What’s more addicting than alcohol, tobacco, and coffee? Apparently, your desire to check social networks and to stay employed trumps all else, including urges to sleep and have sex.
People’s daily desires make it harder to resist the urge to check social networks like Facebook and Twitter for updates than to turn down an alcoholic drink or a cigarette. Sleep and sex were the two things people most longed for during the day, but the urges to keep on top of social networks and work were the hardest to resist.
Researchers from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business fitted 205 participants between the ages of 18 and 85 with BlackBerry devices in and around the German city of Würtzburg. Seven times a day over 14 hours for seven consecutive days, the participants were asked to message whether they were experiencing a desire at that moment or had experienced one within the last 30 minutes, what type it was, the strength of it, whether it conflicted with other desires, and whether they resisted or went along with it. 10,558 responses and 7,827 “desire episodes” were reported.
Alcohol, tobacco, and coffee prompted much lower levels of desire despite their addictive properties. Furthermore, people were relatively successful at resisting sports inclinations, sexual urges, and spending impulses. Resisting the desire to work (when it conflicts with other goals such as socialising or leisure activities), which was the hardest along with checking social networks, may be difficult because your job defines your identity, dictates many aspects of your life, and invokes penalties if important duties are not completed.