Exerting too much self-control could backfire

Even imagining someone else using self-control weakens resolve.
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Aug 11, 2009
By dvm360.com staff

Go ahead. Let go every once in awhile. Otherwise you may end up going overboard at just the wrong moment.

A recent study published in Psychological Science suggests expending self-control and even imagining someone else using self-control “could result in small breakdowns of self-control, such as employees speaking out improperly during a meeting, to catastrophic ones, such as police officers responding to an emotionally charged encounter with deadly force,” according to the study’s authors.

Psychologists from Yale University and the University of California Los Angeles explored what effect thinking about other people’s self-control has on thoughts and behavior.

The results revealed that participants who imagined someone showing restraint were more willing to splurge for themselves. The study’s authors deduced that the participants “had exhausted their capacity for self-control and restraint, leading them to spend more money.” Imagining someone else using self-control also diminished participants’ ability to perform word game and memory tasks.