People who are better at resisting temptation purposely avoid putting themselves into situations where they could lose self-control, according to a new study in Personality and Individual Differences.
For the study, researchers at Florida State University conducted an experiment with 38 students ages 18 to 23. The participants rated their self-control on a 13-point scale. Half of the students were categorized as having above-average self-control, while the other half were categorized as below average.
How to build up your willpower
The students were told they would be completing an anagram and could either solve the puzzle in a noisy student lounge immediately or wait for a period of time and complete the anagram in a quiet lab. Of the students who rated themselves with above-average self-control, 53% chose to wait for the lab and 47% chose to use the lounge. By comparison, 37% of those with below-average self-control chose the lab and 63% chose the lounge.
In a separate experiment, 53 participants ages 18 to 60 were asked to rate themselves in self-control on a 13-point scale and to complete and online intelligence assessment. They were told they could take the test in a standard black-and-white format or a stylized version with artwork on the side panels. They were told the artwork would change periodically and could become distracting.
A step toward curbing temptation? New rules will require calorie counts on almost everything
Sixty-seven percent of respondents with high self-control chose the standard version, compared with 33% who selected the stylized one. By comparison, 43% of individuals with low self-control chose the standard version and 57% picked the stylized version.
According to researchers, the study suggests that people with higher self-control participate in "proactive avoidance" and do not put themselves in situations in which they might experience temptation (Lukits, Wall Street Journal, 11/24).
Next in the Daily Briefing
CMS gives hospitals more time to attest to meaningful use