The Science Behind The Law Of Attraction

in #psychology4 years ago (edited)

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You may have heard of LOA, or Law Of Attraction, many celebrities subscribe to it. You may have heard it called something else like Cosmic Ordering, Affirmations, Prayer, or Universal Attraction, however the theory is the same. Ask the universe for something, and it will answer you back by giving you what you ask for.

If you haven't heard of it, let me explain in brief; the Law Of Attraction states that if you write a request down on a piece of paper, then keep that paper somewhere safe, that thing will come true. Sometimes this is accompanied by reading the thing you wrote down and saying it out loud 15 times per day, other times not.

More and more people are subscribing to LOA, people as diverse as the MMA fighter Conor McGregor, right through to the Hollywood superstar Will Smith.

Though in a universe that is governed by ever expanding laws of physics, whereby theories such as thermodynamics have been proven adinfinitum. Is there much to talk about here? Is it a case of wishful thinking; or simply fitting in facts after the event?

Apparently not; though the answer is perhaps not quite as mystical as you might think.

Cutting Through The Bullshit

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If you look up LOA on Wikipedia, you will come across the following entry:

the law of attraction is the belief that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts, a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life. The belief is based on the idea that people and their thoughts are both made from "pure energy", and that through the process of "like energy attracting like energy" a person can improve their own health, wealth and personal relationships.

Often when populist theories gain traction in society, they do so via pseudo-science, that is to say they take previously proven scientific facts, and mould them to their own self-serving, interests.

Take the statement above, particular the part about people and their thoughts being made from pure energy.

That statement in isolation, can be said to be true; as first postulated in Einstein's famous mass-energy equivalence equation E=MC2 and further proven in various quantum field, collider experiments at the LHC and beyond.

However at no point has it been proven that these energies are somehow conscious and can act accordingly. In fact, if anything, scientists are proving day by day, that energy is energy whereever you are and however you observe it. The same can be said for matter at its base level, there is nothing distinctive or special from one quark to the next.

Though saying all of that does not matter, the LOA appears to work. Perhaps then it is a case of celebrity delusion? Whereby a celebrity becomes successful in their field, and later on, after their initial success, they get into some form of mysticism. Be it Kaballah, or LOA, and then mistakenly attribute their new found spirituality with their success.

The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword

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It would appear at first glance, that LOA is simply a form of self-hypnosis, albeit a rather effective one. Believers tell themselves something enough, and therefore subconsciously start taking steps to make that thing come true; or at least the believers it works for.

One thing is crystal clear, if you lie around in bed all day playing World of Warcraft, then no matter how hard you wish for it, you are not going to become a professional athlete or some kind of rock God.

Tell yourself something enough times, whilst actively taking steps to make that thing come true, and you have a shot, it's that simple.

However there is something even more interesting than simple self-hypnosis taking place here. In the 1950s America fought in the Korean war, and in that war thousands of American soldiers were captured by both the North Koreans and the Chinese.

The American POWs suffered terrible treatment, especially at the hands of the North Koreans. The Chinese however had another agenda besides sheer brutalisation.

The Red Army sought to make collaborators out of American soldiers, by getting them to agree with communism and to denounce the United States and its actions. The program was so effective, that it sparked huge fears back home when the soldiers returned, and proved a catalyst for the now infamous McCarthy witch hunts.

It turns out that the Chinese were aware of certain cognitive biases when you write things down. So for instance an American after hours of exhausting interrogation, may have been asked the question;

"Do you agree that America is not perfect?"

Even the most pedantic of patriots, under such duress would have to concede that of course their beloved homeland wasn't perfect.

After that, the Chinese interrogator might then suggest that the soldier write down those words. If he refused, then his oppressor might persuade him to sign his name to a written statement expressing the statement.

This often felt like a small concession, after all, you were just putting your name to something that whilst was true, was a pretty banal and harmless statement, about the non-perfection of America. Because after all, nobody is perfect, right?

Well it turns out that the writing down of such statements, or the written consent of them, fundamentally changes something in the psyche of the person doing the writing.

It seems that there is a basic human instinct to appear consistent, and once you have written something down, especially if that thing becomes public, you will find it psychologically difficult to go against what you previously wrote down.

The Chinese knew this very well, and their tactics ranged from getting prisoners to sign seemingly ambiguous statements. To writing essays about America and China, capitalism, and communism.

