The Limiting Belief That Kills Your Willpower

Americans are particularly prone to this limiting belief.

Americans are particularly prone to this limiting belief.

The key to more willpower is to believe that it is an infinite resource.

However, when people believe their willpower is limited, and needs recharging periodically, that belief becomes their reality.

The results come from a study which compared beliefs about willpower between Europeans and Americans.

Professor Christopher Napolitano, the study’s first author, said:

“What matters most is what we think about our willpower.

When we view our willpower as limited, it’s similar to a muscle that gets tired and needs rest.

If we believe it is a finite resource, we act that way, feeling exhausted and needing breaks between demanding mental tasks, while people who view their willpower as a limitless resource get energized instead.”

The results showed that Americans were more likely to believe their willpower was limited.

American said they needed more breaks and rest after mentally tiring tasks.

Europeans, though, reported they felt more energy after difficult tasks and ready to start something new.

The study included over 1,100 Americans, and 1,600 Europeans — around half Swiss and half German.

Professor Napolitano said:

“Your feelings about your willpower affect the way you behave — but these feelings are changeable.

Changing your beliefs about the nature of your self-control can have positive effects on development, leading to healthier behaviors and perceptions of others.”

The study was published in the journal Psychological Assessment (Napolitano & Job, 2018).

Author: Dr Jeremy Dean

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.

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