Not so long ago, my routine looked like this: especially after a boring day I sat on the sofa for several hours with one version of “Straight Netflix and Chill”, which means keeping the company cool means the ice cream I know. Sitting down was probably a bad idea, but I told myself it was a “bonus” to work hard.
Psychologists have a name for this phenomenon: it’s called “limiting the ego.” The theory is that willpower is tied to a limited reserve of mental energy, and once that energy is exhausted, you can lose more self-control. This theory seems to explain the instinct behind my work.
However, new studies indicate that we have considered all errors related to willpower, and that the theory of ego limitation is incorrect. Worse yet, sticking to the idea of willpower as a limited resource can actually be bad for you, causing loss of control and acting against your best judgment.
The Ego-Depletion Myth
The belief that self-control is the “spender” can be somehow one of the most widespread parts of popular psychology. The idea was put to the test in the late 1990s, when Case Western Reese Roy Boomster psychologist and colleagues tested it, and took a test that their academic colleagues had taken more than three thousand times. In the study, the researchers asked the contents of the two tests to wait in a room with two meals. A plate that kept fresh cookies, and smelled them in the room. Another plate has a dull red and white radish. Each group was only allowed to eat from one plate but not from the other. The thinking was that if the group left only the mola to eat, serious willpower must be spent to prevent them from eating cookies. After that, the researchers gave the two teams the puzzle to work on. Unknown to the study participants, the puzzle is designed to be impossible to finish. The researchers wanted to know which group would do this for much longer, and assumed that the people in the original group – who saved a lot of energy not to eat cookies – would soon be given up on the puzzle. This is exactly what happened. Those who denied the cookie crisis on their own were, on average, stable for only eight minutes, while the cookies (and the control group that performed the puzzle that solved only the part of the experiment) continued in nineteen minutes. The survey concluded that radish eating eagles have clearly decreased. But were they? At the age of 28, Boomster teamed with New York Times reporter John Turney to spread the Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Manpower. The book soon became a bestseller with the predominant appeal. Its authors cite numerous studies that demonstrate ego reductionism. Additionally, an important study showed an apparently miraculous way to restore willpower: by eating sugar. The survey claimed that the partners who dispersed sweet lemon water with sugar increased self-control and stamina in difficult tasks.
Fluke, Fake, or For Real?
The beauty of the scientific method is that it accepts, to encourage, doubts. Against religious discourse, such political beliefs or heresies are blindly adopted by party hardliners, scientific studies can be studied and new evidence can be considered. Scientific studies (especially those that include the conclusions of journalism versus journalism) urge them to determine whether the effect described in the original study is accidental, false, or real. Unfortunately for Baumeister and his companions, the ego limiting theory cookie is starting to fall apart. A study published in 2016 in the Perspectives of Psychological Sciences, which used Bumister accredited tests and more than two thousand participants, attempted to reproduce the results of Baumeister but no evidence of ego reduction was found. Moreover, two additional studies, published in the journal PLOS ONE, could not duplicate the results of the original study. Baumister discussed the methods used in some follow-up studies, but many scientists are now questioning the ego limiting theory. Evan Carter, a researcher at the University of Miami, may challenge Baumist’s findings first. Carter observed in a meta-analysis of approximately two hundred and twenty-two experiments that showed a decrease in ego. After careful examination, he discovered that the meta-analysis showed “publication bias” so that it did not include the opposing evidence presented by the study. Looking at the results of this study, he concluded that there is no solid evidence to support ego theory. Moreover, some of the theory’s more magical aspects, such as sugar juices, have been completely destroyed. For one, sugar from fast absorption cannot enter the bloodstream long enough for any source of mental energy. Moreover, brain experts have known for some time that the brain does not consume a high blood sugar level when working on difficult tasks. The brain is an organ, not a muscle, and therefore the muscles do not receive extra energy. Whether you’re working on the calculus or watching cat videos, use the same number of calories the moment your mind wakes up.
