DUCKWORTH: I shouldn’t have done that.
* * *
DUCKWORTH: I’m Angela Duckworth.
DUBNER: I’m Stephen Dubner.
DUCKWORTH + DUBNER: And you’re listening to No Stupid Questions.
Today on the show: What happens when super disciplined people lose their self-control?
DUBNER: There are a lot of things that you would not do for a hundred dollars that you might consider for a billion dollars.
* * *
DUBNER: Angela, I know that you are working on a new book, and one question that you’re trying to answer within that book intrigues me greatly. The question is something like: why do some people with extraordinarily high levels of self-control in certain areas of their life totally blow it in other areas? And a couple examples I know you use are Eliot Spitzer and Tiger Woods. So, I want to know the answer to that question. I guess what I’m asking for is a preview of the book that you’re only now writing, but how can you explain that? And what does it mean for the rest of us?
DUCKWORTH: You’re right, Stephen. I’m fascinated — and have been for a long time — about how variable our self-control is across different situations. You know, I remember when the editor and literary agent convinced me to write Grit. I said to them, “I mostly study self-control.” Look at my CV. Most of these papers are about people choosing to do things that are good for their future self — meaning their self, like, 10, 15, 20 minutes from now — versus something that’s going to be gratifying to their present self. And that is not exactly the same thing as grit, which is having passion for a goal that’s relevant to your identity and overcoming setbacks. I mean, they’re related, but these are not exactly the same thing. Anyway, to make a long story short, I didn’t write a book about self-control in 2016, but I do want to write one now, and I think the question of, like, how is it that we can do things that we recognize clearly are better for ourselves, for other people and resist things that just feel a little bit better, like, right now. That’s the topic of the book.
DUBNER: I think it’s a great, great, great topic.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you, Stephen. I had a graduate student named Eli Tsukayama, who’s now professor, University of Hawaii. And he and I were working on self-control as it varies across domains — you know, as it famously did for Tiger Woods, being very self-disciplined about his training, not so self-controlled in the domain of lust. And then, you know, the same for Governor Spitzer. There are stories in the newspaper about people who are, like, super self-controlled in one domain, but really impulsive, getting in a lot of trouble, in, in others. But look, we can recognize that in ourselves. So Eli, my then graduate student, and I came up with these questions that we asked people about behaviors that required self-control. We eventually realized that these questions that we came up with — we also had focus groups and asked, like, you know, “Tell us about things that you know, in your life, or in other people’s lives, require a lot of self-control and that sometimes we do the wrong thing.” We realized that these were essentially, like, the seven deadly sins. We used to joke that this was the seven-deadly-sins scale. Wait. What is the — the history of the seven deadly sins, which I know little bit about, it’s Catholic, yes?
DUBNER: It is. But I mean, you know, if you look at them, they’re quite similar to the 10 Commandments, for instance. I mean, yeah, the Catholic Church, I think, did a lot of work on, let’s say, “refining” the seven deadly sins, and weren’t there corresponding virtues too?
DUCKWORTH: Yeah, like, the seven cardinal virtues.
DUBNER: So, wait, so you’re saying that you and your colleague —.
DUCKWORTH: Yes. My then-student, Eli — we were interested in how much people varied in self-control across different domains of life. So, we had sloth, which is one of the seven deadly sins, but there are two kinds of sloth that we were looking at. We were looking at sloth for professional work or academic work, and then sloth for exercise. Roughly speaking, like, mental sloth and physical sloth.
DUBNER: And we should say, “sloth,” not to disparage the animal of the same name, which is a cute animal.
DUCKWORTH: The slowest animal in the world, right? Isn’t that the slowest animal in the world?
DUBNER: I think that’s something Disney invented.
DUCKWORTH: Did you not read the Guinness Book of World Records when you were, like, 10?
DUBNER: I did read it. I wanted to be in it. In fact, I never told you the story of me almost being in the Guinness Book of World Records, but it’s too heartbreaking a story to tell.
DUCKWORTH: Okay. you have to tell me now. Go ahead.
DUBNER: No. No. No.
DUCKWORTH: Come on.
DUBNER: A friend of mine and I — it was actually a very good friend of mine. His older sister and I got together somehow to make a chewing-gum wrapper chain.
DUCKWORTH: Oh, like, the longest one in the world? Like, you fold it a certain way. It’s like a little zigzag.
DUBNER: It’s like a very primitive origami. And I don’t know how we got going on this, but it got longer and longer. And then, kids at school would hear about it, and they would all give us their wrappers, and it became this community project and we would just fold, and fold, and fold, and stitch, and stitch, and stitch.
DUCKWORTH: How long was it?
