The results were basically the same as before. As reported in the October 2008 issue of the journal Psychological Science, those who read the instructions in the mentally challenging script saw the task as time-consuming and requiring a high level of culinary skill; they were not apt to try it themselves. They, in effect, viewed the alien writing as a proxy for the actual task and as a result ended up avoiding it. Those who received the more digestible instructions were much more likely to head for the kitchen and sharpen their knives.
Our brains employ all kinds of tricks and shortcuts to get us through the day with the least mental and physical effort, but it is good to be wary of these automatic judgments. If unchecked, our tendency to confuse thoughts and actions can make dubious choices seem easier and more desirable than they ought to be, or it can discourage us from healthy habits and creative exploration. After all, most of the time using a “self-operating” napkin is just as simple as it appears to be.
Note: This article was originally printed with the title, "A Recipe for Motivation".
This article was originally published with the title A Recipe for Motivation.