One of the reasons for their success in getting enemy soldiers to ultimately agree and eventually collaborate with them, was because the rewards they gave out for things like essay writing, were typically very small.

For instance an American POW who won an essay writing competition, may get an extra cigarette or a 10% extra rice rations. Even by the standards of a prisoner of war camp, these prizes were small. The reason being, that psychologically, you are much more likely to conform to an idea if there is not a huge amount of coercion.

So in other words, you can beat or bribe a person to say anything; however it is very unlikely to stick in that person's mind as something they actually believe in.

However if somebody seemingly comes to a decision by themselves, it is much more likely to stick. So with a combination of public declaration, with small reward, the Chinese succesfully gained a huge amount of colaboration from the Americans.

The North Koreans on the other hand, who simply brutalised their prisoners of war, rarely got more information than, name, rank, and serial number.

Modern Manipulation

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We have seen these experiments recreated in less harrowing, more modern settings. A study done by Dutch psychologists showed that, three sets of students each shown different length lines, had varying degrees of loyalty to their guesses.

Group number one was asked to guess the length of a bunch of random lines they were shown. The second group were asked to guess, and then write down their answers on a magic marker pad. Once they had done this, they were to lift the cover of the pad, thus wiping their written results.

The last group were asked to guess, then write down their guesses in a pad, and hand them into the experimenter.

Next, all three groups were given new information about the length of lines, which ultimately would help them make more accurate guesses.

The first group who had written down nothing, had a very high percentage of people changing their guesses on the strength of the new information. Group two, who had briefly written down their guesses were much more reluctant, just under half decided to change their guesses.

The last group stuck to their guns, around 96% refused to change their estimates. The general consensus is that once we have committed to something by writing it down. Especially if we show that thing to someone, then subconsciously we feel we are committed to the idea.

This for me is the main reason LOA works, if you write down what you want the universe to give you, then there is every likelihood, that you are cognitively indebted to that idea.

Clearly there must be limitations, if the request is too fantastical, like wanting to visit Jupiter's moon Europa, next year, then no amount of psychological burden will get you there.

However wish for a better job, or more money, then the chances are (as long as you're not lazy as hell), will be that those things will manifest themselves because of your actions, designed to make that thing happen.

Cosmic Conclusion

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There is no such thing as magic; however our brains are so amazingly complex, that things often arise from our thinking, which could be considered magical or mystical.

Regardless of why it works, the Law Of Attraction has made a lot of people very happy and successful. It definitely won't work if you don't put in the time to make it work, and it can't really help if you ask for things beyond your control, like a lottery win.

My philosophy is why not? As long as you're not deluding yourself, or giving yourself an excuse not to take action, then just go for it. Write down what you want the universe to give you, look at that piece of paper every day, maybe even show it to someone, then see what happens.

Then check back here and let me know how it went for you!

Cryptogee

WHAT DO YOU THINK? IS IT ALL A LOAD OF BALONEY OR DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE LAW OF ATTRACTION? HAVE YOU HAD ANY DIRECT OR INDIRECT EXPERIENCE OF LOA? IF SO, LET ME KNOW BELOW!

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I was just thinking about the law of attraction and suddenly this article appeared. Thank you @cryptogee and thank you universe!

Lolz; glad to oblige :-)

Cg

Thanks for the post.
I think the main effect is on the psyche of the person making the affirmation --or Afforemation, which means asking "How can I do/achieve X?" rather than simply stating "I want X."

I definitely agree with your statement that, "if somebody seemingly comes to a decision by themselves, it is much more likely to stick." This is a key aspect of the negotiation strategy that Chris Voss, former lead hostage negotiator for the FBI, describes in his book, "Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if your life depended on it." I found it both interesting and useful. If anyone's interested, I wrote a mini-review on Steemit.

I do a technique thats similar except I use it in a "mind map" - I write something on a piece of paper (in my mind map) and return to it. Its all about being present and staying in the moment with whatever youre trying to accomplish - in my experience.

Yes I have been doing mental affirmations, whilst taking massive action, for the last year or so. I am intrigued with the psychological ramifications for actually writing stuff down. So I've started experimenting with it to see where it leads :-)

Cg

I believe that if you are walking around on this planet filled with anger you will attract people also filled with anger. In terms of accomplishing your dreams, it require as you say, effort or work. None of it will come true if just sit and masturbate. Except short term pleasure ofcourse. Writing something on a piece of paper and then going for it have worked wonders for some. Maybe it's LOA or it's just that they keep their mind focus on their goal every day, and never stop. Thank you for posting!

