What strategies do people use to resist desires in their day‐to‐day life? How effective are these strategies? Do people use different strategies for different desires? This study addresses these questions using experience sampling to examine strategy use in daily life.
Participants (N = 197, M
age = 20.4, 63% female) reported on their use of six specific strategies (situation modification, distraction, reminding self of goals, promise to give in later, reminder of why it is bad, willpower) to resist desires (4,462 desires reported over a week).
Participants reported using at least one strategy 89% of the time, and more than one strategy 25% of the time. Goal reminders and promises to give in later were more likely to be used for stronger desires. People also preferred different strategies for different types of desires (e.g., eating vs. leisure vs. work, etc.).
In contrast to recent theoretical predictions, we find that many strategies, including inhibition, are similarly effective and that using multiple strategies is especially effective.