Contradicting a popular model of self-control, a University of Pennsylvania psychologist says the data from a 2007 study argues against the idea that glucose is the resource used to manage self control and that humans rely on this energy source for will power.
The analysis, conducted by Robert Kurzban and published in the current issue of the journal Evolutionary Psychology, shows that evidence previously presented in favor of the claim that the brain consumes extra glucose when people exert self-control shows no such thing.
By analyzing the portion of the data made available by prior researchers, Kurzban discovered that, in the studies reported, glucose levels did not decrease among subjects who had performed self-control tasks. In short, his reanalysis shows that the researchers’ own data undermine the model they advance in their paper.
Further, research on exercise shows that burning calories through physical activity, which really does consume substantial amounts of glucose, in fact shows the reverse pattern from what the model would predict: People who have recently exercised and burned glucose are better, not worse, on the sorts of tasks used in the self-control literature.
Interesting counterargument for a hot psychological model!