What is your favorite vice? Drinking? Taking a long drag from your favorite cigarette? How about being more ‘hip’ – by being addicted to Twitter? Researchers who made an attempt at measuring just how folks resist their desires claim that it is harder to resist checking your Twitter account compared to lighting up a cigarette or taking a swig of your favorite poison. This team is headed by Wilhelm Hofmann of Chicago University’s Booth Business School, where their experiment relied on BlackBerrys, gauging the willpower of 205 people who are aged between 18 and 85 throughout the German city of Würtzburg in order to monitor such responses within an environment that is as real as possible.
These participants were signalled seven times a day over 14 hours for a week consecutively, in order for them to message back as to whether they were experiencing a desire at that moment or had experienced one within the last half hour, the kind of desire, its strength, and whether there was any conflict with other desires, and ultimately – their response. 10,558 responses and 7,827 “desire episodes” were reported in this survey, and what Hofmann concluded was interesting, “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. With cigarettes and alcohol there are more costs – long-term as well as monetary – and the opportunity may not always be the right one. 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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