In Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman explored two modes of thinking. We process information automatically, often coming up with easy and convenient mental explanations for things. On the other hand, we have a more deliberative process in which our brain takes its time. We would like to believe that the latter mental process is boss. But it's not.
Willpower, psychologist Roy Baumeister discovered, is a limited resource easily drained by everyday activity. This greatly impacts our ability to make rational decisions and exercise proper self-control. Kahneman calls this "ego depletion," or our deliberative mode of thinking getting exhausted over time.
In today's lesson, Penn Jillette describes how a group of showbusiness professionals ended up acting like junior high school students on The Celebrity Apprentice. As hard as Jillette tried to maintain self-control, the producers of the show created a system that eventually wore all of the contestants out over time.