Don't think of a purple cow! What are you currently thinking about? Does it make "muh" and chocolate? Then you could have fallen for a so-called “ironic process”: If we make a decision not to think about something, this very thought can really haunt us.

Purple Cow

The desire for control

Purple cows are the least of them Problem. But how often do we want our life checkby not doing something, for example not eating the whole bar of chocolate right away?

Or think of something, for example, just before falling asleep to the insolent sayings of the colleague of this morning? Whoever wants to control his life in this way should at least know something more about the phenomenon of the ironic process.

The White Bear Experiment

Tip: You can also use this text as a PDF or an eCourse on the subject download. You can also find it in the shop exciting discount deals, more offers & news in Newsletter! (Advertising)

In the classic experiment, subjects are asked not to think of a white bear. Then they should let their so-called "Stream of Consciousness" run free for five minutes:

Thinking out loud all the time and chattering everything that is in your mind right now Sense is coming. So what some of our esteemed fellow human beings do all day anyway. Every time they say or think "white bear", they should ring a bell on the table in front of them.

You may, so you think!

Then you turn the instructions: Now the subjects are thinking quite specifically about a white bear. And once again make their stream of consciousness and again the bell ring when the white bear emerges.

Different groups get these two instructions in different order: Group 1 should first suppress the thought of the bear, then consciously think of the white bear. Group 2 should first deliberately think of the white bear and then banish the white bear from their thoughts.

Thoughts can not be suppressed

No one succeeds in suppressing his thoughts: On average, at least once a minute, the subjects think of the forbidden bear, while they should not. This is quite often for something you do not want to do!

But what is particularly interesting is: Who is in group 1, so to suppress the white bear first, who thinks afterwards much more often to the bear than someone who has from the outset the task as often as possible to think of the animal - ie in group 2 is.

Relapse in the brain

Apparently it has Brain a pent-up need when it has been trying to suppress a thought for a while:

It suffers a regular relapse, in which it thinks much more often the prohibited thoughts than before. If we oppress something, then this effort will have an effect on its opposite.

Top books on the subject

Read text as PDF

Acquire this text as a PDF (only for own use without passing it on according to Terms & Conditions): Please send us one after purchase eMail with the desired title, we will then send the PDF to you immediately. You can also purchase text series.


Book eCourse on Demand

Up to 30 lessons with 4 learning tasks each + final lesson as a PDF download. Please send us one after purchase eMail with the desired title Alternatively, we would be happy to put your course together for you or offer you a personal, regular one eMail-Course - all further information!


Skate eBook as desired

If our store does not offer you your desired topic: We will be happy to put together a book according to your wishes and deliver it in a format of yours Wahl. Please sign us after purchase


Corporate publishing and advice

You want to publish, increase your reach or as an employer Candidate speak to? For these and other topics we offer special Consultant packages (overview) - For example, a personal phone call (price is per hour).