Linguistic Mechanisms Cause Rapid Behavior Change Part Two: How Linguistic Frames Affect Motivation

By Yeager, Joseph; Sommer, Linda | The Qualitative Report, September 2007 | Go to article overview

Linguistic Mechanisms Cause Rapid Behavior Change Part Two: How Linguistic Frames Affect Motivation


Yeager, Joseph, Sommer, Linda, The Qualitative Report


Written and spoken language contains inherent mechanisms driving motivation. Accessing and modifying psycholinguistic mechanisms, links language frames to changes in behavior within the context of motivational profiling. For example, holding an object like an imported apple feels safe until one is informed it was grown in a toxic waste dump. Instantly linguistic processing changes the apple's meaning to dangerous. Qualitative data change from static into dynamic measures of motivational changes. Linguistic cause-effect mechanisms dramatically enhance the results and meaning of qualitative research methods, resulting new applications for behavioral engineering, including opinion polling, persuasive marketing campaigns, individual psychotherapy and executive performance coaching. Motivational mechanisms, especially linguistic frames, engineer deliberate and predictable improvements in outcomes, impossible with popular statistical methods. Key Words: Motivational Profiling, Motivation, Systems Analysis, Behavioral Engineering, Content Analysis, Linguistic Frames, Psycholinguistics, Behavioral Prediction, Qualitative Mechanism of Action, and Behavior Change

Introduction

The past one hundred years have seen technologies in aerospace rapidly develop into commercial aviation, rocket science, spaceflight, and planetary exploration. One major reason for rapid development in technology is the simple and profound notion of consequences. When aviation disasters occurred, methods changed immediately. Progress was swift. By comparison, the technology of the behavioral sciences has not developed as effectively during that same century. Dominant statistical methods, lacking cause-effect rationales, largely bypassed concerns for consequences in the real world.

In contrast to statistical methods, during the last decades of the 20th century a cause-effect technology developed in the field of psycholinguistics. Consequently, by utilizing the structure and dynamics of language to manage the ever-changing phenomena of motivation, linguistics introduced cause-effect tools to qualitative data gathering. The measurement difference is like the difference between a series of still photos compared to an entire Hollywood movie. The mechanisms of language and the tools of systems analysis have been combined to offer methods that diagnose, prescribe, and change an extraordinary range of motivated human behavior. The cause-effect mechanisms in language dramatically enhance the results and meaning of qualitative research methods.

Motivation and Language

The behavioral professions accept that any behavior, any choice, requires motive, opportunity, and means as necessary ingredients. Without all three, no behavior occurs (Turvey, 1999). Setting aside opportunity and means in this discussion, our focus here considers effective linguistic methods for understanding motivation and its successful modification to alter an individual's choices. To state the obvious, motive is what people want. As far back as ancient Greece the principle has been accepted that motive precedes behavior. Decoding, remodeling, and recoding language directly causes behavior to change. Thus, one can change the language within the motive to change the behavior. Mechanisms are now known, which produce interventions that cause immediate behavioral and motivational changes. Consistent cause-effect methods for changing motivated choices are a development of the last decades of the twentieth century. The value for qualitative research is to upgrade research findings into hard scientific data.

Qualitative researchers have a reliable and valid dynamic mechanism of action and measurement. The mechanism is language itself. When language is framed as psycholinguistic motivational phenomena, many qualitative tools such as focus groups and interviews are transformed from relative and subjective measurements into hard-copy measurement tools.

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