How motivational phrases increase willpower

The study published in the American journal Europe’s Journal of Psychology, and directed by Jesús Alcoba, researcher of personal success and director of the La Salle Business School in Madrid, shows a statistically significant increase in willpower in exposed people to motivational phrases before taking on a challenge.

After observing the trend in the use of dating on social networks, Alcoba, an expert in personal development who investigates why some individuals achieve what they propose and others do not, and the role that willpower plays in achieving these achievements wanted to investigate what extent these fashionable phrases that we treasure as pearls of wisdom and share daily, benefit and influence our motivation and emotions.

“We see that these appointments produce benefits because they not only increase willpower but can offset their loss,” Alcoba explains.

And he continues: “Willpower is like a tank that is full at the beginning of the day and that is depleted as a result of decision-making or impulse control. The inspiring phrases that we constantly share on social media not only help us to reflect, but they can be a powerful ally in achieving our goals.”


The study consisted of 2 experiments that were carried out on two groups of people.

In the first, they analyzed to what extent these motivational phrases could increase or reinforce willpower. To do this, the participants in group 1, before carrying out a complicated task, wrote on a paper some phrases or quotes that they preferred within a list given to them, such as the famous phrase by Michael Jordan: “ I have failed over and over again in life and that is why I have achieved success.

However, the people in group 2 carried out the task with neutral phrases that did not speak of effort or failures such as: “the lack of qualified labor has made it difficult to collect strawberries in Huelva”.

In the second experiment, it was considered to what extent these motivational phrases reinforced the levels of willpower that had been depleted after carrying out a task designed for it.

It was observed that simply by altering the content of the consciousness of the members exposed to the appointments for a few minutes, there was a quite significant increase in their willpower, by spending more time to solve a very difficult task, compared to the second group that abandoned their resolution much earlier.

This study joins a growing body of research that looks at how to develop willpower for benefits in areas such as academics, problem-solving, controlling impulsive behaviors around food or alcohol, etc. The best known is the “marshmallow test”, conducted by Walter Mischel who was able to prove the Principle of Success in children.

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