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  #1  
Old 08-18-11, 10:09 AM
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Decision Fatigue: fascinating article

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/ma...ewanted=1&_r=1

thoughts? this article seemed very relevant to me.
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Old 08-18-11, 08:19 PM
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Re: Decision Fatigue: fascinating article

Hey moka, I heard of this awhile back.

So moka, how does your experience exactly line up w/ "ego depletion" or "decision fatigue"?

When I reflect upon my experience w/ADD medications, I associate meds as possibly having an ego boost. Or a reduction in decision fatigue? .. At least, is my first impressions.

There's a good chance the ego does not exist and cannot experience fatigue itself. Or should I say, ego is not the physical description of what is depleted. The term, Ego has a higher level of abstraction, b/c it can be used in an entirely different context and have neither relevance to what the article is about nor the physical associations that were made. Anyway

Quote:
The glucose would at least mitigate the ego depletion and sometimes completely reverse it.
Quote:
The results of the experiment were announced in January, during Heatherton’s speech accepting the leadership of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the world’s largest group of social psychologists. In his presidential address at the annual meeting in San Antonio, Heatherton reported that administering glucose completely reversed the brain changes wrought by depletion — a finding, he said, that thoroughly surprised him. Heatherton’s results did much more than provide additional confirmation that glucose is a vital part of willpower; they helped solve the puzzle over how glucose could work without global changes in the brain’s total energy use. Apparently ego depletion causes activity to rise in some parts of the brain and to decline in others. Your brain does not stop working when glucose is low. It stops doing some things and starts doing others. It responds more strongly to immediate rewards and pays less attention to long-term prospects.


The discoveries about glucose help explain why dieting is a uniquely difficult test of self-control — and why even people with phenomenally strong willpower in the rest of their lives can have such a hard time losing weight. They start out the day with virtuous intentions, resisting croissants at breakfast and dessert at lunch, but each act of resistance further lowers their willpower. As their willpower weakens late in the day, they need to replenish it. But to resupply that energy, they need to give the body glucose. They’re trapped in a nutritional catch-22:


1. In order not to eat, a dieter needs willpower.
2. In order to have willpower, a dieter needs to eat
Hm.

I've noticed today in fact, that I skipped my usual whole microwaved potato (skin and all) along w/other food i have for breakfast. I also noticed that I did not replace the potato w/anything else. Funny, I felt a bit more tired than usual until I ate a potato w/lunch.

Caffeine seems somewhat supplementary to this effect too, and vitamins.
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Old 08-19-11, 12:20 PM
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Re: Decision Fatigue: fascinating article

Oh yes, I'd say this fits me quite well. I get paralyzed when I have to make decisions and end up with what fills like paralysis of will. perhaps they're related. One thing I've really noticed after reading this article is that I put great stock in every decision I make, starting with how I'm going to make coffee. If I put that much energy into decision-making that early, it's no wonder I can't make it through the day. It's funny though, because I've had terrible insomnia over the past few nights and this morning was particularly painful. I mentally wrote-off the day but sat down at my computer anyway, and I've been very productive so far! I think that it's because I had no pressure and haven't been worrying about my decisions much.

An earlier observation I've made about how ritalin helps me is that I stop thinking about things and start doing them. I've been able to observe this a lot recently because ritalin started to wear me down after several months non-stop. I had no energy, felt ill, and no motivation. Perhaps weekly holidays would have been the solution but my pdoc recommended that I don't take breaks. I've recently weaned myself off and then started again in small doses and have been observing the effects.

I don't think anyone is claiming that ego (or in this case, willpower) is an entity in and of itself; they seem to be using it as an abstraction of several (as yet unidentified) underlying processes.

I honestly don't know if this related to ADD but it seems to be for me. Perhaps ADD is the symptom and decision fatigues is the cause in certain people. Given the new understanding of various subtypes of ADD, it makes sense that it might only apply to one of them.

Glucose processing is another reason I connected this with ADD. I remember reading research showing that glucose metabolism (I think shown to be caused by glucose depletion) was reduced in the prefrontal cortex those with ADD. So maybe there's a biological process causing premature decision fatigue. who knows... In any case, I very curious about the relationship with glucose. Many people report that avoiding glucose is best, but maybe because it helps keep levels more constant. Lots of questons...
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Old 08-19-11, 01:07 PM
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Re: Decision Fatigue: fascinating article

For me it isn't fatigue but rather impatience. The more decisions the faster I want to be done. I am also overstimulated by too many choices. I only need a few.
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Old 08-19-11, 01:20 PM
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Re: Decision Fatigue: fascinating article

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Originally Posted by sarahsweets View Post
I am also overstimulated by too many choices. I only need a few.
for me, I've long noted that I do best when I'm stuck in a situation have no choices to make.
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Old 08-20-11, 06:43 AM
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Re: Decision Fatigue: fascinating article

This is a little different from ego depletion.
The topic is very well dealt with by David Rock in his book "Your Brain at Work".
Brain tissue is highly metabolically active and we can tie ourselves up making multiple minor decisions when we need to be working on the big ones

