The push and pull of temptation: The bidirectional influence of temptation on self-control

Loran F. Nordgren, Eileen Y. Chou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


This article examines how people respond to the emergence of temptation in their environment. Three studies demonstrated that how people respond to temptation depends critically on their visceral state-whether or not they are actively experiencing visceral drives such as hunger, drug craving, or sexual arousal. We found that when people were in a "cold," nonvisceral state, the presence of temptation prompted cognition to support self-control. However, when people were in a "hot," visceral state, temptation prompted the same cognitive processes to support impulsive behavior. Study 1 examined how heterosexual men's level of sexual arousal influences their attention to attractive women. Study 2 examined whether satiated and craving smokers would engage in motivated reasoning in order to dampen (or enhance) the appeal of smoking when confronted with the temptation to smoke. Study 3 tested the boundaries of the interaction between visceral state and temptation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1386-1390
Number of pages5
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • self-control
  • social cognition
  • temptation
  • visceral drives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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