Phew. You just completed a task at work and the deadline for your next daunting assignment is quickly approaching. But first, you need to take a break – mainly because your willpower to stay focused has been depleted , right?
Wrong, say Stanford University researchers who suggest an employee’s desire to find something to distract them from work depends on that worker’s perception about willpower.
Published in the journal Psychological Science, their study’s results defy an often-held conclusion that willpower – the capacity to exert self-control – is a limited resource.
“People who viewed the capacity for self-control as not limited did not show diminished self-control after a depleting experience,” the researchers wrote in the abstract of the study titled “Ego Depletion: Is It All in Your Head?”
“The findings suggest that reduced self-control after a depleting task or during demanding periods may reflect people’s beliefs about the availability of willpower rather than true resource depletion.”
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