New research highlights an old problem — anything that interferes with our ability to delay gratification can lead to unhealthy choices. The latest study along these lines shows that men who watched sexy videos or handled lingerie sought immediate gratification—even when they were making decisions about money, soda, and candy. Being aware of this tendency in ourselves (men) can lead to successful efforts to stop ourselves from acting foolishly. (Click here to see the full study in pdf file format).
Many other studies (of both males and females) over the years have shown that exercising self-control and being able to delay gratification is a skill that leads to higher social and educational achievement and healthier choices. How can we increase our ability to resist temptation? Ongoing research strongly suggests that willpower can be strengthened through use (the more we practice it, the more of it we have), and also can be budgeted like any other limited resource (for example, see this New York Times article).