Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Inhibitory Spillover

In case you thought cognitive scientists had no sense of humor, here's the abstract of an amusing study published this month in Psychological Science.

Inhibitory Spillover: Increased Urination Urgency Facilitates Impulse Control in Unrelated Domains (Tuk et al., 2011)
Visceral states, such as hunger and sexual desire, can affect how people make decisions. But would a visceral factor associated with inhibition, like controlling a full bladder, affect decision making? Using four different experimental situations, researchers tested how university students would perform in decision-making tasks after they had a large drink (high bladder pressure) or a small drink (low bladder pressure). They found that individuals who had greater urination urgency had decreased response times, and they were more likely to choose long-term rewards over short-term rewards in decision-making tasks. These findings suggest that the inhibitory signals from increasing levels of bladder pressure could transfer to other domains, thereby improving impulse behavior in unrelated domains.
Conclusion: Don't use the restroom before making important decisions...?