How to Resist Temptations

July 22, 2011

Professor Deborah MacInnis, a professor and Vice Dean for Research and Strategy at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, Los Angeles, has done some fascinating research that may have significant applications for management.She and a colleague tested responses to temptation under different circumstances: She placed three groups of people in a room containing a delicious-looking chocolate cake and the implements to divide and eat it.The first group was put into the room and told to think about the shame and guilt they would feel if they ate it.The second was told to think about how proud they would be of not eating it.The third group, the control group, was put in the room and given no instructions.Here were the results:The control group ate the most.The group that was told to think about pride ate the least.MacInnis concluded that shame and guilt do not work as well as a sense of pride to help resist temptation.I believe I know why: Shame and guilt consume energy, subtracting energy from our will to resist temptation. Pride, on the other hand, gives energy, allocating more energy to the willpower to resist.Interesting, huh?This has definite implications for resisting common faults such as overeating, procrastinating, and being lazy.In life, we are often confronted with the temptation to do something pleasurable that we know is unhealthy or unwise.How can we overcome those temptations? By comparing the pleasure of doing it with the pleasure and pride in not doing it.I hope this helps.

Written by
Dr. Ichak Adizes