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The Merest Thought of Money Replenishes Self-Control

Money pig
“Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power.” ~Seneca

The Roman philosopher Seneca knew the benefits of self-control, as do modern psychologists:

“…self-control is strongly associated with what we label success: higher self-esteem, better interpersonal skills, better emotional responses and, perhaps surprisingly, few drawbacks at even very high levels of self-control (Tangney et al., 2004). (From: How to Improve Your Self Control)

I’ve discussed many strategies for improving self-control in: Top 10 Self-Control Strategies.

But in a new study they’ve found that the merest suggestion of money is enough to help people recover from the ego-depletion effect (i.e. when your self-control ‘muscle’ is tired from too much exertion):

“Across two experiments using varied operationalizations of self-control, participants completed an initial task that depleted self-control resources or not, were then reminded of money or neutral concepts, and finally, completed a second task requiring self-control. In both experiments, among depleted participants, those reminded of money performed better on the second self-control task than those reminded of neutral concepts.” (Boucher & Kofos, 2012)

About the author

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.

He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:

Dr Dean’s bio, Twitter, Facebook and how to contact him.

Image credit: Eric Gjerde