A simple example of this is spending time at the start of the morning doing your major planning for the day before getting into little decisions or answering your emails or getting tied up taking phone calls.
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Old 08-20-11, 06:56 AM
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Re: Decision Fatigue: fascinating article

Here is an interesting bit
Quote:
The results suggested that people spend between three and four hours a day resisting desire. Put another way, if you tapped four or five people at any random moment of the day, one of them would be using willpower to resist a desire. The most commonly resisted desires in the phone study were the urges to eat and sleep, followed by the urge for leisure, like taking a break from work by doing a puzzle or playing a game instead of writing a memo. Sexual urges were next on the list of most-resisted desires, a little ahead of urges for other kinds of interactions, like checking Facebook. To ward off temptation, people reported using various strategies. The most popular was to look for a distraction or to undertake a new activity, although sometimes they tried suppressing it directly or simply toughing their way through it. Their success was decidedly mixed. They were pretty good at avoiding sleep, sex and the urge to spend money, but not so good at resisting the lure of television or the Web or the general temptation to relax instead of work.
Desire as a problem in itself? Does that not resonate strangely well with the basic tenets of so many religions?

When you look at the whole issue of decision fatigue, and the idea of resisting temptations being exhausting- all of a sudden ideas like keeping one's life simple and streamlined and leaning to cultivate equanimity seem much less like old fashioned religious prejudices and much more like a healthy way for the neurolgically savvy person to live his life.

Curiouser and curiouser!
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Old 08-20-11, 07:29 AM
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Re: Decision Fatigue: fascinating article

This is funny:
Quote:
The idea for these experiments also happened to come in the preparations for a wedding, a ritual that seems to be the decision-fatigue equivalent of Hell Week. At his fiancée’s suggestion, Levav visited a tailor to have a bespoke suit made and began going through the choices of fabric, type of lining and style of buttons, lapels, cuffs and so forth.
“By the time I got through the third pile of fabric swatches, I wanted to kill myself,” Levav recalls. “I couldn’t tell the choices apart anymore. After a while my only response to the tailor became ‘What do you recommend?’ I just couldn’t take it.”
No wonder weddings take their toll on relationships.

You know when we were renovating our house 20 years ago - and we got down to choosing the fittings (taps and the like) -it got me so exhausted I just about lost the will to live.


I still feel that way when I have to go to one of those mega- hardware stores.


As was said by the band Devo so many years ago:


"Freedom of Choice, That's what we've got.
Freedom from choice, That's what we want".
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Old 08-20-11, 10:55 AM
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Re: Decision Fatigue: fascinating article

Quote:
Originally Posted by Barliman View Post
When you look at the whole issue of decision fatigue, and the idea of resisting temptations being exhausting- all of a sudden ideas like keeping one's life simple and streamlined and leaning to cultivate equanimity seem much less like old fashioned religious prejudices and much more like a healthy way for the neurolgically savvy person to live his life.

Curiouser and curiouser!
does the idea of a simple, streamlined, maybe old-fashioned life appeal to you? Have you had situations in which your life is really simplified for some period of time? they have always worked out really well for me.
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Old 08-20-11, 06:17 PM
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Re: Decision Fatigue: fascinating article

Quote:
Originally Posted by Barliman View Post
Here is an interesting bit


Desire as a problem in itself? Does that not resonate strangely well with the basic tenets of so many religions?

When you look at the whole issue of decision fatigue, and the idea of resisting temptations being exhausting- all of a sudden ideas like keeping one's life simple and streamlined and leaning to cultivate equanimity seem much less like old fashioned religious prejudices and much more like a healthy way for the neurolgically savvy person to live his life.

Curiouser and curiouser!
I would draw a distinction between "desire" and actual decision-making. My desires are useful information. For instance, if I desire a cookie, it's probably because I'm running low on carbs or fat for the day, and need to eat something healthy. Desiring isn't the problem. Even the temptation in this instance is pretty easy for me to work around.

The problem happens when I need to make a decision. Let's say I need a new jacket because I old one is falling to pieces, but there are just so many jackets to choose from. This is in fact why I. Hate. Shopping. So. Very. Much. Right now I'm wearing jeans with a giant hole in the knee, and probably won't replace them until the incipient hole in the crotch makes them indecent and impractical.

Believe me, the issue here isn't desiring a new pair of jeans ... I wish to gods I had fewer choices in jeans, as long as one of those choices actually fits my body. Better yet, I wish the pair of jeans I'm wearing would last forever. Then I would never have to go shopping for clothes every again. Ah, bliss.

I certainly do try to streamline my life so I don't expend so much energy on decision-making, and in large part I am successful. I'd actually say that this is *because* of my desire to expend my energy in other ways.
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Old 08-20-11, 06:54 PM
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Re: Decision Fatigue: fascinating article

Quote:
Originally Posted by AddaptAbilities View Post
I would draw a distinction between "desire" and actual decision-making. My desires are useful information. For instance, if I desire a cookie, it's probably because I'm running low on carbs or fat for the day, and need to eat something healthy. Desiring isn't the problem. Even the temptation in this instance is pretty easy for me to work around.

