Archives for Psychology

General

Willpower-Friendly Tips For Students And Adults

Willpower is strongest at the beginning of the day and when glucose levels in the bloodstream are adequate.
You can perform better and succeed in getting tasks accomplished if you plan accordingly:

Bring a snack to long exams such as the SAT.
Avoid making decisions before lunch or at the end of the day.
Plan your day ahead of time (that morning or the night before) and then follow your schedule. Don't just float through the day...
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General

The Surprising Key to Willpower

New Year's is the classic time to resolve to form new habits, but most of us then abandon our good intentions by mid-February, if not before.

It turns out that our willpower comes, not from the sincerity of our resolve, but from the glucose level in our bloodstream.The brain runs on glucose. Even when not working hard, the brain consumes 25% of circulating glucose, even though it only takes up 3% of the body's weight.

Decision-making is especially taxing, and the brain burns glucose like crazy when it's forced to make lots of fine-grained choices over an extended period of time.
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Habits Protect Students Against Decision Fatigue

In my habits class, we watched my very favorite TED talk, The Paradox of Choice. Barry Schwartz explains that much of the stress, anxiety and depression in our modern world stems from “ego depletion,” also called “decision fatigue.”

[embed]http://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice?language=en[/embed]

Thanks in great part to our consumerist society (always trying to sell us yet another flavor of Cheerios), we are barraged by choices, and the human brain gets stressed every time it has to make a choice. We think of choice as a good thing, and of course to a certain extent it is! But, we live in a culture in which there is an enormous choice overload, which can be paralyzing and can lead to stress anxiety and depression.
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General

Notes From My Habits Class For Students

I just finished teaching Making and Breaking Habits, a class I designed for my local community college, targeted towards high school and college students.

We had such wonderful discussions, and at the end of each session I jotted down the notes from the board:

What are habits? Things we do a lot, without thinking, on auto-pilot.

Why do we need habits? Most of what we do is automatic. It would be a big problem if...
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General

For Efficient Studying, Clear the Decks!


I hear more and more students complaining about the hours they're spending on homework, and how long they study for tests (but then they still don't do well).

The culprit is almost always multi-tasking.

Human brains are simply not built to do more than one thing at a time. This is true for young people just as much as for adults.

These very same students will insist that texting, listening to music, and watching TV help them study. But what's really happening is
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