DUBNER: It was hundreds and hundreds of feet long. And if I recall correctly, we wrote to the Guinness Book of World Records and said, “Okay, you guys come measure our thing.”
DUCKWORTH: Like, the official Guinness inspectors.
DUBNER: Yeah. We did get a letter back that said, “Yeah, we don’t do this kind of stuff. This is just kind of schlocky.”
DUCKWORTH: Oh, you weren’t trying to beat a certain record. You were trying to be, like, the inaugural —.
DUBNER: I guess that was our first mistake, we didn’t really read the rule book. So anyway, I did read the Guinness Book of Records, but not carefully enough.
DUCKWORTH: The three-toed sloth didn’t need to, like, enter its own entry. I believe that some ethologist pointed out that the three-toed sloth, I think, I’m pretty sure, is the slowest animal in the world. But anyway, sloth is one of the scales, because we have sloth for work, sloth for exercise. We have wrath, or if you would prefer, anger.
DUBNER: Do you have one of those for professional anger and personal anger as well?
DUCKWORTH: No, we just had one wrath.
DUCKWORTH: You could absolutely argue that, like, you could splinter these into, like, even sub-domains, if you will.
DUBNER: All I’m saying is that things that make me angry in a work environment are totally different from the ones that make me angry in a personal environment.
DUCKWORTH: Completely. And I think that’s, you know, one of the through lines of this research. When you just start to reflect on how different you are in anything across situations, it’s kind of a — you know, a marvel to behold. So anyway, we have one wrath scale. We, um, you’ll be pleased to know, have three gluttony scales, because there’s so many ways to be gluttonous in the modern world. So, there’s gluttony for food. There’s also gluttony for drugs and alcohol. And the third gluttony is impulse shopping, essentially. It’s, like, spending more money than I’d planned.
DUBNER: Why would that kind of consumption not be some other lack of self-control? Why is that gluttony, exactly?
DUCKWORTH: Yeah. So, you could argue, I don’t know, would that be? Greed? I don’t know what other sin you want to put it under.
DUBNER: I don’t mean to challenge. Just very curious. I love your scale. Okay, so wait, three gluttonies: food, then drugs and alcohol, and then over-consumption?
DUCKWORTH: That’s right. Yeah. So, now we’re on envy.
DUBNER: I wish I’d thought of that one. I’m so jealous.
DUCKWORTH: This has items like treating others poorly because they have things I want, putting down others to make myself feel better.
DUBNER: Oh, so that’s a whole other level of envy.
DUCKWORTH: Those are just two items, but yeah. We wanted to get things that were, like, pretty behavioral, so not just having thoughts.
DUBNER: You guys are good. You should work at a university or something. Okay. Keep going.
DUCKWORTH: Um, okay. Lust.
DUBNER: Jimmy Carter, here we come.
DUCKWORTH: What was the Jimmy Carter quote?
DUBNER: Jimmy Carter. We need to do a whole series on Jimmy Carter someday, because he was such a — he is such an interesting human.
DUCKWORTH: Is he still alive? He must be like a hundred years old.
DUBNER: If I had to guess, I’d say he is about 96-ish. I just remember the headline really now, but at the time it was a big deal, because he was a very well-behaved gentleman, but he admitted that he had, quote, “lusted in my heart” in the past. My recollection is that he was making a sort of philosophical or, you know, theological point, which is, “This is what humans are. We have natural impulses. What makes us better humans is having self-control.”
DUCKWORTH: So interestingly, I don’t know whether enacting the things on this lust subscale are so bad, honestly. But as I said, this came out of focus groups, and we also looked at other scales that have been used. So, on the lust subscale are things that, again, I don’t think were so bad: masturbating, watching porn, engaging in casual sex, having a one-night stand. But we’ll move on. Two more, right?
DUBNER: There should be two more.
DUCKWORTH: Okay, so greed — taking more than my fair share, behaving selfishly, being self-centered. And then last but not least, pride, which is, you know, bragging, showing off, exaggerating your abilities and accomplishments, acting over-competent, cocky. So, all of these quote-unquote “sins” — that’s a pretty archaic term — but all of these impulses that are on our scale have the feature that there’s some gratification “right now,” and your long-term self, your future self, is going to pay the price.
DUBNER: And that is why they all fit under the umbrella of self-regulation or self-control, correct?
DUCKWORTH: Yeah. And it’s not even a complete list. You could keep going. Like, there are other things that people do that are fun, slash, enjoyable, slash, somehow compelling right now, but 10 years from now, 10 days from now, 10 minutes from now, “Mm, I regret that. I shouldn’t have done that.” Sometimes it’s called the “want/should conflict.” There’s what you want to do in the moment, and there’s what your future self knows you should do for the benefit of you, because pretty soon you’re going to be your future self.
