A new study from the University of Toronto Scarborough shows that while people have a harder time controlling themselves when tired, it doesn’t mean they’ve exhausted all of their willpower. The key to boosting self-control is finding pleasure in the necessary activities of life.
“When people are fatigued they experience a change in motivational priorities such that they are less willing to work for the things they feel obliged to do and more willing to work for things they like to do,” says Michael Inzlicht, professor in the Department of Psychology at UTSC and affiliate faculty at U of T’s School of Public Policy and Governance.
Inzlicht defines self-control as the mental processes that allow people to override thoughts and emotions in order to adapt their behavior from one moment to the next. The prevailing view in psychology has been that self-control is a limited resource where repeated acts of restraint exhaust supply until individuals are left with little to no willpower at all.
While it’s true that people tend to lose their focus after performing specific tasks over a period of time, Inzlicht says that is the result of a shift in priorities and not an absence of self-control. In fact, there may be ways to avoid hours of being unproductive when one’s energy and focus are low.
The important thing is to convert tasks from “have-to’s” into “want-to’s,” says Inzlicht. When that fails, it’s worth planning for the unavoidable ups and downs in motivation by steering clear of temptations and taking mental breaks in order to refresh.
For individuals with busy personal and professional lives this may be easier said than done, but certainly not impossible, notes Inzlicht.
“If someone wants to eat healthier they should think of the enjoyment they can get from eating delicious nutritious foods. They should not frame their eating goal as something they feel obliged to do because their doctor or spouse told them to do so,” he says. “The key is finding a way to want and like the goal you are chasing, just like the person who loves to jog as a way to relax or take a break.”
The study, which was co-authored by Brandon Schmeichel at Texas A & M University and Neil Macrae at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, is available online and will appear in the upcoming edition of Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
Online link: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364661313002945
For more information, contact:Michael Inzlicht
Dominic Ali | EurekAlert!
Amputees can learn to control a robotic arm with their minds
28.11.2017 | University of Chicago Medical Center
The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications
Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...
Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.
The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences
11.12.2017 | Information Technology