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How effortful something feels will depend on what else is available. It is more effortful to work with an alternative nearby, such as your smartphone to browse Instagram instead.
If we see effort as a comparison of alternatives, then habits - automated behaviour - can reduce the desire to reach for a substitute.
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The willpower to do a specific activity depends on learning the value of the activity itself.
The opportunity-cost theory suggests that if you can establish that a particular activity is rewarding compared to alternatives, it will become less effortful.
What makes something effortful? For example, why is it harder to do a math problem than play a video game?
Understanding how effort works is essential. Many of our goals will require a lot of it. If we have the wrong view on how effort works, many of our systems will fail ...
A new way of thinking about effort is in terms of opportunity cost. In the paper "An Opportunity Cost Model of Subjective Effort and Task Performance", Robert Kurzban and co-authors argue that certain parts of your brain can deploy many possible functions.
However, the ex...
At first, the ego-depletion theory was the dominant model on how effort works. It argues that willpower was a resource that could be depleted. Like a muscle, it could also be strengthened.
But the theory was criticised. Giving a reward could increase effor...
Effort is the experience that what you're currently doing is not worth it.
It's like computer time-sharing. The computer resources don't get used up, but they are limited. If you want to do something like running a major background process, like a backup or rendering o...
In the opportunity-cost framework of effort, when you get rewarded for an effortful activity, the experience of effort becomes less unpleasant, meaning we can increase our self-control by remembering that certain actions yield positive results.
If persistence in do...
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