Researchers have found that people’s willpower and impulsive motivations are simultaneously activated when making health-related choices. The balance between the two is different within each individual.
To obtain their results, psychologists asked participants to choose which of two foods was more healthful on a computer screen, and then afterwards, to choose which of two foods to eat. The participants who chose less healthy food at the study’s end were more likely to have spent time hovering their mouse over the image of unhealthy food on the screen.
Paul Stillman, the lead researcher, concludes that "our hand movements reveal the process of exercising self-control. You can see the struggle as it happens. For those with low self-control, the temptation is actually drawing their hand closer to the less healthy choice."