Dark Chocolate

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Science  16 Jul 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5989, pp. 259
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5989.259-c

Doing nothing often seems harder than doing something, even if that something is effortful and serves no apparent purpose. Hsee et al. demonstrate how little is needed to motivate students to take a 15-minute walk to drop off a survey instead of waiting in a room and dropping off the survey next door. Offering them a choice of milk versus dark chocolates at the two locations increased the percentage of ambulatory students from a third to more than half. Furthermore, in the group of subjects who were offered the same kind of chocolate at both locations (and thus could not justify the trip on the basis of preferring the faraway chocolate) the few who walked were happier than the many who waited. Finally, when students were obligated to make the short journey, they were happier being active for those 15 minutes rather than remaining idle. Hence, in the absence of constructive goals there still seems to be a happy preference for busyness.

Psychol. Sci. 21, 10.1177/0956797610374738 (2010).

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