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What willpower isn’t good for


From MercatorNet (September 29, 2011):

Willpower is back in style – for three months, maybe

How effective are Baumeister’s (and Tierney’s) prescriptions likely to be? The point where the book starts to wobble downhill is the just-so story about how self-control and self-consciousness evolved from our prehuman ancestors’ need to be patient while the alpha male ate first. Our large brain, we are told, later led us to apply these strategies to other uses like “At a business lunch, you don’t have to consciously restrain yourself from eating meat off your boss’s plate” (p. 15).

No, but most sources would attribute that fact to a variety of immaterial factors that originate in the mind (courtesy, consideration, aesthetics, hygiene), not the belly. In a different culture, one might be expected to eat from the boss’s plate. In reality, context determines everything in these matters.


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