Spending a few minutes thinking about your ancestors before an exam or job interview can significantly boost your chances of success, according to scientists at the University of Graz in Austria.
The so-called 'ancestor effect' appears to work by acting as a reminder to the brain that seemingly impossible hurdles can be overcome, reports the Daily Mail.
Psychologists think the effect may be rooted in the fact that those who familiarize themselves with their family history appear to gain a stronger sense of identity and self-esteem, which somehow boosts intellectual performance.
To test their theory, the scientist team asked 80 students to spend 5 minutes thinking about their 15th century ancestors, their great-grandparents or a recent trip to the shops.
Immediately afterwards, the students were asked how confident they felt about upcoming exams. The group that remembered lost generations was more confident about their chances of success.
The students then underwent a range of intelligence tests. In one, the 'ancestor effect' boosted scores to 14 out of a maximum 16, compared with just ten out of 16 in the rival group.
The study was published in the European Journal of Social Psychology.