Dr.Kathy Johnson, PhD, CMC
Many of the diseases and conditions that we provide services for here at Home Care Assistance have to do with behavior – whether it be caring for a dementia patient who has behavioral issues or regulating a diabetic’s diet, behavior plays a enormous part in our day to day lives.
Although our caregiver’s support is helpful, a Stanford University study is showing that the patient may have more of an ability to regulate their own behavior than we think.
The study is based on the premise that people are generally placed into two groups in terms of their perception of willpower, wherein one group believes willpower is ‘unlimited’ and the other sees it as ‘limited.’ Researchers at Stanford University determined which group their test subjects fell under using a questionnaire, and then randomly split them up into two groups. The subjects in each group were then provided with an exam, one group’s being more difficult and involved than the others. Those who saw willpower as unlimited were more accurate on the test, regardless of its difficulty, than those who were less optimistic.
The researchers then went on to reproduce the same results with subjects who were manipulated into thinking willpower was limited or unlimited, suggesting that willpower can be controlled in certain circumstances.
The idea that willpower is limitless is very powerful. Heather Schwartz, a medical nutrition therapist at Stanford Hospital & Clinic sees the findings as beneficial to her patients’ health in the long-run. “If a patient finds sticking to their goals difficult,” Schwartz said, “I can now tell them that the willpower is there — and that they just have to ‘access it.'”