The Science Of Willpower

The science of willpower. How to build it. What it can and cannot do.

In this book cover "Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength," by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney, is shown. (AP) 

The world is an unpredictable place. It’s comforting to think we at least have some self-control. Willpower.

But willpower itself is slippery. Some days, some times we may have it. Some days, some times we may not. To eat or not eat the doughnut. Study the extra hour. My guests today have studied what willpower is. What bolsters it. What cuts it down. What influence it has in lives when starting places and circumstances can be so wildly different.

This hour On Point: we’re looking at the science and circumstances of willpower.

-Tom Ashbrook


John Tierney, New York Times columnist and co-author of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength.

Roy Baumeister, psychology professor at Florida State University and co-author of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times “Ever since Adam and Eve ate the apple, Ulysses had himself tied to the mast, the grasshopper sang while the ant stored food and St. Augustine prayed “Lord make me chaste — but not yet,” individuals have struggled with self-control. In today’s world this virtue is all the more vital, because now that we have largely tamed the scourges of nature, most of our troubles are self-inflicted. We eat, drink, smoke and gamble too much, max out our credit cards, fall into dangerous liaisons and become addicted to heroin, cocaine and e-mail.”


You can find a PDF excerpt here.


“You Can Get It If You Really Want” by Jimmy Cliff
“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by The Rolling Stones

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