M&Ms Sorted by Color

We may joke about OCD, but we all have little ritualistic behaviors that we may not even be aware of doing. Why do we do them?

Almost every human and animal activity can be divided into three parts, Prof. Eilam explains — “preparatory,” “functional,” and “confirmatory.” The functional aspect is defined by the specific actions that must occur in order to complete a task. But the preparatory and confirmatory actions, dubbed “head” and “tail” actions by the researchers, are not strictly required in order to get the job done. We complete them both before and after the central task, but they are not necessarily related to it. Individuals complete different head and tail activities for every task.

During the course of their study, Prof. Eilam and his fellow researchers watched and analyzed videotapes of people completing common tasks, such as putting on a shirt, locking a car, or making coffee, as well as basketball players completing a free-throw. In the case of basketball players, explains Prof. Eilam, all they actually need to do to complete their action is throw the ball. So why the preceding ritualistic behavior, such as bouncing the ball precisely six times?

“The routine they perform in the moments before shooting the ball is a method to focus their full concentration and control their actions.” Prof. Eilam says. It’s also an essential part of sports psychology. If players feel that completing their repetitive actions will enhance their performance, they tend to be more successful. This could include anything from locker room antics to LeBron James’ infamous pre-game chalk toss. –Science Daily

Writing Prompt: Write a scene with a character using a ritualistic behavior they believe will help them be successful.

Journaling Prompt: What little habits do you use as rituals?

Art Prompt: Ritual

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the power of setting daily rituals to create a change in your life.

Photo Credit: Mr. T in DC on Flickr

2 Responses to Prompt #213 Ritualistic Behavior

  1. Leah says:

    Your photo reminds me of a memoir written about a girl with OCD. It was written by Jennifer Traig but I can’t quite remember the title. But the book cover featured perfectly lined up colored M&Ms.
    Leah recently posted..The Writer Behind “Daughter of the Drunk at the Bar”My Profile

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