Many cultures focus on family history and their ancestors may be venerated or worshiped. To those in varying societies and cultural backgrounds this may seem weird, though harmless. I do think of my ancestors every now and then, for example, perhaps a medical precursor who began a long-running, privately-run company.
So, is thinking about your ancestors really beneficial to you and what purpose might it serve you exactly?
At the Universities of Graz, Berlin - Peter Fischer's team did some intriguing examinations that gave some remarkable results that showed that thinking about our predecessors enables us to be more confident and even makes us more astute, boosting our knowledge and quick-wit in performance or intelligence tests. - Pretty neat!
Subjects were requested to dedicate 5-minutes of their time thinking about either their 15th century ancestors, their great-grandparents, or a recent shopping trip. After thinking about both sets of ancestors, recent and distant, the subjects felt more confident about their execution and potential performance in exams. Further tests showed an impressive improvement in insight tests, for example - the individuals who set their concentration on their distant ancestors scored on average of 14 out of 16, compared with an average of 10 out of 16 among control subjects. - That's a noteworthy and significant improvement!
The effect that Fischer and his colleagues think that is happening is that when we think about how our ancestors struggled, endured, and won through in times that were a lot less easy than they are now, then we realize that we have the same qualities (genes) and become more confident, which leads to more certainty and exertion during insight, performance and intelligence tests.
So try it - the next time you want a confidence boost and added certainty, or are ready to breeze through an exam, think about your great-great grandparents!
Reference: Fischer, P., Sauer, A., Vogrincic, C., and Weisweiler, S. (2011), Berlin
European Journal of Social Psychology, 41, 1, (11) 16