Self-Control Is Contagious, According To A New Study

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Researchers have found that watching - or even just thinking about - someone with good self-control makes people more likely to exert self-control themselves, while watching someone with bad self-control has a negative influence.

The Study

Hundreds of volunteers participated in a series of recently published studies from the University of Georgia, in which researchers examined how being aware of someone else's level of self-control influenced participants' own exertion of self-contol. In all five studies, the researchers found that exposure to people who demonstrate good self-control had a positive influence on participants' own level of self-control, while exposure to others with bad self-control had a negative impact. Astonishingly, even seeing the name of someone with good or bad self-control flashed on a screen for just 10 milliseconds was enough to affect the participants' behavior.

What Does This Mean?

We already know that people have a tendency to emulate the behaviors of those near them, leading to similar habits among people who share a social network. The idea that good self-control is contagious suggests that people struggling with drug addiction are more likely to be successful if they surround themselves with others who demonstrate good self-control. The really interesting thing about these new findings is that it appears self-control is contagious even across behaviors. This means that thinking about someone who shows discipline or self-control in any area of life - exercise, diet, finances, etc - can increase your likelihood of exercising self-control wherever it is needed in your own life.

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