Willpower

Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength

By Roy F. Baumeister; John Tierney
(Penguin Press, Hardcover, 9781594203077, 304pp.)

Publication Date: September 1, 2011

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Description
One of the world's most esteemed and influential psychologists, Roy F. Baumeister, teams with "New York Times" science writer John Tierney to reveal the secrets of self-control and how to master it.

In "Willpower," the pioneering researcher Roy F. Baumeister collaborates with renowned "New York Times" science writer John Tierney to revolutionize our understanding of the most coveted human virtue: self-control.

In what became one of the most cited papers in social science literature, Baumeister discovered that willpower actually operates like a muscle: it can be strengthened with practice and fatigued by overuse. Willpower is fueled by glucose, and it can be bolstered simply by replenishing the brain's store of fuel. That's why eating and sleeping- and especially failing to do either of those-have such dramatic effects on self-control (and why dieters have such a hard time resisting temptation).

Baumeister's latest research shows that we typically spend four hours every day resisting temptation. No wonder people around the world rank a lack of self-control as their biggest weakness. "Willpower" looks to the lives of entrepreneurs, parents, entertainers, and artists-including David Blaine, Eric Clapton, and others-who have flourished by improving their self-control.

The lessons from their stories and psychologists' experiments can help anyone. You learn not only how to build willpower but also how to conserve it for crucial moments by setting the right goals and using the best new techniques for monitoring your progress. Once you master these techniques and establish the right habits, willpower gets easier: you'll need less conscious mental energy to avoid temptation. That's neither magic nor empty self-help sloganeering, but rather a solid path to a better life.

Combining the best of modern social science with practical wisdom, Baumeister and Tierney here share the definitive compendium of modern lessons in willpower. As our society has moved away from the virtues of thrift and self-denial, it often feels helpless because we face more temptations than ever. But we also have more knowledge and better tools for taking control of our lives. However we define happiness-a close- knit family, a satisfying career, financial security-we won't reach it without mastering self-control.




About the Author
Roy F. Baumeister holds the Eppes Eminent Professorship in Psychology at Florida State University, where he is the head of the social psychology graduate program and teaches social psychology to students at all levels. He has taught introductory social psychology to thousands of undergraduate students. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1978, and his teaching and research activities have included appointments at the University of California at Berkeley, Case Western Reserve University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Virginia, the Max Planck Institute in Munich (Germany), the VU Free University of Amsterdam (Netherlands), and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford. Baumeister is an active researcher whose work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and by the Templeton Foundation. He has done research on the self (including self-esteem and self-control), the need to belong, sexuality, aggression, and how people find meaning in life. In 2005, the Institute for Scientific Information concluded from a survey of published bibliographies that he was among the most influential psychologists in the world. According to Google Scholar, his works have been cited over 70,000 times in the scientific literature. In his (very rare) spare time, he likes to ski and play jazz. In 2013 he received the William James Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Association for Psychological Science in all of psychology, as recognition of his lifetime achievements and contributions to basic scientific research in psychology.

John Tierney is Senior Lecturer in the School of Applied Social Sciences at Durham University, UK. His research interests include criminological theory and its historical development, and alcohol consumption, crime and disorder.


NPR
Sunday, Sep 18, 2011

In their new book Willpower, psychologist Roy Baumeister and science writer John Tierney explore the science of self-control. Willpower is a limited resource, they say, but with practice and persistence, you can harness "the greatest human strength." More at NPR.org

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