Writing about important values can make people feel better and more receptive to advice according to researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In one study the researchers asked participants to rank six values - social life, religion/morality, science, business, arts and government - in order of importance. One group later wrote for ten minutes about why their most important value was important to them and the other group wrote about why their least important value might be important to others. The second study followed the same procedure but some of the participants were smokers and all the participants later read an article about the health effects of smoking. In both studies those who wrote about an important value felt more loving and connected and in the second study those smokers who wrote about an important value were less defensive and more accepting of the content of the article. The researchers thought that writing about what they loved and cared for enabled people to transcend the self and could help foster learning under difficult circumstances; something that might prove useful in the treatment of addictive behaviours.
You can find out more about this research at