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

 

Scoop Business: RBNZ Keeps OCR At 3.5%, Signals Slower Pace Of Future Hikes

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler kept the official cash rate at 3.5 percent and signalled he won’t be as aggressive with future rate hikes as previously thought as inflation remains tamer than expected. The kiwi dollar fell to a seven-month low. More>>

ALSO:

Weather: Dry Spells Take Hold In South Island

Many areas in the South Island are tracking towards record dry spells as relatively warm, dry weather that began in mid-August continues... for some South Island places, the current period of fine weather is quite rare. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Productivity Commission To Look At Housing Land Supply

The Productivity Commission is to expand on its housing affordability report with an investigation into improving land supply and development capacity, particularly in areas with strong population growth. More>>

ALSO:

Forestry: Man Charged After 2013 Death

Levin Police have arrested and charged a man with manslaughter in relation to the death of Lincoln Kidd who was killed during a tree felling operation on 19 December 2013. More>>

ALSO:

Smells Like Justice: Dairy Company Fined Over Odour

Dairy company fined over odour Dairy supply company Open Country Dairy Limited has been convicted and fined more than $35,000 for discharging objectionable odour from its Waharoa factory at the time of last year’s ”spring flush” when milk supply was high. More>>

Scoop Business: Dairy Product Prices Decline To Lowest Since July 2012

Dairy product prices dropped to the lowest level since July 2012 in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction, led by a slump in rennet casein and butter milk powder. More>>

ALSO:

SOE Results: TVNZ Lifts Annual Profit 25% On Flat Ad Revenue, Quits Igloo

Television New Zealand, the state-owned broadcaster, lifted annual profit 25 percent, ahead of forecast and despite a dip in advertising revenue, while quitting its stake in the pay-TV Igloo joint venture with Sky Network Television. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Computer Power Plus

Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news