The expense of willpower

The expense of willpower

Last week I came across a very interesting article,┬áinvolving an experiment investigating the link between cognitive processing and willpower. I suppose you could also describe it as ‘the likelihood of rewarding yourself, after your brain has had to work hard’.

The experiment involved 165 grad students. One group were asked to memorise two numbers; a pretty easy task, whereas the other group were asked to memorise seven numbers. After completing the task, the students were then asked to choose a snack of their choice – either a small bowl of fruit or a slice of chocolate cake.

The students who had to memorise seven numbers were over 50% more likely to choose the chocolate cake.

After performing a more difficult task, the level of willpower within the students had decreased, showing that self-control and cognitive tasks drain energy from the same tank.

I’m not saying that this is the sole reason I choose to eat cake about three times a day, but it makes me feel better to think that it probably contributes. I guess it could also show that I work pretty hard?

It’s not just work related though – demolish a level on Candy Crush, then an entire Toberlone. Sounds legit to me! BOOM.

That article also goes on to review dog behaviour, I highly recommend giving it a good read!