akashiver: (Default)
[personal profile] akashiver

Here's an interesting article: Do you suffer from decision fatigue?

The idea that willpower is finite was familiar to me, but other parts were not:

To establish cause and effect, researchers at Baumeister’s lab tried refueling the brain in a series of experiments involving lemonade mixed either with sugar or with a diet sweetener. The sugary lemonade provided a burst of glucose, the effects of which could be observed right away in the lab; the sugarless variety tasted quite similar without providing the same burst of glucose. Again and again, the sugar restored willpower, but the artificial sweetener had no effect. 

 
This might seem to explain the "weight gain" problem connected with diet drinks. (Yes, I know: take a whole salt lick with that one.) To quote from a different part of the article:

[Dieters are] trapped in a nutritional catch-22:

1. In order not to eat, a dieter needs willpower.
2. In order to have willpower, a dieter needs to eat.

As the body uses up glucose, it looks for a quick way to replenish the fuel, leading to a craving for sugar. After performing a lab task requiring self-control, people tend to eat more candy but not other kinds of snacks, like salty, fatty potato chips. The mere expectation of having to exert self-control makes people hunger for sweets. 
 

And then there's this:

Spears and other researchers argue that this sort of decision fatigue is a major — and hitherto ignored — factor in trapping people in poverty. Because their financial situation forces them to make so many trade-offs, they have less willpower to devote to school, work and other activities that might get them into the middle class.

....Spears urges sympathy for someone who makes decisions all day on a tight budget. In one study, he found that when the poor and the rich go shopping, the poor are much more likely to eat during the shopping trip. This might seem like confirmation of their weak character.... But if a trip to the supermarket induces more decision fatigue in the poor than in the rich ... by the time they reach the cash register, they’ll have less willpower left to resist the Mars bars and Skittles. 
 

Interesting, no?
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December 2015

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