You know how right when you get your bad habit under control, you let yourself indulge just a little bit as a reward and, BAM, you’re off the wagon? According to the SciAm, that’s because your brain is over estimating how much self-control you actually have. Northwestern researchers tested this on a group of smokers:

“Restraint bias offers insight into how our erroneous beliefs about self-restraint promote impulsive behavior,” says lead author Loran F. Nordgren of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. “It helps us to understand puzzles in addiction research such as why recovered addicts often relapse after they have broken free of withdrawal symptoms.” The lesson? When you’ve made progress avoiding your indulgences and that little voice in your head tells you it’s okay to start exposing yourself to temptation again­—ignore it.

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