With lifestyle gurus, self-care enthusiasts, and “growth mindset” influencers taking over social media, you have probably been bombarded with a fair share of #MondayMotivation posts and the like.
Of course, everyone wants to feel more motivated for one reason or another. Perhaps by Thursday each week, you are just slugging along at the office in need of some rest and mental relaxation. Or maybe, you wish to feel motivated in other areas of your life– like focusing on fitness or working on a personal hobby.
But is pumping ourselves with motivation-focused content the best way to achieve these goals? Well, according to a new study conducted by the University of Geneva (UNIGE), being too motivated can actually wreck our decision-making processes.
It has long been known that motivation and performance are tied together. The exact nature of this relationship has been severely misunderstood, though.
Many believe that the link is linear– so more motivation must equal a higher performance output, right? Perhaps thankfully, this is actually not the case.
Led by Sami El-Boustani, the study ultimately analyzed how different degrees of motivation alter the sensory information that is transmitted by neurons within the brain’s cortex. Moreover, to what extent different levels of motivation will impact performance and learning while completing a decision-making task.
The researchers were able to do this using a mouse model, in which they first trained the rodents to respond to stimuli using two whiskers– A and B. And afterward, the mice were trained to complete an action– licking a water spout– using only whisker A in order to produce a drop of water.
Once the training portion was completed, the mice were able to successfully differentiate the sensations of whisker A versus whisker B. Then, the research team conducted an experiment using decreasing levels of thirst– essentially the mice’s motivation– and observed how these varying degrees impacted performance.
The study ultimately revealed that when mice were very thirsty, or highly motivated, they did not perform well. The rodents would lick the spout haphazardly and failed to distinguish between the stimulation of whiskers A and B.