Will you or Won't you? A study in Willpower

You know all those things you mean to do? Remember that feeling of resolve to change something for the better? How many times have you sworn you'll start jogging in the mornings, you'll eat a salad everyday for lunch, and you'll call grandma every weekend? Furthermore - how many times have you followed through?

You have probably learned from experience that there is a distinct difference between knowing what you should do, and actually doing it. According to psychologist Richard Wiseman, out of every resolution we make, only 88% will succeed. Don't be too hard on yourself though, because now science suggests weak willpower is not entirely our fault:  Blame it on the prefrontal cortex.

Sample Image 

This area of the brain, located directly behind the forehead, is the region that has grown the most throughout the history of humanity, and it also happens to be the source of our willpower. Unfortunately, according to studies, it seems we still have some growing to do there.  

An experiment at Stanford University involved several dozen students divided among two groups. Each person in the first group was given a unique two digit number, while each person in the second group was given a unique seven digit number. Both groups were told to take as long as they needed to memorize their number and then to proceed to another room.

Before they got to the other room however, they were invited to enjoy a snack as a reward for their participation - a slice of chocolate cake or a bowl of fruit salad. This of course, was the real test - and it turns out that an extra five digits to remember was all it took for the participants to forget what was best for them. Those with seven digit numbers were twice as likely to choose cake as those with a two digit number.

Sample Image    VS   Sample Image

Apparently, the brain's ability to ration and reason only goes so far. It can only handle so much "cognitive load". This may explain why we often reach for junk food after a long day at work. It seems you can either use your mental abilities for remembering facts, or you can use them to decide which snack is the best choice for you. Choose wisely!




Go on facebook!

Follow us on facebook
and keep up to date
with latest news
and activities

You are now being logged in using your Facebook credentials