Positive Password Psychology

November 14, 2016 | Bob Covello
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There was an interesting study conducted some years ago. In that study, young participants were asked a series of questions. The ostensible purpose of the study was to find out the answers to the questions. As with most of those cheeky study authors, the real purpose was to measure the effect of “behavioral priming”.

The questions in the interview were written so that some participants were exposed to words such as “sentimental”, “retired”, and similarly worded questions related to the concept of “being old”. What the participants did not know is that a person was positioned in the hallway who measured the speed at which the participants walked when they entered and exited the interview. The participants exposed to the “old” words walked slower when exiting the interview. (I told you those authors were cheeky!)

The study indicated that behavior could be altered by priming one’s thoughts, hence behavioral priming. To be fair, some more recent studies have found fault with the original work, yet no one disputes that “priming” is a legitimate phenomenon.

Now, think about your own priming behaviors. What makes you happy in the morning, or throughout the day? In typical super-human behavior, we all have our own “fortresses of solitude” to which we retreat to keep a positive mood and reduced stress.

Imagine if your password can prime your mood for a more positive experience.

The results of a recent (non-public) password dump revealed that many people are unhappy with passwords. Some of the more sardonic examples include: PasswordsSuck!, and “IHatePasswords.” I feel your pain.

While passwords may be a bane, and we are all sick of hearing about how to create strong passwords, have you considered how you may use a password to prime yourself towards a positive frame of mind?

When you consider how often you have to type in your password during the day to log in, or to unlock your computer screen, you can create a strong password that also primes you to do your best work.

Try a couple out like these and see if they work for you:

*HereComesTheSun*

#AMomentOfGratitude#

~DanceAsIfNoOneIsWatching~

I feel more positive just reading those!

With what we know about “priming”, it is not difficult to see how a negative-based password can affect your mood and possibly your approach to your next task. Do you really want to write an E-mail to a client immediately after typing how much you hate passwords (or anything negative for that matter)?

This may sound too “new-agey” (and perhaps even – gasp! – too hipster) at first, but please give it a try and see if it alters your approach even slightly. Simple, yet positive priming with the right password may not only make for a stronger password, but for a better work day!

Bob Covello

About the Author: Bob Covello, Guest Blogger
Bob Covello (@BobCovello) is a 20-year technology veteran and InfoSec analyst with a passion for security topics. He is also a volunteer for various organizations focused on advocating for and advising others about staying safe and secure online.
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