DUBNER: The thing that’s tricky in the kind of research that you and your peers do, is that it is just so hard to get to the truth.
DUCKWORTH: Because of self-report. Like, somebody says go to the gym, and they don’t.
DUBNER: But even because of a lot of the experiments that you run. So, I think back to, and I may have told this story before, so forgive me if I have, but I think back to the long history of researchers, psychologists, and economists, running ultimatum and dictator games. These are different lab experiments where you might be given an envelope with a little bit of money and be told that, “Oh, there’s someone else down the hall, just like you, but they’re not getting an envelope of money. Would you like to share some of yours with them? They won’t actually see you, so you won’t be appreciated for it. There’s no reciprocity involved. You’re not going to get some money from this other person,” and so on. “But would you like to give some?” And on balance, people would give, usually in the neighborhood, maybe 20 or 30 percent. And from that long line of research run by very brilliant people at the best universities in the world, there came to be a consensus in literature that, hey, altruism is a strong natural impulse.
And then, along came later researchers, most prominently John List at the University of Chicago, who had done a lot of field experiments and had done a lot of observation of real-world behavior and said, “I’m not so sure that truly represents altruism. I wonder if it might represent something else like scrutiny.” In other words, people want to appear to behave altruistic under the scrutiny of, let’s say, a professor or a researcher. That’s the argument that he made and, in his mind, overturned the earlier thinking about altruism. And the idea would be that if you followed this same, let’s say, college student who in a lab would give three of his or her 10 dollars to some other imaginary person, and you follow them out of the lab, for the next couple hours, would they do something potentially that was extremely un-altruistic? And I think we all know that the answer to that could quite easily be a resounding yes. So, given that we behave so differently under scrutiny, given that we behave differently in public versus private, how confident are you in your ability to gather data that reflects real human behavior?
DUCKWORTH: Well, the questionnaire that Eli and I developed is a self-report questionnaire. You could 100 percent fake all of your responses. But, you know, under most of the research study circumstances that Eli and I contrived, it’s confidential, if not anonymous. Also, in some situations, we give people their own feedback. Like, do you want to see what your scores are? Now, there the motive to seem to be the kind of person who goes to the gym all the time and who never loses their temper, et cetera, you could argue they still have some of that, but minimal. So yes, it’s a self-report questionnaire and has some limitations, just like other measures that scientists use. And it has been argued that some of those games are just so bizarrely unlike anything that anyone ever has to do, that they lack what’s called “ecological validity.” Like, they’re just not like life, and they tend not to correlate that highly with personality measures and so forth. B
ut I want to tell you about a study that was done a hundred years ago that actually doesn’t have any of these particular flaws — you could argue it had others — but I think it makes, convincingly, the same point. And the point is that we can be very different in terms of our level of self-control as we move from one situation to the other. So, this is a study done by Hartshorne and May. At the time it was just this, like, ridiculously ambitious study that these two professors who were at Yale did to understand character in children. And they had a lot of questions, but one of them was: how consistent is a child’s honesty across different situations in life? How self-controlled are they across different domains of life? They also looked at generosity. They had enough grit, enough grant money, enough research assistance, to contrive something like three dozen different tasks — or different contrived situations. So, let’s focus on self-control, because that’s what we’re talking about right now. The finding from these research studies that they did was that kids are super. And these two professors — maybe not surprisingly, given the time — were very devout Christians. They were not looking for inconsistency, they were looking for consistency.
DUBNER: So, they thought a person with, quote, “good character” — if they behave in a certain way in a professional setting, they will behave the same way in a personal setting.
DUCKWORTH: That’s right. The whole idea of character is consistency, really.
DUBNER: Is that the whole idea of character?
DUCKWORTH: Well, “character” comes, I think, from the Greek for, like, the mold or the press that you would make currency out of.
DUBNER: So, it’s supposed to be the same.
DUCKWORTH: And I think often when we say, like, somebody is of “good character,” we are at least implying that you can depend on them to be the same honest, good person, you know, wherever they go. So, they were thinking that, you know, if I’m self-controlled when it comes to procrastinating, shouldn’t I be self-controlled when it comes to, like, controlling my temper, for example? But this, like, astounding variation that they found across situations was not through self-report questionnaires. It was through behavioral observations across these very structured settings that they had devised. And I think if you just say, “Look, everything has its problem, but when all of the data from very different methods is saying people are different across situations, it begins to look like people are really different across situations.” And I think that’s what is true, Stephen. I really do.
Still to come on No Stupid Questions: Angela shares which of the seven deadly sins she struggles with the most.
