The study, described in an article in the journal Motivation and Emotion, found that people primed with words suggesting action were more likely than others to make impulsive decisions that undermined their long-term goals. In contrast, those primed to “rest,” to “stop” or to be inactive found it easier to avoid impulsive decisions.
“Popular views of self-control maintain that individuals should ‘exert’ willpower, ‘fight’ temptations, ‘overcome’ desires and ‘control’ impulses when they want to successfully control their own behavior,” said University of Illinois graduate student Justin Hepler, who led the study with psychology professor Dolores Albarracín. “Ironically, in these situations people are often ‘fighting’ to do nothing – for example, they want to not eat a piece of cake.”“Those who try to be active may make wild, risky investments, for example, and persist in behaviors that clearly make them unsuccessful,” Albarracín said.
Hepler, Albarracín and colleagues at Idaho State University and the University of Southern Mississippi wanted to determine whether successful self-control involves the active, effortful pursuit of one’s goals, as some researchers have proposed, or whether one is more likely to succeed by “delay(ing) behavior until sufficient pre-action information processing has occurred,” as others suggest, the researchers wrote.
In a first experiment, the researchers exposed volunteer participants to words suggesting action (“start,” “active,” etc.) or inaction (“stop,” “pause,” etc.) and then tested their self-control by measuring their willingness to forego an immediate monetary reward in exchange for a larger, later one.
A second experiment also primed participants with action and inaction words and then tested their impulse control on a simple computer game.
“Overall, these experiments demonstrate that attempting to motivate oneself to be active in the face of temptations may actually lead to impulsive behaviors,” Hepler said. “On the other hand, becoming motivated for inaction or calming oneself down may be the best way to avoid impulsive decisions.”
“Of course, inaction words like ‘stop’ may induce effort directed at decreasing undesirable behavior,” Albarracín said. “But these inaction words have been shown to relax individuals, and our research suggests that the relaxed state is better at inhibiting the pull of temptations.”Editor’s notes: To reach Justin Hepler, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diana Yates | University of Illinois
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The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.
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The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
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Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
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The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
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