This is a legacy website for the Behavioural Design Lab. It is no longer updated.
Behavioural Design Lab Subscribe Bird Contact

It’s Not Too Much Desire, But Too Little Self-Control That Gets Us Into Trouble

Psychology, emotion, risk, self-control

Imagine a seesaw in your brain. On one side is your desire system, the network of brain areas related to seeking pleasure and reward. On the other side is your self-control system, the network of brain areas that throw up red flags before you engage in risky behavior. The tough questions facing scientific explorers of behavior are what makes the seesaw too heavy on either side, and why is it so difficult to achieve balance?

A new study from University of Texas-Austin, Yale and UCLA researchers suggests that for many of us, the issue is not that we’re too heavy on desire, but rather that we’re too light on self-control.

Researchers asked study participants hooked up to a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner to play a video game designed to simulate risk-taking. The game is called Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART), which past research has shown correlates well with self-reported risk-taking such as drug and alcohol use, smoking, gambling, driving without a seatbelt, stealing and engaging in unprotected sex.

Read the rest of the article...

Related content

Hard Work, Hard Times: Self-control and Joblessness

How the Brain Uses Glucose to Fuel Self-Control

Can You Learn Self-Control?

© 2015 Warwick Business School and the Design Council
jQuery UI Datepicker - Default functionality