The Ancestor Effect!

family tree graphicThinking about your ancestors makes you smarter!
Recent research at the University of Graz has identified an “ancestor effect.” Individuals who think about their ancestors just prior to a job interview or college exam boost their chances of success. Dr. Peter Fischer hypothesizes that “thinking about one’s origins . . . provides people with a positive psychological resource.” In other words, reminding the brain of the difficulties your ancestors overcame, you are able to approach a task with a stronger sense of identity and self-esteem—an edge that can make a measurable difference, which is probably why families continue to tell stories that emphasize how hard it used to be, how lucky we are now, blah, blah, blah, etc, etc, etc.
Is there a family that doesn’t tell their stories that way?


Filed under Definition, Family history, Family Stories, Old Storytelling Traditions, Why Stories?

6 responses to “The Ancestor Effect!

  1. Indira Ganesan

    This is fantastic, Jerrie! It makes sense, too. There are so many times I might have thought of my ancestors to boost my self-esteem! Now I know for the next job interview. My selfishness aside, it makes sense to keep thoughts of family/family in our minds for so many things, which is of course is the purpose of your blog!

  2. I had read about this a few weeks ago, but I didn’t really stop to think about it. I think it is true, and especially reading your blog and other genealogy bloggers I see that we are all on the right track!

  3. I’m a parent who didn’t share family stories that way because my son never was at all interested in them. His “family” were his Masters or the Universe and other charactersm but when I tried to talk about my own childhood or things my parents told me, he had no interest. If he turns out not to be a roaring success in life, maybe that’s the reason.

  4. I suspect it depends on your family history as to whether thinking about them would boost self-esteem. There are many possible scenarios, it would seem!

  5. The older I get, the more I think of and feel grateful for the efforts of my ancestors. Most of them really had to scramble to move forward with their lives. I also feel deepening compassion for those who caused pain to others because they were in such pain themselves. I draw inspiration from all of them, and like to picture them beaming at me from Awareness, where they sit in lawn chairs, Martinis in hand, looking out at the ocean (kind of sounds like Bermuda!).

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