Tagself-control

Self-Control Is Exhaustible

self-control

Psychologists have discovered that self-control is an exhaustible resource. And I don’t mean self-control only in the sense of turning down cookies or alcohol, I mean a broader sense of self-supervision—any time you’re paying close attention to your actions, like when you’re having a tough conversation or trying to stay focused on a paper you’re writing. This helps to explain why, after a long hard day at the office, we’re more likely to snap at our spouses or have one drink too many—we’ve depleted our self-control.

And here’s why this matters for change: In almost all change situations, you’re substituting new, unfamiliar behaviors for old, comfortable ones, and that burns self-control. Let’s say I present a new morning routine to you that specifies how you’ll shower and brush your teeth. You’ll understand it and you might even agree with my process. But to pull it off, you’ll have to supervise yourself very carefully. Every fiber of your being will want to go back to the old way of doing things. Inevitably, you’ll slip. And if I were uncharitable, I’d see you going back to the old way and I’d say, You’re so lazy. Why can’t you just change?

Fast Company: Self-Control Is Exhaustible

Unfortunately, the blogger doesn’t cite what specific study or studies this refers to.

See also: Self-control is contagious, study finds

(via Zards)

New Paper Pinpoints a Seat of Self-Control in the Brain

Prefrontal cortex

The ability to delay gratification allows humans to accomplish such goals as saving for retirement, going to the gym regularly and choosing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In a paper published March 28 in the journal Nature Neuroscience, a team of researchers for the first time causally shows that this ability is rooted in a part of the frontal lobe of the brain: the prefrontal cortex.

Science Daily: New Paper Pinpoints a Seat of Self-Control in the Brain

Self-control is contagious, study finds

smart hulk

Before patting yourself on the back for resisting that cookie or kicking yourself for giving in to temptation, look around. A new University of Georgia study has revealed that self-control — or the lack thereof — is contagious.

In a just-published series of studies involving hundreds of volunteers, researchers have found that watching or even thinking about someone with good self-control makes others more likely exert self-control. The researchers found that the opposite holds, too, so that people with bad self-control influence others negatively. The effect is so powerful, in fact, that seeing the name of someone with good or bad self-control flashing on a screen for just 10 milliseconds changed the behavior of volunteers.

“The take home message of this study is that picking social influences that are positive can improve your self-control,” said lead author Michelle vanDellen, a visiting assistant professor in the UGA department of psychology. “And by exhibiting self-control, you’re helping others around you do the same.”

PhysOrg: Self-control is contagious, study finds

(via Social Physicist)

Mechanisms Of Self-control Pinpointed In Brain

When you’re on a diet, deciding to skip your favorite calorie-laden foods and eat something healthier takes a whole lot of self-control–an ability that seems to come easier to some of us than others. Now, scientists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have uncovered differences in the brains of people who are able to exercise self-control versus those who find it almost impossible.

The key? While everyone uses the same single area of the brain to make these sorts of value-laden decisions, a second brain region modulates the activity of the first region in people with good self-control, allowing them to weigh more abstract factors–healthiness, for example–in addition to basic desires such as taste to make a better overall choice.

These findings not only provide insight into the interplay between self-control and decisionmaking in dieters, but may explain how we make any number of decisions that require some degree of willpower. […]

The next step, the researchers say, is to come up with ways to engage the DLPFC in the decisions made by people with poor self-control under normal conditions. For instance, Hare says, it might be possible to kick the DLPFC into gear by making the health qualities of foods more salient for people, rather than asking them to make the effort to judge a food’s health benefits on their own. “If we highlight the fact that ice cream is unhealthy just before we offer it,” he notes, “maybe we can reduce its value in advance, give the person a head start to making a better decision.”

Science Daily: Mechanisms Of Self-control Pinpointed In Brain

(via OVO)

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