Don’t be shy of failure, as a new study claims that having the opportunity to learn from failure can turn it into a positive experience.
Giorgio Coricelli of the University of Southern California said that when we get enough information to contextualise the choices, the brain essentially reaches towards the reinforcement mechanism, instead of turning toward avoidance.
In the study, researchers engaged 28 subjects, each around 26 years old, in a series of questions that challenged them to maximise their gains by providing the right answers. If they chose a wrong answer, they lost money, while right answers helped them earn money.
One trial prompted their brains to respond to getting the wrong answer with avoidance learning. A second trial prompted a reward-based learning reaction, and a third but separate trial tested whether participants had learned from their mistakes, allowing them to review and understand what they got wrong.
In that third round, the participants responded positively, activating areas in their brains that some scientists call the ‘reward circuit.’
This experience mimicked the brain’s reward-based learning response – as opposed to an avoidance-learning response.
Coricelli said this process was similar to what the brain experiences when feeling regret, and added that with regret, people might change their behavior in the future.
The study is published in the Journal Nature Communications.