Your ability to focus on one thing without succumbing to distractions may test your willpower, but according to a recent study performed by a team of Stanford psychologists, willpower isn’t the limited resource you might think it is.
Photo by John Althouse Cohen.
There’s no question that sometimes you just need a break, but the researchers findings suggest that, despite the commonly held belief that willpower is an exhaustible resource, the endurance you get from willpower is at least in part determined by your beliefs.
[T] he Stanford team… 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.”
Their findings do ring at least partially true to this editor. We’re not machines, though, and I can’t imagine that I could work without stopping indefinitely, even if I believed I had an absolutely inexhaustible amount of willpower to do so. The reality is probably somewhere in the middle: You have a limited supply of willpower, but that supply may vary greatly depending on how strong you perceive your willpower to be.
Hit up the full post at Science Daily to read more details of the study, and let’s hear what you think in the comments.
Need a Study Break to Refresh? Maybe Not, Say Researchers [Science Daily]