chocolate chip cookies

Criminologists and sociologists have long believed that people commit violent crimes when an opportunity arises and they’re low on self-control. “It’s an impulsive kind of thing,” says Thomas F. Denson, a psychologist at the University of New South Wales. He cowrote the new article with C. Nathan DeWall at the University of Kentucky and Eli J. Finkel at Northwestern University. For the last 10 years or so, psychologists have joined this research, using new ways of manipulating self-control in experiments; they have found that, indeed, self-control and aggression are tightly linked.

A psychological scientist can deplete someone’s self-control by telling the subject they’re not allowed to take one of the cookies sitting in front of them. Studies have found that, after people have had to control themselves for a while, they behave more aggressively. In a 2009 study, after someone’s self-control was depleted, they were more likely to respond aggressively to nasty feedback that ostensibly came from their husband or girlfriend. Specifically, they assigned their partner to hold a painful yoga pose for longer. –Science Daily

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story where one person purposely depletes another’s self-control and what happens.

Journaling Prompt: What depletes your self-control and how do you react?

Art Prompt: Self-control

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: What aspects of modern life are depleting our self-control and leading to a generalized increase in aggressiveness?

Photo Credit: seriousbri on Flickr

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