A Devil On Each Shoulder: When (and Why) Greater Cognitive Capacity Impairs Self-Control?

Loran F. Nordgren, Eileen Y. Chou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This article examines how cognitive capacity influences self-control. Two studies demonstrated a cognitive capacity by visceral state interaction. Study 1 found that cognitive load impaired self-control for satiated smokers but increased self-control for craved smokers. Study 2 replicated this effect in the context of dieting. Hungry dieters who were given the opportunity to deliberate selected more unhealthy snacks compared to hungry dieters who were forced to make an immediate choice. Study 2 also demonstrated the process driving this effect. The authors found that visceral states bias information processing in ways that promote impulsive behavior, thereby turning cognition into a vehicle for impulsive action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-237
Number of pages5
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • deliberation
  • self-control
  • visceral drives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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