Eskreis-Winkler and Fishbach similarly found that 72% of people struggling to save money said that giving advice motivated them to save money more than receiving tips from experts at America Saves; 77% of adults struggling with anger management said they were more motivated to control their temper after giving anger management advice than they were after receiving advice from professional psychologists at the American Psychological Association; and 72% of adults struggling to lose weight said that giving weight loss advice made them feel more confident about shedding pounds than did receiving advice from a seasoned nutritionist at the Mayo Clinic.
Even more surprisingly, experiment participants were completely unaware of the effectiveness of giving advice. “They consistently expected themselves and others to be less motivated by giving advice than receiving it,” Fishbach tells Quartz.
This false expectation is likely driven by the presumption that underperformance is the result of lacking knowledge. In fact, unmotivated people often know what they need to do to succeed, they just don’t take action. “For example, people think that failed dieters don’t have information on effective diets,” Fishbach says. “But the truth is that failed dieters know quite a bit, only don’t apply their knowledge to action.”
Giving advice, as opposed to receiving it, appears to help unmotivated people feel powerful because it involves reflecting on knowledge that they already have. So if you’re completely clueless about the resources or strategies necessary for progress, asking for help is probably the best first step. But if you (like most of us), know what you need to do, but are having trouble actually doing it, giving someone advice may be the push you need.