What’s the Latest Development?
Because research has found that a person’s willpower is a limited resource, apparently sapping the body’s energy as it is expended, it was believed that eating sugary foods could replenish the will’s strength. But a new study out of Stanford contradicts that belief, suggesting that people’s belief in the strength or weakness of their willpower is the primary determiner of its longevity. In an experiment, the researchers found that “volunteers who believed they needed a sugar drink to maintain willpower performed poorly if given an artificially sweetened drink—those who believed willpower was unlimited performed equally well regardless of the sweetener consumed.”
What’s the Big Idea?
Two subsequent experiments conducted by the Stanford researchers indicate that having confidence in one’s own willpower increases the likelihood of making positive, independent decisions. In a follow up to the first trial, “volunteers who had been led to believe willpower requires rejuvenating tended to do poorly…if they consumed an artificially sweetened drink, while those who had not needed no rejuvenation.” And in the final installment of the experiment, volunteers “who believed willpower needed rejuvenation lagged when given an artificially sweetened drink regardless of whether they knew what they were getting.”
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