Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Want To Resist Temptation? A New Study Suggests Thinking Might Not Always Help You

27.10.2011
Here comes temptation—for a dieter, it’s a sweet treat; an alcoholic, a beer; a married man, an attractive, available woman. How to defeat the impulse to gratify desire and stick to your long-term goals of slimness, sobriety, or fidelity?

Here’s some advice: Don’t stop and think. Thinking may not help.

That is one surprising conclusion of a new study by Loran Nordgren and Eileen Chou at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Nordgren and Chou wanted to make sense of two contradictory bodies of literature. “One shows that the presence of temptation contorts cognition in ways that promotes impulsive behavior,” says Nordgren. Another shows that “temptation engages protective [thought] processes that promote self-control. You show a dieter a piece of cake, and an early thought is ‘I’m dieting’—and ‘no thanks.’”

Both stories leave out a crucial factor, he says: the interaction between temptation and “visceral state”—hunger, thirst, sexual desire, satiation or craving—which “dictates whether the same cognitive processes will be oriented toward impulsive behavior or self-control.”

The researchers looked at different cognitive mechanisms, including attention and “motivated valuation”—how much we care about something depending on other rewards—to see how temptation affected them. In one experiment, 49 male students in committed relationships watched either an erotic film, putting them in an aroused (“hot” visceral) state; or a filmed fashion show, creating a “cool” state. The experimenters then showed them images of attractive women and observed how long they gazed at them. A week later, the procedure was the same, but the men were told the women were incoming students—thus, available. This time, the aroused men gazed longer. More temptation promoted less fidelity. The cool-state men did the opposite.

In a second study, some of 53 smokers were instructed to smoke directly before the experiment, while the rest abstained for three hours. Then both the satiated and craving groups rated the pleasure of smoking, showing how much they valued cigarettes. Phase two, same conditions, same question—and a choice: Delay smoking for 40 minutes and earn 3 Euros or smoke immediately and earn nothing. Predictably, the sated smokers more readily delay gratification. But they also rated the pleasure of smoking lower than the first time, whereas the cravers rated it higher. The “cool” group gave themselves reasons to wait; the “hot,” to indulge.

What does all this tell us? “If we think of the reason versus passion struggle, we tend to think that cognition serves long-term interests and passion serves immediate gratification—the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other,” Nordgren explains. “We also think that if you are horny or hungry, your thoughts—the angel—are in the right place, but you give into temptation—the devil.

“This is not accurate, actually. Yes, need or desire abets impulsivity, but it also corrupts the cognitive processes that would help you interrupt that behavior,” Nordgren concludes. “When you’re craving and being tempted, your rationalization succumbing and so, in a hot state, you have the devil on both shoulders.”

For more information about this study, please contact: Loran F. Nordgren at L-nordgren@kellogg.northwestern.edu.

The APS journal Psychological Science is the highest ranked empirical journal in psychology. For a copy of the article "The push and pull of temptation: The bi-directional influence of temptation on self-control" and access to other Psychological Science research findings, please contact Divya Menon at 202-293-9300 or dmenon@psychologicalscience.org.

Divya Menon | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psychologicalscience.org

Further reports about: Nordgren Psychological Science Science TV Temptation Thinking psychological

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht ECG procedure indicates whether an implantable defibrillator will extend a patient's life
02.09.2019 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Fracking prompts global spike in atmospheric methane
14.08.2019 | European Geosciences Union

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Stevens team closes in on 'holy grail' of room temperature quantum computing chips

Photons interact on chip-based system with unprecedented efficiency

To process information, photons must interact. However, these tiny packets of light want nothing to do with each other, each passing by without altering the...

Im Focus: Happy hour for time-resolved crystallography

Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Hamburg and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) outstation in the city have developed a new method to watch biomolecules at work. This method dramatically simplifies starting enzymatic reactions by mixing a cocktail of small amounts of liquids with protein crystals. Determination of the protein structures at different times after mixing can be assembled into a time-lapse sequence that shows the molecular foundations of biology.

The functions of biomolecules are determined by their motions and structural changes. Yet it is a formidable challenge to understand these dynamic motions.

Im Focus: Modular OLED light strips

At the International Symposium on Automotive Lighting 2019 (ISAL) in Darmstadt from September 23 to 25, 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, will present OLED light strips of any length with additional functionalities for the first time at booth no. 37.

Almost everyone is familiar with light strips for interior design. LED strips are available by the metre in DIY stores around the corner and are just as often...

Im Focus: Tomorrow´s coolants of choice

Scientists assess the potential of magnetic-cooling materials

Later during this century, around 2060, a paradigm shift in global energy consumption is expected: we will spend more energy for cooling than for heating....

Im Focus: The working of a molecular string phone

Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Potsdam (both in Germany) and the University of Toronto (Canada) have pieced together a detailed time-lapse movie revealing all the major steps during the catalytic cycle of an enzyme. Surprisingly, the communication between the protein units is accomplished via a water-network akin to a string telephone. This communication is aligned with a ‘breathing’ motion, that is the expansion and contraction of the protein.

This time-lapse sequence of structures reveals dynamic motions as a fundamental element in the molecular foundations of biology.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Society 5.0: putting humans at the heart of digitalisation

10.09.2019 | Event News

Interspeech 2019 conference: Alexa and Siri in Graz

04.09.2019 | Event News

AI for Laser Technology Conference: optimizing the use of lasers with artificial intelligence

29.08.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

UMD-led study captures six galaxies undergoing sudden, dramatic transitions

19.09.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Study points to new drug target in fight against cancer

19.09.2019 | Health and Medicine

New tool improves beekeepers' overwintering odds and bottom line

19.09.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>