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In the new study of desire regulation, 205 adults wore devices that recorded a total of 7,827 reports about their daily desires. Desires for sleep and sex were the strongest, while desires for media and work proved the hardest to resist. Even though tobacco and alcohol are thought of as addictive, desires associated with them were the weakest, according to the study. Surprisingly to the researchers, sleep and leisure were the most problematic desires, suggesting “pervasive tension between natural inclinations to rest and relax and the multitude of work and other obligations,” says Hofmann, the lead author of the study forthcoming in Psychological Science.
Moreover, the study supported past research that the more frequently and recently people have resisted a desire, the less successful they will be at resisting any subsequent desire. Therefore as a day wears on, willpower becomes lower and self-control efforts are more likely to fail, says Hofmann, who co-authored the paper with Roy Baumeister of Florida State University and Kathleen Vohs of the University of Minnesota.
Scientists who study the complex interplay between desires and self control say that passing up on temptation is made ever more difficult by the idea that there is no single or clear feeling that alerts us to when our willpower is low. “But we find that when willpower is low, everything is felt more intensely,” says Baumeister, author of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. “Low willpower seems to turn up the volume on life.” -Science Daily
Writing Prompt: Write your character’s internal monologue about resisting temptation.
Journaling Prompt: What strategies work for you in resisting temptation?
Art Prompt: Willpower
Photo Credit: Unfurled on Flickr
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