The Bowling Study
August 1, 2021
In 1982, Dr. Daniel Kirschenbaum from the University of Wisconsin decided to find out what yields better results when it pertains to personal improvement—focussing on improving strengths or reducing weaknesses.
He went to the local bowling league to conduct a simple social experiment famously known as the “bowling study.”
As part of this Bowling Study, Dr. Daniel took a group of bowlers, assigned them to two separate groups, and asked them to review their performance after each bowling session.
He got members of Group one to review what they did well and asked them to focus on doing what they did well in the subsequent rounds.
In contrast, he asked the bowlers of Group two to review their performance, identify the mistakes they committed and remind themselves to avoid making the same mistakes in the following rounds.
Which group of bowlers do you think improved their bowling performance?
Not surprisingly, the bowlers who focused on what they did well showed a greater than 100% improvement in bowling scores compared to the other group!
Focus On Your Strengths
It turns out that we learn better and improve our performance at anything when we focus on what we do right rather than our mistakes. While this may fly in the face of our normal intuition, there is a sound basis for this conclusion.
I have also written about it in an earlier blog-Use Positive Frames, where I mention how our minds cannot understand negative framing. So if you tell yourself, “avoid this mistake,” you are very likely to repeat it because your mind doesn’t register the “avoid.”
What you focus on will happen more. If you focus on avoiding errors, errors will occur. If You focus more on what you do well, you will reinforce the good actions.
Celebrate your strengths and worry less about improving your weaknesses. That is the mantra for getting better results, whether it is for yourself or anyone else. This is the core message of the “Bowling Study.”