Learning Restraint in Movements May Help Curb Risk-Taking Behaviors
We all have probably been in a situation where we’ve acted impulsively. For a split second, we lose the ability to reason and just succumb to our urges without thinking the situation through. Scientists have long studied the role that impulse behavior plays in perpetuating addictions such as gambling.
A joint study conducted by researchers at the University of Exeter and the University of Cardiff indicates that people can overcome impulses by slowing down and restricting certain movements. Several experiments were conducted asking participants to refrain from certain movements while gambling to see if bets placed were more safe or risky as a result.
The first experiment entailed asking participants to take part in a computer simulated gambling game. Each person was asked to refrain from placing a bet when a stop signal was given on their computer.
As a consequence of having to wait a few moments before wagering, participants became more conservative with their bets. Results suggest that having to pause and refrain from certain movements may help curb haphazard decisions when it comes to parting with one’s finances.
The next two experiments tested whether using these sorts of stopping gestures with participants repeatedly for a short period of time would have any long-term impacts on gambling. While risk-taking was not eliminated, researchers discovered that those exposed to the inhibition training did show a 10 to 15 percent reduction in gambling for up to two hours after the training.
Researchers note that participants in the study were healthy and free of gambling addictions. However, they are hopeful that the results may prove helpful in treating impulse illnesses such as pathological gambling, where individuals exhibit difficulty in restraint. Other implications of the study are its applications in curbing other addictions such as smoking or binge eating.