People who act morally ambivalent have less willpower. Use the force Luke. The dark side works too.
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 19, 2010 -- New research from Harvard University suggests that moral actions may increase our capacity for willpower and physical endurance. Study participants who did good deeds -- or even just imagined themselves helping others -- were better able to perform a subsequent task of physical endurance.
The research, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, shows a similar or even greater boost in physical strength following dastardly deeds.
Researcher Kurt Gray, a doctoral student in psychology at Harvard, explains these effects as a self-fulfilling prophecy in morality.
"People perceive those who do good and evil to have more efficacy, more willpower, and less sensitivity to discomfort," Gray says. "By perceiving themselves as good or evil, people embody these perceptions, actually becoming more capable of physical endurance."
The world is a battle between good and evil because the morally neutral just do not have the get up and go.
There's a cool part of this: It is enough to just imagine yourself helping others to boost your willpower. No need for real altruism. You can just pretend to be good. Is that cool or what? Explains so much moral posturing. Next time you see someone flashing symbols of taking the moral high road you can be sure they are just trying to build up their willpower to do what they really want to do.
So I'm imagining a superhero who doesn't have enough willpower to fly thru the air. Suddenly a thought bubble pops up over their head showing them saving babies and mothers from, say, an evil biker gang. Suddenly the superhero can fly off and he flies to a tropical beach to hang out and pick up surfer girls while drinking margaritas. Make your moral battle fantasies big enough and who knows what great feat you'll be able to pull off.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2010 April 19 11:49 PM Brain Performance|