The findings, published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, suggest remembering the hardships of grandparents, great grandparents and even long forgotten ancestors, seems to have a direct benefit on the brain’s ability to cope with demands on its intelligence.
Fiona Bruce traced her ancestors on TV show Who Do You Think You Are? Researchers claim thinking about your ancestors can boost your chances of success in an exam or job interview
It seems an unlikely route to the top.
But researchers have discovered that spending a few minutes thinking about your ancestors before an exam or job interview can significantly boost your chances of success.
The so-called ‘ancestor effect’ appears to work by acting as a reminder to the brain that seemingly impossible hurdles can be overcome.
Psychologists think the effect may be rooted in the fact that those who familiarise themselves with their family history – such as in the hit TV series Who Do You Think You Are? – appear to gain a stronger sense of identity and self-esteem, which somehow boosts intellectual performance.
In intelligence tests on 80 volunteers, scientists found a marked improvement among those who, prior to the tasks, were asked to spend a short while considering what previous generations of their families had endured.
Those who simply had to recall a more mundane memory, such as a recent shopping trip, did not fare as well.