Motivations are everywhere, from the food and beverage industry to the fashion industry to entertainment and politics.
But according to new research, they are also used to teach people to be happy, even if they are doing so by themselves.
The findings from a study of motivational speakers and their audience are the latest in a long line of studies that show that people learn to be more motivated and to care about others as long as they are getting support from others, says Mark Riedel, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.
“They learn to care, and that’s why they’re happy,” he says.
The study found that the motivational speaker’s audience consisted largely of people who had either recently or previously experienced serious mental health issues.
This group, Riedels says, is often the most vulnerable.
“People with mental health problems are more likely to experience emotional distress and loneliness,” he said.
“We’re talking about a group that has very low self-esteem, so they’re often very vulnerable to the effects of anxiety, depression, stress and isolation.”
So how do these people actually become more motivated?
One factor may be the motivational speakers’ content, according to Riedes.
The researchers found that, in addition to talking about the positive things that can happen, motivational speakers often give motivational tips for how to be successful.
“These are all the things that we’re trained to do as human beings,” he explained.
“And we learn to do those things when we’re young.”
Motivational speaker tips for overcoming anxiety and depressionSource: Mark Riesel/UC BerkeleyThe authors also found that these tips are often repeated to motivate people who have difficulty with the things they normally do, like shopping and work.
“When we talk about things we normally do and that we have a problem with, we want to be reminded that there’s something positive about it,” Rieds says.
Motivations can also be used to motivate others.
The authors found that some people with a serious mental illness might want to talk about their illness or to encourage others to seek help.
“This is one way that a motivational speaker might be using the message of positive emotion to motivate an audience that is likely to be vulnerable to those same things,” Rieses says.
“They’re also using it to motivate themselves to get help.”
While the results are promising, there are many more challenges ahead for the study, Riesels cautions.
For one, the participants in the study were mainly in their 20s and 30s.
“We don’t know how people will respond to this,” he notes.
“There are other, potentially harmful effects that may be happening.”
For more information, contact Riedelt at mondaymotivations.com or 877-539-6423.