Yet another weird SF fan


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Yet another weird SF fan
 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Decision Fatigue

If decision fatigue is a problem:

Decision fatigue helps explain why ordinarily sensible people get angry at colleagues and families, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket and can’t resist the dealer’s offer to rustproof their new car. No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price.
then decisions should be made by people who don't have to make that many decisions, i.e., consumers deciding for themselves or their families instead of bureaucrats or politicians who decide for everybody. This might explain why the EPA standard for radioactive iodine in drinking water is less radioactive (by a factor of several hundred) than orange juice.

I suspect the people who came up the the concept of decision fatigue would regard that as an undesirable conclusion.

But wait, there's more. We also see in the same article:

The results of the experiment were announced in January, during Heatherton’s speech accepting the leadership of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the world’s largest group of social psychologists. In his presidential address at the annual meeting in San Antonio, Heatherton reported that administering glucose completely reversed the brain changes wrought by depletion — a finding, he said, that thoroughly surprised him. Heatherton’s results did much more than provide additional confirmation that glucose is a vital part of willpower; they helped solve the puzzle over how glucose could work without global changes in the brain’s total energy use. Apparently ego depletion causes activity to rise in some parts of the brain and to decline in others. Your brain does not stop working when glucose is low. It stops doing some things and starts doing others. It responds more strongly to immediate rewards and pays less attention to long-term prospects.
Does that mean today's evil food (carbohydrates) can actually help you stay on a diet? I'll have the glazed sweet potatoes, please.

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