Need a study break? Maybe not

by admin on 10/14/10 at 11:47 am

Originally posted in the Stanford Report by Adam Gorlick on October 14, 2010.

CarolDweckClayman Affiliate Carol Dweck was an author on a paper published in this week’s Psychological Science that challenges the long-held belief that willpower is a finite resource that is depleted during arduous tasks. The need to ‘recharge’ by taking a break is instead a function of individual belief and mindset, the authors argue.

“Willpower isn’t driven by a biologically based process as much as we used to think. The belief in it is what influences your behavior,” said assistant professor Greg Walton, another author on the study. Lead author Veronika Job clarified; “If you think of willpower as something that’s biologically limited, you’re more likely to be tired when you perform a difficult task. But if you think of willpower as something that is not easily depleted, you can go on and on.”

The researchers examined Stanford students for the study. After completing a tiring exercise, students who believed, or were primed to believe, that they had more control over their willpower performed better on standard concentration tests than those who viewed willpower as limited. The also found that students who prescribed to the ‘limited resource’ theory of willpower also procrastinated more and ate more junk food while studying for final exams.

These findings could help those recovering from addiction or facing other personal challenges that require large amounts of willpower. “The theory that willpower is a limited resource is interesting, but it has had unintended consequences,” said Dweck. “… a belief in willpower as a non-limited resource makes people stronger in their ability to work through challenges.”

To see the full story, click here.

Share »
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Digg

print article

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply