Photo: flickr/globalcosmicPsychologists have long known that we only have a limited amount of self-control at any given time. So, if you use it up in one area of your life, you're at risk of giving in to temptation in another area. This study focused on one example of this phenomenon: testing whether dieting makes people more likely to commit infidelity. The subjects were college students in committed relationships. First, they completed a "food-restriction task" that involved sitting in front of plates of radishes and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and being told to refrain from eating either the radishes or the cookies (the latter condition presumably requiring more self-control than the former, unless you're a rabbit). The subjects were then asked to participate in an online conversation with "a confederate" who was instructed to flirt with them and ask them out for coffee. Turns out that the people who had to refrain from eating the cookies were more likely to accept the date and give out their phone number than those who refrained from radishes. So the next time you're tempted by that donut, consider giving in -- it just might save your marriage.Hungry for love: the influence of self-regulation on infidelity. "The current research examines the effect of self-regulation on the likelihood of committing infidelity. Thirty-two college students in exclusive romantic relationships interacted through a private chat room with an opposite-sex confederate. Prior to this interaction, a food-restriction task depleted half the participants of self-control. As predicted, depleted levels of self-regulation increased the likelihood of infidelity. Specifically, depleted participants were more likely to both accept a coffee date from and supply a personal telephone number to the confederate than non-depleted participants. Weakened self-control may be one potential cause for the levels of infidelity occurring in romantic partnerships today."
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