Your Willpower Is Limited if You Think It Is
So what do researchers explain to the observed phenomenon? After all, isn’t it known that hard work drains our energy and that innovation with cookies or other instincts makes us better at continuing our challenging tasks? It turns out that this is a classic case of how bonding works. While the effects of the tales observed in basic research studies to reduce ego are real, it now appears that the researchers behind the study jumped to the wrong conclusions. New research suggests another explanation for our way out of steam. In a study by Stanford University psychologist Carroll Dock and his colleagues in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Duc concluded that symptoms of ego depletion were only observed in test subjects who believed that willpower was a limited resource. Participants who did not see willpower as constrained did not show ego depletion. It appears that the depletion of the ego may be another example of the way faith works. The thoughts we spend make us worse, and rewarding ourselves unfairly makes us feel better. The sugar in lemon juice that creates mental endurance is not permanent, but rather the effect of placebo on the action. If the reason for ego depletion in the first place is the ideas that defeat themselves, then we need to think about this encouraging hypothesis. Many people, especially self-reliant teachers, still preach the idea of limiting the ego, and may not know the opposing evidence imagining the theory under discussion. But if Duke’s conclusions are correct, perpetuating the idea of willpower as a finite resource causes real harm. First, the spread of the ego-limiting hypothesis makes people less likely to achieve their goals by actually inserting the idea first, and giving them reason to leave when they can persevere. Accessories suggested suggestions such as the double glucose theory. Not only does it provide subconscious thinking about premature ejaculation, but it also fattens our sweet, pseudo-intersection.
Looking at Willpower Differently
- Bomester says he and his colleagues are doing more research to show that the ego is decreasing. This may be the case in carefully controlled laboratory conditions, willpower has run out – although contradictory evidence makes this conclusion premature.
The idea of ego depletion may have been devised because it meets the need to demonstrate why we should never do things we should never know, such as stopping work when we have to finish a project. Instead of looking for a hidden gas tank that works with willpower in our head that does not exist, perhaps we should admit that we are fragile and evasive creatures and we cut ourselves some imitators. Our low power and distracted mind may try to tell us something.
Michael Inselt, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto and chief researcher at the Toronto Neuroscience Laboratory, believes that willpower is not an end resource, but rather a passion. Since we do not “continue” with joy or anger, willpower is spreading and flowing according to what is happening to us and how we feel. Seeing willpower through this lens has a profound effect.
For one, if mental energy is more like emotion than fuel in a tank, it can be processed and used that way. A game can get rid of a tantrum when rejecting a game, but while adults learn to cope with bad feelings, when we need to perform a difficult task, the lack of motivation is more productive and healthy than believing it is temporary because it cost us he needed a break and some ice cream
However, sometimes the lack of motivation is not temporary. Emotions are how our bodies convey information that our conscious minds may miss. When lack of mental energy is chronic, we need to listen to our feelings just as we should.
To date, most studies have viewed willpower as a force that helps people do things they don’t want to do or help them resist the temptations of temptation instead. But if we adjust the outlook and view willpower as a passion, instead it can be seen to provide insight into what we should and should not spend.
For example, whenever I find myself easily distracted while working on an article, I know something is wrong. If I check Facebook or Twitter more than I do, I consider that as a clear indication that I am losing interest in the topic and should write about something else. If I force myself despite my lack of interest, I’m sure I can write an essay or two articles, but I certainly won’t be able to make it a lifelong career.
However, when I find something that satisfies my curiosity or matches a reason I believe in, I go to an area where time flows and words flow. I no longer have to force myself to write, I want to write. After a day working on assignments that do not require any willpower, I don’t feel dry myself, I feel passion. It doesn’t look like watching Netflix, I feel like the world knows what I’m doing!
Basically, we are giving up tasks that do not include us. The incredible puzzles are neither fun nor deliberate in the lab coat ordered by a social scientist. Many people suffer from the same stupid things every day effortlessly. We can gain strength for a while by doing the unthinkable, but we will not be better if we ignore what our emotions say, and we listen to our lack of willpower as ours. Find ways we might need to do things that we basically don’t want to do.
Just as we indirectly seek to engage in fun activities, we can also indirectly realize the advantage of will, which eliminates the need to spend it in the first place. Instead of focusing on willpower, we should focus on willpower.