The problem happens when I need to make a decision. Let's say I need a new jacket because I old one is falling to pieces, but there are just so many jackets to choose from. This is in fact why I. Hate. Shopping. So. Very. Much. Right now I'm wearing jeans with a giant hole in the knee, and probably won't replace them until the incipient hole in the crotch makes them indecent and impractical.

Believe me, the issue here isn't desiring a new pair of jeans ... I wish to gods I had fewer choices in jeans, as long as one of those choices actually fits my body. Better yet, I wish the pair of jeans I'm wearing would last forever. Then I would never have to go shopping for clothes every again. Ah, bliss.

I certainly do try to streamline my life so I don't expend so much energy on decision-making, and in large part I am successful. I'd actually say that this is *because* of my desire to expend my energy in other ways.
I hear you- I hate shopping and it drives my wife and daughter to despair.

It is too easy to confuse "desire" with greed.
Early in my course of management of my ADHD I grasped this when I realised that work was easy- just because the subroutines of what I did with each patient were well bedded down in my subconscious. A head cold-hit "decision tree 1", Hypertension hit "decision tree 2" etc.

Furthermore- somebody else books my patients in for me so I do not even need to prioritise workflow.

However - Saurday morning- , need to go to the market, need to work in the garden, need to wash the car, need to call my mother, need to find a way to be closer to my kids who was somewhat tetchy and hard to be with ( because of my distracted irritable behaviour when my ADHD was undiagnosed) etc--- too many decisions to make- paralysis.

I can be faced with the requirement to make a choice between doing 3 different things- all of which are to benefit other people- not just myself- and that burden of choices still creates the physiological burden associated with decision making
In this case I can be shot down by my desire to do the right thing.

That decision making imposes a physiological burden is the interesting issue.

There is plenty of evidence that ADHD people are predominantly right brain-- visuo-spatial thinkers and this means that by default our senses are asssailed with more inputs- hence more choices.

Back to Freedom of Choice- Devo:
Quote:
in ancient rome there was a poem
about a dog who found two bones
he picked at one
he licked the other
he went in circles
he dropped dead
And that IS based on a story from Roman times- so the phenomenon of "decision fatigue" has been a subject of popular discussion for millenia.
Interesting, isn't it?
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Old 08-20-11, 07:07 PM
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Re: Decision Fatigue: fascinating article

I came across this TED video by psychologist Barry Schwartz, titled "The Paradox of Choice", that discusses how the power of choice is much more paralyzing than it is satisfying.

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Old 08-20-11, 09:49 PM
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Re: Decision Fatigue: fascinating article

Quote:
Originally Posted by moka View Post
does the idea of a simple, streamlined, maybe old-fashioned life appeal to you? Have you had situations in which your life is really simplified for some period of time? they have always worked out really well for me.
Simple_definitely.

I love the stark, spartan Japanese/Zen style.

Old fashioned_ up to a point. There are plenty of good things in the modern world- the internet and electric guitars come to mind.( and of course anaesthetics and antibiotics if needed).
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Old 08-23-11, 03:36 PM
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Re: Decision Fatigue: fascinating article

Quote:
Originally Posted by Barliman View Post

I can be faced with the requirement to make a choice between doing 3 different things- all of which are to benefit other people- not just myself- and that burden of choices still creates the physiological burden associated with decision making
In this case I can be shot down by my desire to do the right thing.

That decision making imposes a physiological burden is the interesting issue.
Definitely. Though, since we think with the brain, it's hardly surprising

I heard something on NPR several years ago about an economist who was trying to figure out the ... point of optimal optimalization, I guess. Basically, consumer choice is good, because the more choices you have the more change you have of getting what you want, right? Well, as we've been discussing, that's only true up to a point -- the point of decision fatigue. The economist was trying to see if she could put a number to that point.

I was working outdoor retail at the time, and it reminded me of the HUGE wall of hiking socks we had in our store. There were several brands of socks, each offering several different lengths, and several different types from "ultralight" to "expedition". Many a customer would stand in front of the wall and say "I just want a pair of socks!". Since it was my job, at times, to sort said wall of socks, I totally sympathized...
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Old 08-24-11, 07:22 AM
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Re: Decision Fatigue: fascinating article

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Originally Posted by AddaptAbilities View Post
Definitely. Though, since we think with the brain, it's hardly surprising

I heard something on NPR several years ago about an economist who was trying to figure out the ... point of optimal optimalization, I guess. Basically, consumer choice is good, because the more choices you have the more change you have of getting what you want, right? Well, as we've been discussing, that's only true up to a point -- the point of decision fatigue. The economist was trying to see if she could put a number to that point.

I was working outdoor retail at the time, and it reminded me of the HUGE wall of hiking socks we had in our store. There were several brands of socks, each offering several different lengths, and several different types from "ultralight" to "expedition". Many a customer would stand in front of the wall and say "I just want a pair of socks!". Since it was my job, at times, to sort said wall of socks, I totally sympathized...
The thing is that the brain is very busy all the time doing all kind of background tasks- so the observation that there is an increased load and a refractory period as well is interesting- and goes against what the productivity freaks who employ most of us would like to believe.
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