Want More Willpower? Develop A Taste For Real Power

People who seek out -- or, in the case of this Technical University of Munich study, act out -- positions of power tend to gain more resolve to pursue their goals than those who don't.

What's the Latest Development?


In an experiment designed to measure willpower, researchers at the Technical University of Munich asked certain test subjects to reenact a scene from a popular movie in which a bullying father reprimands his son. During this reenactment, other subjects were asked to watch and took notes. They then asked the entire group to watch a funny clip from another movie without smiling or laughing. The subjects who portrayed the father were better at controlling their emotions than the rest of the group.

What's the Big Idea?

Willpower is a finite, easily-depleted resource, and some people have more of it than others. However, it's possible to increase willpower by imagining yourself in a position of power, say the researchers in a paper published in the online Journal of Personality. They go on to suggest that employers might take advantage of their workers' underlying motivations by giving leadership positions to those who enjoy directing people, and creative, results-oriented positions to those who seek approval.

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