How to exert self-control

Ever wondered why certain people are able to resist temptation? A Florida State University study indicates their secret is not sheer will power but rather consciously avoiding situations that test their self-control, The Wall Street Journal reports. Researchers recruited 38 volunteers and rated their levels of self-discipline using a series of 13 questions. Half were ranked as above average, half below. The students were then given an anagram to solve and told they could either start it immediately in a noisy student lounge or wait until a quiet lab became available. Among those with below-average self-control, most went for the lounge; among those with better self-control, most chose to wait for a quieter place to work. Previous studies have found that everyone has finite stores of willpower, which can be exhausted by repeated temptations. So researchers said the wisest way to pursue a goal—such as academic success or weight loss—is to structure your environment to minimize distraction and temptation.

The Week Magazine