Navigation Links
Need a study break to refresh? Maybe not, say Stanford researchers
Date:10/14/2010

It could happen to students cramming for exams, people working long hours or just about anyone burning the candle at both ends: Something tells you to take a break. Watch some TV. Have a candy bar. Goof off, tune out for a bit and come back to the task at hand when you're feeling better. After all, you're physically exhausted.

But a new study from Stanford psychologists suggests the urge to refresh (or just procrastinate) is well all in your head.

In a paper published this week in Psychological Science, the researchers challenge a long-held theory that willpower defined as the ability to resist temptation and stay focused on a demanding task is a limited resource. Scientists have argued that when willpower is drained, the only way to restore it is by recharging our bodies with rest, food or some other physical distraction that takes you away from whatever is burning you out.

Not so, says the Stanford team. Instead, they've found that a person's mindset and personal beliefs about willpower determine how long and how well they'll be able to work on a tough mental exercise.

"If you think of willpower as something that's biologically limited, you're more likely to be tired when you perform a difficult task," said Veronika Job, the paper's lead author. "But if you think of willpower as something that is not easily depleted, you can go on and on."

Job, who conducted her research at Stanford and is now a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Zurich, co-authored the paper with Stanford psychology Professor Carol Dweck and Assistant Professor Greg Walton.

The researchers designed a series of four experiments to test and manipulate Stanford students' beliefs about willpower. After a tiring task, those who believed or were led to believe that willpower is a limited resource performed worse on standard concentration tests than those who thought of willpower as something they had more control over.

They also found that leading up to final exam week, students who bought into the limited resource theory ate junk food 24 percent more often than those who believed they had more control in resisting temptation. The limited resource believers also procrastinated 35 percent more than the other group.

"The theory that willpower is a limited resource is interesting, but it has had unintended consequences," Dweck said. "Students who may already have trouble studying are being told that their powers of concentration are limited and they need to take frequent breaks. But a belief in willpower as a non-limited resource makes people stronger in their ability to work through challenges."

The Stanford researchers say their findings could help people who are battling distraction or temptation: diabetics following strict diets, people trying to overcome addictions, employees facing a tight deadline.

"This is an example of a context where people's theories are driving outcomes," Walton said. "Willpower isn't driven by a biologically based process as much as we used to think. The belief in it is what influences your behavior."


'/>"/>

Contact: Adam Gorlick
agorlick@stanford.edu
650-725-0224
Stanford University
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. National Institutes of Health awards $1.2 million to GSU for collaborative study on discharge decisions at hospitals
2. OCTANE study influences revision of WHO guidelines for treating some HIV-infected women
3. National study shows 1 in 5 children meet criteria for a mental disorder across their lifetime
4. Legalizing marijuana in California would not substantially cut cartel revenues, study finds
5. Fertility concerns of cancer survivors inadequately addressed, study finds
6. Heart Surgery Patients Do Fine With Fewer Blood Transfusions: Study
7. Three Healthy Habits Cut Breast Cancer Risk, Study Finds
8. New Phase II study shows first-line promise of lung cancer drug PF-299
9. Phase III study shows everolimus delays tumor progression in hard-to-treat neuroendocrine tumors
10. Breast-healthy lifestyle worthwhile, URMC study confirms
11. Study Sees Link Between Epilepsy, Infertility
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... February 23, 2017 , ... Pink Pig Publishing LLC announces ... and explore the world from different perspectives. By providing a place for people ... understanding, increase empathy, and find greater happiness. , "Our approach to structuring ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... , ... Current Meditation , a new meditation concept ... U.S. starting this spring. Current Meditation focuses on “meditation for the modern world,” ... will be the first meditation concept in the U.S. offering franchising opportunities, setting ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... February 23, 2017 , ... The Center for Autism and ... for Autism Research and Treatment (RI-CART) and Cinemaworld to present Sensory Friendly Films. ... to see films in an environment that accommodates their unique needs. , Launched ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... San Ramon, CA (PRWEB) , ... February 23, 2017 , ... ... Kaplan, MD, FACP, FACMPE, FACPE, will keynote their upcoming conference – Empowerment, Value and ... served as the chairman and CEO of the Virginia Mason Health System in Seattle ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... York (PRWEB) , ... February 23, 2017 , ... Curemark, ... the safety and efficacy of CM-AT in children aged 3-8 with Autism, is now ... clinical sites already enrolling children across the United States. , “There are currently ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/23/2017)... COTTAGE, New York , February 23, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... health implications arising from increasing caseload for varicose veins ... recorded across the globe are prompting the adoption of ... latest study on global endovenous laser therapy ... attention towards aftereffects of lifestyle choices and consequences of ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... Feb. 23, 2017  As National Nutrition Month ... the Company is helping people live healthier lives ... prescription savings programs in all 50 states including:  ... Program  and  California Prescription Assistance Program . ... Columbia University for nutritious eating habits: ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... YORK , February 23, 2017 ... end of day as four out of nine sectors finished ... one sector managed a flat closing. Major US indices were ... Composite ended the day at 5,860.63, slightly down by 0.09%; ... at 20,775.60; and the S&P 500 closed at 2,362.82, down ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: