Related to: Willpower Hax #487: Execute by Default, The Physiology of Willpower

Making your own decisions makes you procrastinate more and quit sooner than when you're following orders:

Key quote:

Making choices led to reduced self-control (i.e., less physical stamina, reduced persistence in the face of failure, more procrastination, and less quality and quantity of arithmetic calculations). A field study then found that reduced self-control was predicted by shoppers' self-reported degree of previous active decision making. Further studies suggested that choosing is more depleting than merely deliberating and forming preferences about options and more depleting than implementing choices made by someone else and that anticipating the choice task as enjoyable can reduce the depleting effect for the first choices but not for many choices.

New Comment
6 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 10:19 AM

Seventeen upvotes and no promotion? Why?

Links without an original contribution are encouraged and might be well-liked but are not (as a general rule) promoted.

ETA: From the about page

Links will not be promoted unless they are truly excellent - the "promoted" posts are intended as a filtered stream for the casual/busy reader.

Since I seem to be the only one outraged, so be it.

[-][anonymous]13y 0

I wouldn't say I'm outraged, but I did notice and thought it curious.

I'm a bit baffled. What counts as "making a choice?" Is it the same as making a decision?

Here's where my question comes from. I play poker online. Last night, in fact, for the first time ever I opened 8 different tables, and then I played at all 8 for almost 5 hours straight. My software says I played over 2,000 hands of poker. Each hand represents at least one decision, and often a series. Decision 1, fold or play this hand from this position. Decision 2, if play, raise or call. Decision 3, if still in the hand on the flop, bet/raise/call. And so on. So I probably made between 5,000 and 10,000 different decisions ("choices"?) in one evening.

The study would imply that I had massively reduced self-control after that, I assume. I went to bed pretty shortly thereafter, so I can't speak to that one way or the other.

But it would also seem to imply that I must have played very bad poker during the last hour or so -- my self-control must have been dead, and a critical part of playing good poker is self-control: folding hands that need folding can be a very difficult effort, especially when you have a good hand but your instincts are telling you it's second-best. It's so, so easy to talk yourself into a call "just to see," but that habit costs real money.

Now it's true that sometimes I do play worse poker as a session goes on, but sometimes I don't. Last night, despite playing more hands in one session than I ever have before, I don't think I fell apart toward the end.

Am I missing something very basic here? Probably so.

Can someone explain what it is? Thanks.

I declare that blog a mandatory reading for everyone.