Willpower Science

Slides: MOVEWillpowerCOLORSLIDES (full size slides in PDF form for viewing on computer)

Slides: MOVEWillpowerHandouts (handouts for MOVE 2013 The Science of Willpower, in PDF form)

Below you will find publicly accessible links to the full reports of key studies mentioned in (or related to) my presentation on the science of willpower and personal change.


The Neural Basis for Self-Control (Rangel 2009)

What the Heart Says to the Brain (and vice versa) and Why We Should Listen (Thayer 2007)

The Unhealthy Sleeper Effect: Hidden Costs to Health, Happiness and Productivity (Barber 2010)

Neurobiology of Exercise (Dishman et al. 2012)

What Is the Best Dose of Green Exercise for Mental Health? (Barton 2010)

I could not find a publicly accessible link to any of the papers  on  the “pause and plan” response of self control. An excellent recent resource is a chapter by Suzanne Segerstrom (2012): Pause and Plan: Self-Regulation and the Heart.



The Tempted Brain Eats: Pleasure and Desire Circuits in Obesity and Eating Disorders (Berridge et al. 2010)

Coping with Food Cravings: Investigating the Potential of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention (Alberts et al. 2010)

A Comparison of Acceptance- and Control-Based Strategies for Coping with Food Cravings (Forman et al. 2007)

MP3: Researcher Sarah Bowen leads you through the practice of surfing the urge (click to stream audio, or right-click/control-click and “save file as” to download MP3).


Moral Self-Licensing: When Being Good Frees Us to Be Bad (Effron & Monin 2010)

Goals as Excuses or Guides: The Liberating Effect of Perceived Goal Progress on Choice (Fishbach & Dhar 2005). For PDFs of other related and recent studies on this topic, visit researcher Ayelet Fishbach’s website.

Physical Activity in Women. Effects of a Self-Regulation Intervention (Stadler et al. 2009)

Future Self-Continuity: How Conceptions of the Future Self Transform Intertemporal Choice (Hershfield 2011).


Social Contagion (A review paper by Christakis & Fowler 2012)

Social Exclusion Impairs Self-Regulation (Baumeister et al. 2005)

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