Attempting to tackle too many things in one go makes it more likely for you to give in to your unhealthy food cravings, according to a new study conducted by a team fromUniversity of New South Wales Sydney.
While most people already know how difficult it is to say no to a bag of potato chips or a slice of chocolate cake, the new study explores why it is easier to give in to temptation when we have to perform a task.
Researchers say when we run out of control resources that help us to say no to unhealthy foods or behaviours, it becomes difficult for us humans to ignore the reward signals. The team came to this conclusion through their investigation. For the study, participants had to watch a screen that displayed various shapes, which included squares, circles, diamonds, and triangles. The group was told to focus on the diamond and ignore the object used as a "rewarding" distractor - colourful circles. The participants were successfully able to carry out this stage at this point.
In the second phase,participants were told to perform the same task, However, this time they also had to memorise a few numbers. This little addition means they did not have as much control resource at their disposal. By tracking their eye movements, the team found under "high memory load. Participants looked at the colourful circle almost half of the time.
The findings suggest we need to be wiser about how we use our resources in order to be able to ignore unwanted signals of reward. This new study could also be instrumental in helping treat people with addictions.
The study's findings were originally published in the journal Psychological Science.