Navigation Links
Choices Sap Your Stamina, Self Control: Study
Date:4/18/2008

Experiments point to the brain-draining effects of decision-making

FRIDAY, April 18 (HealthDay News) -- From "paper or plastic" to 31 flavors of ice cream, people's lives are full of choices. Now, new research suggests that facing too many decisions can sap your stamina, your ability to stay focused and even maintain self-control.

A number of experiments have shown that people faced with a variety of choices had more trouble later when they had to figure out whether to take risky actions.

"If people have a day or period of time in which they are making many choices, they will be vulnerable to low self-control," said study lead author Kathleen Vohs, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota. This could lead "to overeating, overdrinking, overspending, losing one's temper, and procrastination."

Vohs and her colleagues created several experiments to gauge the effects of multiple choices. Their findings are published in the April issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

In one experiment, 18 women were told to choose among a variety of products, including T-shirts, scented candles, shampoos and others. Another 20 women didn't make choices but were asked to consider their preferences.

Both groups were then asked to drink an unpleasant-tasting concoction -- an orange drink mixed with vinegar and water -- in return for a nickel for each ounce consumed.

"We found that when people had been making choices, they drank less than when people had just been thinking about their preferences," Vohs said.

This suggests that those who didn't make choices had more capacity for "self control," Vohs said.

In other experiments, the researchers found that making choices made it tougher for participants to perform well on a math test, avoid distractions and take action regarding a malfunctioning videotape.

Paul J. Zak, director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University in California, said the study is "suggestive but not conclusive" in its findings.

It's true, however, that choosing is difficult, he added. "Think of those fancy restaurants that have a small menu. It's often refreshing not to have to read through eight pages of choices. Having said that, lack of choice is very constraining," he said.

Overall, "freedom means a lot of choice, but too much can be overwhelming, even outside the choice set itself," Zak said. "This adds fuel to the idea that humans have evolved for simplicity, at least in the short run."

However, the brain's cognitive powers probably "reset" themselves pretty fast after making a choice, Zak said, adding, "My guess is on the order of minutes."

Brad Sagarin, an associate professor of psychology at Northern Illinois University, agreed that the brain-sapping effects of choice-making aren't permanent. "The basic idea is that self-regulation is a limited resource that can be temporarily exhausted, and that making choices is one activity that can exhaust this resource. However, the resource replenishes with time," he said.

So what should the choice-challenged do?

"Keep in mind that the process of making choices is not cost-free," Sagarin said. "It can exhaust an important resource that we might well need for other pursuits. Choices are an inevitable aspect of modern life. But this research suggests that we might not want to take on additional choices unnecessarily."

More information

To learn more about the human brain, visit the U.S. National Institutes of Health.



SOURCES: Kathleen Vohs, Ph.D., McKnight Land-Grant Professor, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; Paul J. Zak, Ph.D., director, Center for Neuroeconomics Studies, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, Calif.; Brad Sagarin, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb; April 2008, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology


'/>"/>
Copyright©2008 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Grocery Shoppers Are Following Stars to More Nutritious Choices
2. FDA: Use the Nutrition Facts Label to Make Healthy Food Choices
3. ADA Calls for Scientifically Accurate Patient Brochure Explaining Filling Choices
4. New UIC center to study drug choices, safety
5. ACS Launches Product to Help Employers Navigate Health Choices For Employees Entering Retirement Years
6. Video: New Web Site Helps Consumers and Employers Make Smart Choices on Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)
7. New choices for patients: Transfusion-free medicine for Jehovahs Witnesses and transfusion-wary
8. Everyday Choices Can Influence Cancer Risk
9. Lifestyle and cancer prevention: Making choices that change cancer risk
10. Congressman Tom Reynolds Awarded for Protecting Medicare Choices
11. NHS Choices Releases New Health A-Z Index
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:1/20/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... January 20, 2017 , ... Michael and ... Dana Farber Cancer Institute. For Betsy, the clinical trial has been life-saving as ... has not worsened. , Betsy Brauser was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009. ...
(Date:1/20/2017)... New York, NY (PRWEB) , ... January 20, ... ... drinks – VW+ 001 and its sugar-free alternative VW+ 002. The drinks have ... the body with optimal conditions to perform during your workout. , After a ...
(Date:1/20/2017)... ... January 20, 2017 , ... “The Angel”: a heartwarming and earnest ... for each of his children. “The Angel” is the creation of published author, Marjorie ... York City, and impassioned writer. , When asked of her new book, Marjorie says, ...
(Date:1/20/2017)... ... ... fine examination of how God handles sin, including how to let go of lingering guilt ... over ten long years has been waiting to release this powerful insight about forgiveness that ... serving the Lord for over twenty years, and he has been preaching and teaching the ...
(Date:1/20/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... January 20, 2017 , ... “Christmas in ... creation of published author, Sara Seymour, who lives in Lafayette, Indiana where she works ... sips on iced coffees and writes. , Published by Christian Faith Publishing, Sara Seymour’s ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:1/19/2017)... James Gilbart , ... 2016;12(Suppl 2):3-8; http://www.touchoncology.com/articles/optimising-clinical-outcomes-gastrointestinal-cancers-through-inhibiting-angiogenesis-and ... ... recently in a supplement to European Oncology & ... article by James Gilbart and ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... -- ViewRay, Inc. (Nasdaq: VRAY) announced today that the German ... Germany , has purchased a MRIdian ... Clinic Heidelberg as part of its initiative for MRI-based ... be headed by Medical Director and Professor Jürgen Debus, ... German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the Heidelberg Heavy Ion ...
(Date:1/19/2017)... PALO ALTO, Calif. , Jan. 19, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... scientific research, is excited to announce that the ... Project: Cancer Biology  (RP:CB) have been published in ... science, this project represents the first practical evaluation ... that result in reproducible studies. Unlike other assessments ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: