You don’t need to be hungry…
A now famous study on “willpower” asked two groups of people to do a task and then go outside into a lobby to have a snack. The first group got easy, fun tasks that took no effort, and the second group were asked to do more difficult things like solve math problems or pay focused attention for a long time.
In the lobby were waiting a few different kinds of snacks: some healthy and some very, very unhealthy. The first group came out and, compared to the second group, chose more healthy snacks and got on with it. The second group, frazzled from the effort, reached for the pastries and fattening goodies instead. Why?
The researchers theorized that when it comes to the precious resource of your attention and will, people can run out, just as they run out of physical energy. In other words, the second group had spent all their effort and attention trying to complete their difficult tasks that when it came to making more effort to resist the unhealthy snacks, they simply couldn’t. The first group, still fresh and cognitively charged up, could look at the options and make the better choice.