Roy Baumeister to Discuss ‘Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength’

September 24, 2012 | by the Office of Communications and Public Affairs

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, will talk about his 2011 book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, at Elmhurst College on Thursday, September 27. 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.

Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength is part of the Science, Technology and Society lecture series. The lecture will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 27, in the Founders Lounge of the Frick Center. Admission is $10 for the general public and free for Elmhurst College students, faculty, staff and alumni. Tickets are available at the door or online. For more information, call (630) 617-3390.

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