Why TED Talks Do Not Change Your Life Explained By Psychology

Have you ever watched an amazing TED talk and concluded: ‘I’m going to change my behavior!’ Perhaps you wanted to procrastinate less, show your vulnerability morepay attention to your body language, focus on your happiness instead of success. These are just of few topics covered in the most popular Ted talks of all time. Yet, several days later you realize that you haven’t actually put the idea into practice?

The Power Of Motivation

With over 4 million subscribers on YouTube we can conclude that TED talks are pretty popular. The speakers share their insight on many different fascinating phenomena in the world. Many talks cover topics related to personal growth. Apparently, we like learning about how we can become happier,  how we become our most fulfilled selves and how we can change our life.

Yet, how many of us actually put these ideas into practice?

“Very few, if any” says Tom Asacker in his fascinating TED talk. “I don’t get enough sleep, I still use too many paper towels and I still buy bottled water” he says.

Why We Don’t Do What We Want To Do

Why is that? Why don’t we do what we know we SHOULD do? Are we not capable?

Most of the time we are perfectly capable. We are even willing. And sometimes we even know HOW we can achieve it. Yet, our motivation will not sustain long enough to actually accomplish it.
Our minds are dynamic systems, which are influenced by our changing perceptions and desires. We are FULLY motivated during and after listening to the speeches. But that paper towel seems quite handy when you want to dry your hands and buying a bottle of water sure is convenient.

You could conclude that humans are a bit lazy. Or weak. But that is a bit too simplistic. The crucial element in explaining our behavior is: intrinsic motivation. Behavior will not change when our intrinsic motivation does not match the message of the speech. Motivation will melt away quickly when it is extrinsically imposed on us through any kind of motivational talk.

Their Idea Versus Your Reality

So, can’t a motivational talk ever incite a behavioral change? It can. When our desire exactly matches the one of the speaker and when our perception of this desire is the same across different situations.

Go watch Tom Asacker’s captivating talk here!