Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Motivation to be active may lead to impulsive behavior

Date:
March 14, 2012
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Those motivated to actively change bad habits may be setting themselves up for failure, a new study suggests.

Those motivated to actively change bad habits may be setting themselves up for failure, a new study suggests. The study, described in an article in the journal Motivation and Emotion, found that people primed with words suggesting action were more likely than others to make impulsive decisions that undermined their long-term goals. In contrast, those primed to "rest," to "stop" or to be inactive found it easier to avoid impulsive decisions.

Related Articles


"Popular views of self-control maintain that individuals should 'exert' willpower, 'fight' temptations, 'overcome' desires and 'control' impulses when they want to successfully control their own behavior," said University of Illinois graduate student Justin Hepler, who led the study with psychology professor Dolores Albarracín.

"Ironically, in these situations people are often 'fighting' to do nothing -- for example, they want to not eat a piece of cake."

"Those who try to be active may make wild, risky investments, for example, and persist in behaviors that clearly make them unsuccessful," Albarracín said.

Hepler, Albarracín and colleagues at Idaho State University and the University of Southern Mississippi wanted to determine whether successful self-control involves the active, effortful pursuit of one's goals, as some researchers have proposed, or whether one is more likely to succeed by "delay(ing) behavior until sufficient pre-action information processing has occurred," as others suggest, the researchers wrote.

In a first experiment, the researchers exposed volunteer participants to words suggesting action ("start," "active," etc.) or inaction ("stop," "pause," etc.) and then tested their self-control by measuring their willingness to forego an immediate monetary reward in exchange for a larger, later one.

A second experiment also primed participants with action and inaction words and then tested their impulse control on a simple computer game.

In both experiments, volunteers who were motivated to be active were more likely to select immediate rewards and had poorer impulse control than those who had been primed with words suggesting inaction, the researchers found.

"Overall, these experiments demonstrate that attempting to motivate oneself to be active in the face of temptations may actually lead to impulsive behaviors," Hepler said. "On the other hand, becoming motivated for inaction or calming oneself down may be the best way to avoid impulsive decisions."

"Of course, inaction words like 'stop' may induce effort directed at decreasing undesirable behavior," Albarracín said. "But these inaction words have been shown to relax individuals, and our research suggests that the relaxed state is better at inhibiting the pull of temptations."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Justin Hepler, Dolores Albarracin, Kathleen C. McCulloch, Kenji Noguchi. Being active and impulsive: The role of goals for action and inaction in self-control. Motivation and Emotion, 2011; DOI: 10.1007/s11031-011-9263-4

Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Motivation to be active may lead to impulsive behavior." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120314124213.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2012, March 14). Motivation to be active may lead to impulsive behavior. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120314124213.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Motivation to be active may lead to impulsive behavior." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120314124213.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) — A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) — Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) — We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) — A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins