The Opposite Proximity Effect in Psychology

Proximity effect psychology

The other day I went to the cupboard for a snack. I had no idea I would have the psychological epiphany of the century: the opposite proximity effect (in psychology). Who knew I was so amazing?

Oh… right. This is something to help you be amazing too. Maybe almost as much as the real me.

Hehe. I made myself laugh. Let’s not get carried away.

The Proximity Effect

First of all, the proximity effect in psychology refers to the idea that physical and psychological nearness to others tends to increase interpersonal liking. Ugh.

Bo… ring. How does this even help us achieve greatness? You think I became awesome through “interpersonal liking.” That phrase alone just sounds … creepy. “Would you mind if I interpersonally like you?”

The better proximity effect is simple: the closer things are to us, the more we pay attention to them. For instance, studies have shown that if we have snacks like M&Ms right beside us when we work, we eat a ton of them. Put them a foot away, and we eat less of them. Put them 5 feet away, and we only have a few occasionally.

Are you picking up what I’m putting down? That’s probably because it’s so close! See how that works?

Now that you know the proximity effect in psychology (the good one, not the one that makes you put your finger on the 911 speed dial), let’s look at how we can use it to our advantage.

The Opposite Proximity Effect in Psychology

The other day I went to the cabinet to get a treat, when I had a moment of brilliance. Bear in mind, it was just one of many, because I’m… (see, normally I would tell you the answer, but if you’re like me, you’d know the answer. Why? Because I’m brilliant. That’s a hint, btw).

As I went for the treat, I thought about the proximity effect in psychology, and then I thought what if we flipped that on it’s head? What if we put healthy treats in the cabinets?

That’s the beauty of the proximity effect. It works both ways. The easier it is to get to something, the more we will think of it and partake. It’s also the only reasonable explanation for the success of Jared Leto. Sorry. I know I should never judge someone, even that Joker.

Putting it into Effect

If you want to know how to increase motivation in your life to do the right things, follow the opposite proximity effect in psychology.

Do you want to eat healthier? Have good food in the fridge. Do you want to be more fit? Put hand weights in your living room, and have gym clothes out, ready for a walk. Are you interested in being smarter? Have my web page open on your browser. Are you hoping to be more humble? Yeah. I got nothing. Read a book, maybe?

You don’t have to make a whole bunch of changes. You can simply do one thing every day.

Whatever you want, use the proximity effect in psychology to your advantage. Put things near you that will focus you on achieving your goals. Surround yourself with the types of things that enhance the life you want to live. Put yourself in situations where you can share interpersonal likings with people that don’t creep you out. Do this, and you can be as brilliant as me.

Hahaha. I make myself laugh.

David Bishop

David is CEO of Cedowin Productions, dedicated to helping you live your best life through positive habits. He has inspired tens of thousands to improve habits and communication through books, articles, workshops, and apps.

He is the creator of AweVenture, helping families enjoy fantastic, active experiences and Zombie Goals, literally making building healthy habits a game. He’s authored several books including How to Create Amazing Presentations, 7 Steps to Better Relationships, and The Man in the Pit, which helps people who have loved ones struggling with depression.

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