The Science Behind New Year’s Resolutions


It’s that time of year again, when many people
resolve to learn a new skill, give up something that’s bad for them, or simply put more effort
in at school. But do New Year’s resolutions work?
Research by British psychologist Richard Wiseman in 2007 has shown that 88% of all resolutions
end in failure. Many continue to make the same resolutions year in and year out.
So why are New Year’s resolutions so hard to keep?
Our prefrontal cortex, a small area in the brain, is responsible for our willpower. The
prefrontal cortex is pretty busy. It not only has to keep our New Year’s resolutions on
track, it also has to take charge of short term memory, solving abstract problems and
keeping us focused. It’s not a lack of discipline, it’s your overworked brain being too busy.
In one experiment several dozen undergraduates were divided into two groups. One group of
students was given a 2-digit number to remember, while the other group had to memorise a 7-digit
figure. They were then instructed to walk down a hall where they were each offered a
snack of either a slice of chocolate cake or a bowl of fruit salad. The students with
seven digits to remember were nearly twice as likely to choose the cake as students given
two digits. The reason, according to researchers, is that those extra numbers took up valuable
space in the brain, they were a “cognitive load”, making it that much harder to resist
a dessert. So now we know what doesn’t work when it comes
to keeping those resolutions, let’s take a look at what might help.
Researchers suggest we think of willpower as a muscle that needs to be strengthened.
They suggest that it might be possible to strengthen willpower by exercising it.
In one experiment, they asked a group of students to improve their posture for two weeks, thereby
practicing mental discipline in one area. The students showed a marked improvement on
subsequent measures of self-control, at least when compared to a group that didn’t work
on posture control. If you concentrate on one thing at a time, this will strengthen
you willpower in other areas. The key is not to overload your prefrontal cortex.
Now that you’ve picked one resolution, make sure to break down as far as you can, to the
simplest task possible. If your goal is to lose 15kg this year, break it up into segments
of half kg per week or 2 kg per month. Above all, don’t use your resolutions as a
stick to beat yourself with. Ditch the negative connotations and instead focus on what those
small changes will bring to your life in a positive way in the coming year.
So what’s your New Year’s resolution? Leave a comment below and subscribe for more videos.

44 Comments

  1. FeidanXsama said:

    Learn Kanji

    December 27, 2013
    Reply
  2. Jooshlypuff said:

    2nd lol

    December 27, 2013
    Reply
  3. John Doe said:

    I can't wait until this channel gets popular, then I can say I was the 3566th subscriber.

    December 27, 2013
    Reply
  4. Manav Trivedi said:

    i look forward to ur videos in 2014

    December 27, 2013
    Reply
  5. Guru da Ciência said:

    Interesting! 
    Also, 88% of failure? Mine worked out! 😀

    December 27, 2013
    Reply
  6. keokiracerhalsteren said:

    Richard Wiseman, he's the guy behind the Quirkology channel, right?

    December 27, 2013
    Reply
  7. NienteDaFareCom said:

    Keep watching you all the year coming.
    It's not gona be hard  😉

    December 27, 2013
    Reply
  8. Azx said:

    This channel will surely go big if you keep up the great work.

    December 27, 2013
    Reply
  9. C M said:

    Richard Wiseman?  Quirkology!  Yeah!

    December 27, 2013
    Reply
  10. C M said:

    Richard Wiseman runs the Quirkology channel on Youtube.

    December 27, 2013
    Reply
  11. Josh Harris said:

    I did pretty good with mine this year, got a car and a job and passed school this year.

    December 27, 2013
    Reply
  12. Bier B said:

    Someone asks what you wanna do for your years resolution
    You answer nerfed out "i dunno.. eat a salad or something.."

    December 27, 2013
    Reply
  13. MightyAntyz said:

    Didn't you have 20000 subscribers yesterday?

    December 28, 2013
    Reply
  14. Aaron said:

    I can't wait for NIL to get the recognition they deserve 🙂

    December 28, 2013
    Reply
  15. vilestine said:

    Quit smoking, quit drinking till my birthday (6 months) and lose some weight. I know I can do it 😛

    December 28, 2013
    Reply
  16. Quad said:

    My new year's resolution is 1920×1080

    December 28, 2013
    Reply
  17. Mastering Tricking said:

    Eat healthier!

    December 28, 2013
    Reply
  18. Joseph Fox said:

    cure all the worlds problems, I may not be able to do it in one year through

    December 28, 2013
    Reply
  19. AwesomeGuy said:

    I'll study more.

    December 28, 2013
    Reply
  20. Chris said:

    I like these videos, but asking people to donate is just greedy.
    Especially when you get money from youtube themselves

    December 28, 2013
    Reply
  21. Yevhenii Diomidov said:

    My new year resoultion? Probably 1080p.

    December 28, 2013
    Reply
  22. Martin Zhang said:

    Congratulations on becoming the President of Space, Mr. President, sir.

