A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association, suggests positive habits such as eating a healthy breakfast or going to the gym help us meet goals.
Led by Wendy Wood and David Neal of USC, this research shows that lack of control doesn't automatically mean indulgence or hedonism - it's the underlying routine that matters, for better or worse.
The researchers provide an important new twist to the established idea after five experiments that we have finite resources for self-regulation, meaning it`s harder to take control of our actions when we're already stressed or tired.
When we try to change our behaviour, we strategize about our motivation and self-control. But what we should be thinking about instead is how to set up new habits. Habits persist even when we`re tired and don`t have the energy to exert self-control.
It is found that learned habits also play a big role in our health; research has shown that exercise, overeating and smoking are significant risk factors for major diseases.
One of the experiments found that oatmeal eaters were more likely to stick to routine and ate especially well in the morning when under pressure in comparison to those who ate junk food on regular basis. Another experiment found that regular gym-goers were even more likely to go to the gym when stressed and those in the habit of reading the editorial pages in the newspaper everyday during the semester were more likely to perform this habit during exams - even during the time constraint.
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