Roy Baumeister on Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength

September 27, 2012

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Roy Baumeister

What is willpower, and how much control do we really have over it? Through ingenious experiments, social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister discovered that the will, like a muscle, can grow tired, be invigorated by a sugar fix, and even be toned and strengthened by purposeful “exercise.” 

Baumeister, whose work focuses on willpower, free will and self-control, talks about his 2011 book, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, at Elmhurst College. Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker calls Willpower (written with New York Times science writer John Tierney) "immensely rewarding, filled with wise advice and insightful reflections on the human condition."
 
The Francis Eppes Professor of Psychology at Florida State University, Baumeister conducted research showing that willpower is an entity, fueled by glucose, and that 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.
 
Willpower explores Baumeister’s research and also 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.
 
Elmhurst College is a leading liberal arts college located eight miles west of Chicago. The College’s mission is to prepare its students for meaningful and ethical work in a multicultural, global society. Approximately 3,400 full- and part-time students are enrolled in its 23 undergraduate academic departments and nine graduate degree programs.
 
Recorded Thursday, September 27, 2012 at Elmhurst College.