Maybe it's LOA or it's just that they keep their mind focus on their goal every day, and never stop.

I think they are one of the same thing, the writing helps to keep your mind focused, but of course it cannot force you to act...

Thanks for reading :-)

Cg

Hasn't worked for me yet or maybe I'm adressing it to negatively (mind-boggling)

Excellent subject :)

The double slit experiments have proven that the observer has an effect on the universe just by observing it. Energy responds to human beings.

The first layer of this universe is the causal plane. It has to be this way because of free will. The causal plane is where, what you are being, attracts the situations and circumstances that matches what you are being.

Or the law of attraction.

The law is inviolable except by the zeroth layer. Meaning that even the law of gravity will bend to a person's will.

The biggest problem in application of the law of attraction is that people say they want stuff. Like, a million dollars. But, the universe is about interactions, green pieces of paper mean nothing. So, what do you want the million dollars for? So that you have all your bills paid? Well, programming for all your bills to be paid is fairly easy. And it may come about by extra money coming to you. It may also come about by having your phone turned off so your monthly bills are lowered.

So, work on programming yourself to what you really want. And ask for those things.

The double slit experiment does no such thing, it actually proves that light behaves simultaneously like a particle and a wave.

As I have iterated in my article, I'm not for the mystical explanations, more the practical ones. Any effect is purely psychological :-)

Cg

It seems to me just an overly complicated way of saying, "Think Positive."

Read it, and see if you still think that...

Cg

Your article? I did. I ran into other people pushing this woo woo. It is a basic fallacy: Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc. Or If Y follows X, then X must have caused Y.

Very possibly, however what do you think about the Chinese propaganda in the Korean War and also the Dutch experiments I cited?

As I pointed out, the whole cosmic ordering concept is indeed woo woo, however there is a possible psychological link with writing things down and getting things done.

Trust me, I'm the least woo woo person you'll ever meet :-)

Cg

Awesome post, thanks for your work @cryptogee !
So here's how I would approach this (trying not to go down the pseudo-scientific path); starting from the quantum realm (and the famous double-slit experiment), we know consciousness (observation - the focus of attention) is what collapses the wave function and gives rise to a single observed position for the quantum particle, out of the infinitely many - or put differently, out of the infinite 'parallel worlds' where the quantum particle (ex photon) exists simultaneously.
Now, lets make a quantum leap (pun intended) from the microscopic to the macroscopic world of our first-person experience and external reality. And let's parallel the 'infinite possibilities' of the quantum particle to the framework of the 'Multiverse Theory' - 'Many-worlds interpratation'. Of course, the Multiverse - the infinite parallel timelines and worlds which all exist simultaneously - is well, just a theory, which we cannot prove, and has String Theory as a foundation, which we also cannot prove (it is mathematically sound nonetheless). So in the framework of the Multiverse, there is an infinite number of 'copies' of ourselves, or may I say 'fractals' of our individual consciousness (indeed one can also say that we are all fractals of the collective consciousness / the God Mind / one Cosmic Consciousness - collectively experiencing itself from all possible points of view in every possible situation..but I digress).
So... without even also delving into cognitive science , the holographic universe hypothesis or even simulation theory, let's ponder the subject matter; the LOA. What if the focus of our intent - or consciousness - on one single thought/wish in our macroscopic world (much like the focus of our consciousness, or observation, of the particle in the quantum world) is what connects the different timelines of the multiverse, and with the power of focusing our consciousness on something (and acting on it) we slowly but steadily have different timelines (the current and the 'wished for') gradually converge, through certain 'coincidences' that happen - or may I say synchronicities. Kind of like the saying that when you want something really bad, the whole universe conspires for that to happen. In other words, the manifestation under the LOA practically involves moving from the current timeline to the desired parallel one via the focus of our consciousness.
I think it's a cool musing... :D
any thoughts?
thanks again for your post :)

Hi,

Thanks for your reply and I enjoy your musings...

I see it more as a purely psychological urge, fuelled by the evolution of our brains. We have a burning desire to remain consistent, as it is consistency that has allowed us in large parts to form such huge societies.

This can be proved by calling as many people as you can unreliable, flaky, inconsistent. You will see that 99% of the time people will not be happy with that tag.

