Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Sticking to NY's resolutions does not depend on will power

Sticking to New Year’s resolutions does not depend on will power

Those struggling to stick to their New Year’s resolution might take comfort in scientists’ assertion that will power has very little to do with a person’s character.

Professor Nick Chater revealed that the environment is a far bigger factor in determining whether people are able to stick to their diet or exercise regime and that people are suffering from the ‘fundamental attribution error’ in believing that the success of their New Year’s resolution depends on their will power.

“It can’t be that some people who lead very effective and well organised lives are just endowed with vastly more will power than others,” said Professor Chater, of Warwick Business School, on BBC Radio 4’s The Human Zoo. “There is no independent evidence for this. Conditions and the environment have more of an effect than we think they do. The ‘fundamental attribution error’ sees people consistently overweight people’s character as the determining factor.

“We have to accept that external factors are very important. The environment we live in is nudging us one way or another, to buy or not to, to drink or not to, depending on what signals are present in the environment.”

Professor Chater, who is Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School, experimented on students giving them the choice between a piece of fruit or chocolate. One group were given a long number to remember the other a simple short number. Though the results were mixed there is evidence to back up the hypothesis that more of those with the short number would choose fruit.

“There is quite a lot of experimental work on how our will power is affected by the amount by which our memory is taken up by other things,” said Professor Chater. “Will power seems to require paying attention. On a large number of people, you really can make them have less will power by distracting them with tricky mental tasks.

“If you are exerting a lot of will power in one dimension of your life, like dieting vigorously, then other areas of your life will tend to become slacker, so your will power is a finite source.”

Ed Gardiner, of the Behavioural Design Lab, a collaboration between Warwick Business School and the Design Council, believes sticking to a New Year’s resolution involves changing your own environment.

“There is a misunderstanding of the power of the environment in creating new habits,” said Gardiner. “We think our actions are simply the result of our own intentions, but actually they are influenced by many, many environmental factors. What are those crucial factors that have the most powerful influence on our behaviour? Once you understand that then you can start to manipulate those factors.

“Habits are formed by a link to a particular environmental cue. For example if you want to get fitter, choose a gym that is situated on your way home from work. If you want to quit drinking, don’t have wine in the fridge when you start cooking.”

Professor Chater, who is an advisor to the Government’s Behavioural Insights Team or as it is more commonly known the ‘Nudge Unit’, added:  “We can we can try to shape our interaction with the environment to make it as friendly as possible, to give ourselves the nudges we want to have, by trying to make sure you settle on a lifestyle and pattern of behaviour that puts you in a position to make the decisions you want to make.”

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Crown Accounts: Smaller-Than-Expected Four-Month Deficit

The New Zealand government's accounts recorded a smaller-than-forecast deficit in the first four months of the fiscal year on a higher-than-expected inflow of corporate and goods and services tax. More>>

ALSO:

On For Christmas: KiwiRail Ferries Back In Full Operation After Quake

KiwiRail’s Interislander ferries are back in full operation for the first time since the Kaikoura earthquake, with the railspan that allows rail wagons to be loaded on the Aratere now restored. More>>

ALSO:

Comerce Commission Investigation: Prosecutions Over Steel Mesh Labelling

Steel & Tube Holdings, along with two other companies, will be prosecuted by the Commerce Commission following the regulator's investigation into seismic steel mesh, while Fletcher Building's steel division has been given a warning. More>>

ALSO:

Wine: 20% Of Marlborough Storage Tanks Damaged By Quake

An estimated 20 percent of wine storage tanks in the Marlborough region, the country’s largest wine producing area, have been damaged by the impact of the recent Kaikoura earthquake. More>>

ALSO:

ACC: Levy Recommendations For 2017 – 2019 Period

• For car owners, a 13% reduction in the average Motor Vehicle levy • For businesses, a 10% reduction in the average Work levy, and changes to workplace safety incentive products • For employees, due to an increase in claims volumes and costs, a 3% increase in the Earners’ levy. More>>

Women's Affairs: Government Accepts Recommendations On Pay Equity

The Government will update the Equal Pay Act and amend the Employment Relations Act to implement recommendations of the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity. More>>

ALSO:

Immigration: Increase In Seasonal Workers For RSE

The current cap will be increased by 1,000 from 9,500 to 10,500 RSE workers for the 2016-17 season. Mr Woodhouse says the horticulture and viticulture industry is New Zealand’s fourth largest export industry, producing almost $5 billion in exports. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news