we try to control them under load. This possibility was initially documented in research that asked British participants to suppress their stereotypes of skinheads (white supremacists) and found that such stereotypes then rebounded—even leading experimental participants to sit far away from a skinhead in a waiting room.

För att undvika pinsamheter av detta slag, som att inte säga saker man på förhand har bestämt sig för att inte säga, kan man satsa på att bli mindre av kontrollmänniska:

Strategies people use to relax excessive striving for control, for example, show promise in reducing the severity of ironic effects. Potentially effective strategies include accepting symptoms rather than attempting to control them … and disclosing problems rather than keeping them secret.

Psykologisk forskning kan vara rafflande.