Willpower: Why It Ain't Just Glucose
Nov/28/2011 20:41 Filed in: decision making
Greg Walton and Carol Dweck had a great piece in the NYT arguing against the Baumeister notion that willpower comes down to glucose levels in the bloodstream.
Willpower, especially as it relates to issues of intertemporal choice (i.e., making decisions that have different consequences in the short- vs. longer-term), isn't simply about effortful self-regulation, and it also is unlikely to stem solely from glucose levels. True, the brain is a glucose hog, but there are many different mechanisms in the brain that use this fuel. As we've argued elsewhere, effortful control isn't always the best way to solve dilemmas of intertemporal choice; the mind can often "talk itself" into decisions that favor short-term goals. And as Walton and Dweck show (based on several carefully conducted experiments), exerting willpower effectively is a much more complicated and nuanced process than one relying on a solely metabolic one.