Sleep, sex and... Twitter?
A new study suggests that people are more likely to give into the urge to check email and their Twitter account than they are to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol. While the study headed by Wilhelm Hofmann of Chicago University's Booth Business School was limited in size, covering just 205 people between the ages of 18 and 85, it seems to confirm what many of us have suspected for years.
"Desires for media may be comparatively harder to resist because of their high availability and also because it feels like it does not 'cost much' to engage in these activities, even though one wants to resist," Hofmann told the Guardian.
The study was primarily focused on willpower as opposed to addiction, and the moments when people were forced to resist urges to partake in an activity or deal with conflicting urges, such as the urge to sleep and the urge to stay out socializing. Sleep and sex generally trumped other urges, but checking media and work were generally put ahead of socializing and shopping urges.
"Modern life is a welter of assorted desires marked by frequent conflict and resistance, the latter with uneven success," Hofmann said.
The study found that resistance to all urges declined as the day wore on, and that people seem to do a better job of resisting the urge to smoke or drink than many may have thought, given the addictive nature of both.
"With cigarettes and alcohol there are more costs - long-term as well as monetary - and the opportunity may not always be the right one," Hofmann said. "So, even though giving in to media desires is certainly less consequential, the frequent use may still 'steal' a lot of people's time."
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