How you can trick yourself into being more patient

| Updated: Apr 05, 2017 12:14 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Apr. 5 (ANI): If you want to become more patient, then you may want to start imagining that as a recent study has suggested so. By using functional MRI (fMRI) to look inside the brain, UC Berkeley neuroscientists Adrianna Jenkins and Ming Hsu found that imagination is a pathway toward patience. Imagining an outcome before acting upon an impulse may help increase patience without relying on increased willpower. Scientists call this technique, "framing effects," or making small changes to how options are presented or framed and the method may increase a person's ability to exercise patience. The authors' approach stands in contrast to previous research, which has mostly focused on the exertion of willpower to positively affect a person's patience. "Whereas willpower might enable people to override impulses, imagining the consequences of their choices might change the impulses," Jenkins says. "People tend to pay attention to what is in their immediate vicinity, but there are benefits to imagining the possible consequences of their choices." Hsu and Jenkins conducted two experiments to explore the role of imagination and willpower on patience. In the studies, participants made choices about when to receive different amounts of money depending on how the offer is framed. The actual reward outcomes were identical, but the way they were framed differed. "There is a long tendency of behavioral interventions, ranging from promoting healthy eating to reducing drug dependence, to appeal to willpower. For example, 'commit to be fit' or 'don't do drugs'," Hsu says. "Our findings highlight the potential benefits of interventions that change the nature of the impulses themselves by encouraging people to imagine the consequences of their choices." The researchers acknowledge that using brain scans to study human cognition has its limitations because it relies on certain assumptions about the links between brain regions and their functions. This is why the experiments combined several methods, which all converge on a similar conclusion. "We know people often have difficulty being patient," Jenkins says. "Our findings suggest that imagination is a possible route for attaining patience that may be more sustainable and practical than exerting willpower." The study appears in Psychological Science. (ANI)