Why is dietary self-control so difficult, even when we know full well what's at stake and what's right? It's not helpful at all to say simply that some people have more willpower. What's going on, at the most fundamental cognitive level, that leads to good and bad dietary decisions?
Our choices have implications, not only for how much we enjoy lunch today, but also for longer term goals like fitness and health. But how do we choose? What are the basic cognitive processes that lead from initial hunger pang to this soup or that sandwich?
These findings highlight an important and previously unreported link between early misfortune, unhealthy living and serious health risks in early adulthood. It's not to suggest that this is the only mechanism at work, but these hopeful findings identify actual behavioral targets.
Most of us are capable of bargaining for a distant payoff -- a college diploma, for example -- but addicts are bad at this calculation. So if addicts are so bad at temporal discounting, is it possible that this cognitive bias might be a marker of treatment success -- even a target of intervention?
Very few of us have perfect self-control, but importantly, many of us are well aware of our limited power to say no. So it's sometimes possible to anticipate times of weakness and devise ways to restrict our own freedom.
The relationship between psychology and heart disease is far more complex than Type A theory proposed. But in another sense, that short-fused workaholic guy was the originator of today's more sophisticated view.
It may be that combining eating with mental work -- even something as mindless as watching reruns -- diminishes the taste of food. With our attention focused elsewhere, the mind becomes less sensitive to tastes like saltiness and sweetness.
Drug ads are required to list the most serious side effects for the prescription drugs they promote, and some are indeed serious. Do consumers take these warnings seriously, and do these frightening catalogs of symptoms change their attitudes toward the drugs?
We do have the cognitive ability to project days or weeks or even years into the future, but we don't do it when we're making food choices in the here and now. What if we could trick ourselves into keeping our heads in the future?
First described in the 1980s, "John Henryism" has come to mean a strong-headed, never-give-up attitude toward life and its travails -- an attitude and coping style that, paradoxically, seems to result in old sorts of pathology and disease among the have-nots.
So are you a dualist? Most scientists reject the notion that the mind has an immaterial substance that's unlike the physical world. Instead, they argue that the mind somehow emerges from the squishy matter called the brain -- a philosophy called physicalism.
Scientists believe that people can get stuck in repeating cycles, in which failure to lose weight impairs psychological functioning, which in turn increases the risk of more failure. Even a quick and simple intervention may have the power to disrupt this destructive cycle.