Behavioral scientists often interpret such behavior as evidence of a conflict between a person’s two ‘selfs’ – the Planner (in charge of self-control) and the Doer (who reacts in a certain way) natural against the temptations of the moment).
A team of researchers from the Universities of East Anglia (UEA), Warwick, Cardiff and Lancaster in the UK and Passau in Germany investigated how well people identify with their Planners and Doers .
They found that although participants differed in the relative importance they attached to spontaneity and autonomy, overall attitudes in favor of spontaneity were almost as common as attitudes in favor of spontaneity. autonomy household.
Public policies designed to ‘push’ people towards healthy lifestyles are often justified because people think of planners as they really are and despise the actions of the doers. their.
In the new study, however, the researchers argue that this justification ignores the possibility that people value spontaneity and autonomy and endorse their flexible attitude toward decisions.
Robert Sugden, professor of economics at UEA, said: “Our main message is not about whether actions that promote healthy lifestyles are good for people’s long-term health or happiness. That is whether such motivating actions can be justified because they help individuals overcome what they recognize as problems of self-control.”
If that idea is to be used as a guiding principle for public policy, we need to be assured that individuals want to be helped in this way. Our findings suggest that people often may not want this.
New research findings indicate the importance of considering spontaneous desires as worthy of attention as the desire for self-controland as suggested interesting lines of further research.
The experiment began by asking each of the 240 participants to recall and write about a specific type of episode earlier in their lives.
For some people, this is a memorable meal when they especially enjoy the food; For others, it’s the effort they’ve made for their well-being and they feel satisfied. They were then asked to indicate their level of awareness in different statements.
These include a desire to have more control over yourself (e.g. ‘I wish I exercised more’), regrets about losing control (‘After ordering dessert at a restaurant, I often feel regret’) and adopt self-control as a life strategy (‘In life, it’s important to be able to resist temptation’).
An equal number of sentences expressed a wish for less self-control (e.g., ‘I wish there was less social pressure to exercise’), regrets about exercising self-control (‘After calling a healthy snack, I often wish I had chosen something better’), and the concurrence of nature (‘Enjoying junk food from time to time is an important source of happiness to me, even if they are bad for my health’).
Overall, respondents found themselves almost as often in statements in favor of spontaneity as in statements in favor of autonomy..
When answering questions about what is important in life, most of the participants said that it is important to make long-term plans and stick to them and that there is no harm in taking advantage of them from time to time. Enjoy small pleasures instead of sticking to those plans. Surprisingly, attitudes were not significantly affected by the type of episode that respondents recalled.