Ergo focusing on a thought or wish, especially by writing it down is a way of speaking to our subconscious and saying this is who I am. Thus the burning desire of consistency takes over.

As with a lot of cognitive functions, it is easy to mistake this for something mystical. Indeed the way the multitudinous parts of our brains are constantly talking to each other, in my mind, gives rise to "spirituality". I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with interpreting cognitive function this way, I'm simply calling a spade a spade.

we know consciousness (observation - the focus of attention) is what collapses the wave function and gives rise to a single observed position for the quantum particle,

Actually even when observing single particles in the double slit experiment take one path or another. We see that the pattern left on the photographic plate is still that of a wave function. Indicating that there is something going on at the quantum level which is beyond our technological capabilities, to observe.

Don't forget that at some point we didn't know that stars were other suns and galaxies until our observational equipment got better :-)

Regardless of the reasons, in a lot of cases, a dedicated following of the LOA will produce results, and that is the best thing of all :-)

Cg

Ha absolutely, you went at lengths explaining this and I'm in full agreement with your take on it, makes perfect sense. I merely went for the more mystical/spiritual/demi-scientitic musing, which still is cool. So yeah thanks for the whole analysis.
As for the double-slit experiment, unless my understanding is not perfect, I think when observing the particles before (and actually even after) entering the slit, the wave function collapses and it only goes through one slit. What you are referring to I think is when multiple beams of particles are launched, and it was observed that although each (observed) particle goes through a single slit (instead of both) as a particle and not as a wave, they all land at different positions that, nonetheless, collectively altogether form the pattern that resembles the entire wave function (like each individual dot collectively paintining the pattern at the other side when landing on the plate). At any rate, super powerful and buffling experiment, truly amazing.
Looking forward to more such posts from you :)

I think I'm going to have to look up the experiment again, I'm going purely from memory, and it has been a while! Thanks for your comments and this mini debate :-)

Cg

I appreciate reading your thinking about the LOA. I'm much more mystical than you but really like reading your logic, examples and thinking to broaden my perspective, thanks!

Thanks :-) Yes, I am undeniably, and unashamedly a completely logical being, whilst I love Kirk, Spock is definitely my spirit guide ;-)

Cg

hahaha, love that analogy!

Tee hee :-D

Cg

Wow very well said!! I loved the reference to the Red Army and their utilization of the Law of Attraction. Very good read.

My dear father always said a pen hit a lot harder than a fist.Very interesting i learn alot now ijust upvode you scotty @777.

This topic is intriguing, I bought the related DvD "The Secret" in a thrift store for $2 and found it to be certainly engaging. I have put the theory to test however to no avail. I have focused every day for many years on the modest home I would like to own. I keep the literal house # sign above the mirror in my bedroom and see it every day. Needless to say, I'm not one step closer to buying a shanty, let alone a house of any sort! lol

I have focused every day for many years on the modest home I would like to own. I keep the literal house # sign above the mirror in my bedroom and see it every day. Needless to say, I'm not one step closer to buying a shanty, let alone a house of any sort! lol

What else besides staring at a bit of paper are you doing to get closer to your dream? As I said in the article, that kind of behaviour without action, will get you nowhere.

Action is the key, get addicted to taking action and then write down those affirmations, the idea is your subconscious simply won't let you rest on your laurels, and will kick your ass into gear :-)

Cg

Amen! They say it is never too late....but getting close after yet another birthday has passed. I am inspired to get off my laurels ~ thanks!

Go for it!

Cg

I am not giving any belief at all in the LAO. Even the L there sounds wrong to me :)

If one really wants something, one only needs to give us= means to achieve it. Then it may work, or not. At least, one would have tried. Life is just a bunch of tries, errors and successes ad there are always good things even in some failure :)

PS: I am definitely bad in philosophying...

I agree with you, however there is a psychology behind it as I explained, it is all about telling yourself it will happen, AND taking action. Without action there is no attraction, just fantasy :-)

Cg

Yep! That is the "and taking action" part that is often missing, and I wanted to insist on that point :)

Law of Attraction also leads to retiring of the brain to be sensitized to your desires or attractions. Also agree with once you put it out there, it comes back to you. It is important to accept or receive what is given...

Hmm, not quite what I was going for, putting it out there without action will get you the same results as playing the lottery each week; absolutely nothing.

Cg

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