#1138 Playing to Win

vs. Playing Not to Lose

Wrapping up our tour through Robert Biswas-Diener’s brain and book, let’s talk about another Tool we can use to boost our Courage Quotient.

Robert tells us that it’s important to set meaningful goals.

He also tells us that HOW we set those goals is important.

Let’s invite him and some of his research scholars back to the party for another fascinating little study.

Get this…

Robert tells us: “Psychologist E. Tory Higgins and his colleagues have conducted a range of studies that offer evidence that people can adopt a promotion focus and that this focus is associated with increased motivation and success at tasks. In one simple demonstration of this, described in a 1997 article by James Shah, E. Tory Higgins, and Ronald Friedman, the Higgins team had research participants play a word-scramble game. In one of the study conditions the participants were told that they would receive extra money if they solved a high percentage of the puzzles but only the normal amount offered otherwise. Participants in a second study condition were given a different mandate: they were told that they would receive a flat sum but that money would be deducted for errors. In essence one group was playing a game that was framed as either ‘gaining or not gaining’ money whereas the other group’s game focused on ‘not losing or losing’ money. Just this reframing of the game had a dramatic effect on performance: the individuals who were given the focus on gaining performed better.


One group had a “promotion” focus. They were playing to WIN rather than playing *not* to lose.

That group performed better than the other group.

Which begs the question…

How are YOU playing the game of life?

Let’s have fun knowing the game we’re playing and how to play it well.

And play it to WIN!


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