How to resist anything, including temptation

Dina Rickman@dinarickman
Thursday 27 November 2014 18:00
Science and Tech

Those who avoid temptation have a very simple secret, psychologists at Florida State University have found: the answer is to make choices that minimise your chances of being tempted at all.

To discover this, researchers rated the self-control of 38 students aged between 18-23 years old and gave them a choice between solving an anagram in a student lounge or waiting for a quiet room. They found that of those with lower than average self control 63 per cent chose the lounge. Of those with higher self control 53 per cent waited for a lab.

In another experiment 53 people between 18-60 years old were also ranked for their self control and then asked to take an intelligence test. They had to choose between a stylised version where items would be displayed next to artwork (which was distracting but visually appealing) and a standard version, where questions would be simply displayed (which was more boring but less distracting).

They found that of those with lower than average self control 57 per cent chose the stylised version.

In the findings, published in the February 2015 edition of Personality and Individual Differences, scientists concluded: "Pragmatic use of information about upcoming risks and temptations enables them to make choices that minimize their exposure to situations in which their self-control might fail."

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