Fending Off Willpower Depletion

Response to my post on ego depletion from Unnamed at LessWrong (who also pointed me to the research in that post):

people come into the lab, they do one task that drains their willpower, then they get some intervention that might restore their willpower, then they do another task that requires willpower. This review by Baumeister, Vohs, and Tice (pdf) lists a few that have worked and gives citations:


  • Humor and laughter
  • Other positive emotions
  • Cash incentives
  • Implementation intentions (‘‘if … then’’ plans)
  • Social goals (e.g., wanting to help people; wanting to be a good relationship partner)

I’ll read the pdf later, but for now titrating a sweet food or drink seems like a cool willpower-boosting trick (I find that when I play beach volleyball for hours, I do better if I can have some chocolate, soda, or banana between games, but that’s probably helping with the more obvious muscle glycogen depletion).