Get busy for more self-control
London : Want to boost your self-control? Start thinking of yourself as a busy person, researchers, including one of Indian-origin, said in a study.
The study revealed that the mere perception of self as a busy person, or what they call a busy mindset, is a "badge of honour" that can be leveraged to promote better self-control.
"Every day, we make many decisions that involve choosing between our immediate and future well-being," said Amitava Chattopadhyay, professor at the European Institute of Business Administration (INSEAD) in Fontainebleau, France.
"When we perceive ourselves to be busy, it boosts our self-esteem, tipping the balance in favour of the more virtuous choice," he added.
On the other hand, some people who find themselves under significant time pressure also tend to get anxious and make hedonic decisions.
For the study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, participants were asked to make decisions in different self-control domains related to food, exercise or retirement savings.
The participants who had been reminded of their busy lifestyle were consistently more inclined than control participants to make virtuous decisions.
The study proved that a heightened sense of self-importance was the key reason behind the increase in self-control, researchers said.
"When we temporarily dampened the sense of self-importance of participants who otherwise felt busy, the self-control effect vanished," Chattopadhyay noted.
In addition, the study could be applied in the spheres of health promotion or food waste reduction.
It can help policymakers to consider ways to activate a busy mindset as a nudge to increase relevant self-control behaviours in the population.