    December 29, 2013
    Reply
  23. will carella said:

    In a couple years u will have a crazy amount of subscribers. I'm glad I'm on of the first to see ur channel and support it

    January 1, 2014
    Reply
  24. Alex Pyrgakis said:

    remember this the next new year wen you'll have 10x + subscribers 🙂
    happy new year!

    January 1, 2014
    Reply
  25. Hyena Edits said:

    My resolution was to do better in school, but to narrow it down I'll work on one subject at a time.

    January 2, 2014
    Reply
  26. EpicAnimeMan said:

    Great channel, I don't normally sub but you've earned it.

    January 2, 2014
    Reply
  27. Dibo said:

    Wow I am so subbing and likening I love ur work gods luck on growing ur amazing channel

    January 2, 2014
    Reply
  28. ThePenutbut said:

    NIL. Slow down a bit there. Try to not be talking like your reading off a essay in class that you just want to finish, but more like your very interested in what your talking about and you can't wait to teach others about. Either way i just found your channel watched a few vids and i like you guys. gl with the new year!

    January 2, 2014
    Reply
  29. Sebastián Rodríguez said:

    Holy mackeral! I have 11 new year resolutions, I guess I´ll have to follow one resolution per month! Great channel, keep the videos comin´! Subbed :D!

    January 2, 2014
    Reply
  30. buu700 said:

    i actually have a pretty good willpower if i really want somthing

    January 3, 2014
    Reply
  31. sercretunicorn said:

    this seems EXACTLY like asapscience not really that original….

    January 3, 2014
    Reply
  32. Joshua Brockschmidt said:

    Good video. Very well done. I'm suprised your channel isn't more popular.

    January 6, 2014
    Reply
  33. Karate Frog said:

    I agree to this. I have a goal to cut down on drinking soda, and replace it with water. I have a hard time drinking water,  and the only reason why I failed at it is because I started out big… like going cold turkey on soda the first day in years past. But this time I only did a few pints the first week, then the second week I added 1 more pint. It really just starts small, and water has been a lot easier for me to drink and soda isn't as appetizing. To think I'd kick an habit I been doing for 15 years. All I have to do is keep it up slowly. Never jump to conclusions! You have a year after all!

    Another good piece of advice is try to make goals that relate to each other, so when you work on them, they all help each other. (Ex. Drink less soda works with losing weight.)

    January 6, 2014
    Reply
  34. Jasper Liang said:

    i like this! subbed!

    January 8, 2014
    Reply
  35. NewLife400 said:

    Amazing channel ,, keep up the great work 

    January 8, 2014
    Reply
  36. Jacoby Bonqueque said:

    I wanted to yawn while watching this but I couldn't. That's probably one of the most annoying feelings ever.

    January 10, 2014
    Reply
  37. jonas samuel said:

    Awesome video!
    This topic Is really interesting to me, i hope you make more video's in this direction (or what ever you like to focus on 🙂 ) ,
    i have 2 book suggestions on the topic of "irrational human beings", (both by world renowned professors of psychology and neuroscience. )
    1. "predictably irrational", by daniel ariely.
    2. "who is in charge", by Michael Gazzaniga.

    I wrote an essay about this as well in case you are interested, i uploaded it into my youtube channel, (would love to get some feedback 🙂 )
    (Topic: Why humans are, and need to be irrational)

    It would be great if you could provide some further sources, i study in an interdisciplinary program, focusing on Neurology, psychology, cognitive sciences, philosophy, and antropology.

    Have a great day, thank you for your videos :)!, keep it up!

    January 26, 2014
    Reply
  38. BlackJoe23 said:

    3840×1080

    January 27, 2014
    Reply
  39. S/LT. said:

    so little views for such a great video
    this explains a lot to meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

    January 27, 2014
    Reply
  40. Ian Olear said:

    subscribed! really like this channel and can't wait to see what's next 😀

    January 28, 2014
    Reply
  41. VooDooWhoo said:

    This channel is awesome , so glad I subscribed, keep up the good job !!!!

    February 25, 2014
    Reply
  42. Victor Silva said:

    We can work more in our resolutions, and try do it , however difficult it may be. Many say "same stupid things, different year", but we must show that it is not like that and fulfill what we propose for a new year.

    January 11, 2018
    Reply
  43. Nacho Salinas Garcia said:

    It is true that humans don't care about new year resolutions like the video explain us, is quite funny that every single year we propose to be better in a lot of topics like: love , work or at school. However is not up to us because the will of reach our new year resolutions is in our brain. In conclusion is too difficult to reach our New year resolutions
    My resolutions
    Become a better student
    Improve my behavior with my parents
    Enter in the univesity

    January 13, 2018
    Reply
  44. sebas lopez said:

    My resolutions
    Become a better student
    Improve my behavior with my parents
    Enter in the univesity
    try to be better son

    January 13, 2018
    Reply

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