DUBNER: Note to self, become no closer to Angela.
DUCKWORTH: Move away. Far away.
* * *
Now, back to Stephen and Angela’s conversation about self-control and the seven deadly sins.
DUBNER: Can I just say, Hartshorne and May — I have a feeling that if they were to show up in an economics department, even 100 years ago, but especially 50 years ago, they would just be laughed at. Like, the whole notion that circumstance doesn’t dictate behavior. I think economists, but many of us, would feel really naive.
DUCKWORTH: Right. Because economists would say, like, “Of course the incentives are different across situations.”
DUBNER: And I think this is where economics is often misunderstood, is when economists use the word “incentive,” I think a lot of people think about financial incentives.
DUCKWORTH: Right. They think about money.
DUBNER: And, you know, look, money is important, but it’s also very, very scalable. Like, there are a lot of things that you would not do for a hundred dollars that you might consider for a billion dollars. So, the amount matters, but there are all these other things: self-regard, our relationships, and so on.
DUCKWORTH: Those are all incentives. Of course we respond to the situation, right? There must be incentives and disincentives in these situations that would explain a child’s variability. Like, people are trying to maximize gains and reduce punishments. And let me say what Eli and I found about these seven deadly sins — these different domains of life — and to actually link it back to incentives of a kind. So, we first of all documented that people are pretty different across domains. How different? There was, at least as much — actually in our study, much more — variation within a person across different domains of life than there were between people. In other words, when we think of character, we think of personality. We think of how people are different from each other, but we can be different from ourselves as we move from one situation in life to another.
DUBNER: Can I say, I find that not surprising, personally.
DUCKWORTH: See, I find it really surprising, but to you, it’s just totally intuitive that like, Stephen, you know, losing his temper in one situation would never lose his temper in another. Is that what you’re saying?
DUBNER: I don’t know if I would say it’s totally intuitive. I think it’s something that I’ve learned over time. I’ve always felt that the person who is consistent across circumstances — I value the consistency of that character. But I’ve found that there are very few people who are like that. Even just the way people will have a conversation, you know, someone will really feel compelled to sound impressive among a certain group of people. Then, we’ll get amongst a different group of people, and they can be — they’re a little bit more down to earth or whatnot. How do you judge that? Is that hypocrisy? Is it low character? Is it just a weird hobgoblin of inconsistency? It’s hard to say. I always have thought it was admirable to be consistent, but I’ve just seen very few people have that consistency.
DUCKWORTH: Well, Hartshorne and May ended their three-year study not by saying, like, “Well, guess character doesn’t matter!” Their conclusion is not that we shouldn’t care about being consistent, but just to point out how hard it is to be consistent. And I think understanding that you are inconsistent is the first step. Like, I am very low on sloth for either physical or mental work. I don’t procrastinate. I don’t feel like I avoid physical activity. But when I look at my own scores, I’m pretty darn impulsive when it comes to wrath. That itself varies across domains because, for me, I’m much more likely to lose my temper around Jason in particular. But just the closer you are to me, the more likely I am to lose my temper. I don’t really lose my temper with, like, colleagues.
DUBNER: Note to self, become no closer to Angela.
DUCKWORTH: Move away. Far away. And also — you know, I’m embarrassed to say this — but pride. When I had to, like, ask myself these items. Like, do I show off? Do I attract attention to myself? Do I sometimes exaggerate my abilities and accomplishments? Do I act overconfident and cocky? Do I brag? I was like, “Yeah, I do.”
DUBNER: But the fact that you’re admitting right here that you were prideful — this is the ultimate humble brag. You are so self-aware.
DUCKWORTH: No, but really this is not a — this is not a good look! And I want to tie this back to incentives. When we tried to figure out why it is, for example, that for me, you know, low in sloth, but wow, high in pride and wrath — why? Do I not think it’s important to control my temper? Is it about how much I value enacting virtue in that domain? Or is it that I’m just tempted more? In other words, is it that I don’t care about certain domains, or is it that the strength of the impulse is just very high? So, the finding is that people are pretty much in agreement about how harmful these things are. They’re like, “Yeah, I shouldn’t procrastinate. Yeah, it’s bad to yell at other people. Yeah, it’s not good to, like, eat food that’s not good for you, et cetera.” And the real source of variation, not only across people, but within people, is the strength of the impulse. I think it was Oscar Wilde who said, “I can resist everything except temptation,” right? That’s what differs. So, if you get back to Tiger Woods and you get back to Eliot Spitzer, did they not care about infidelity?
DUBNER: No, they did not not care, but they were so tempted.
DUCKWORTH: It was the temptation. It was the incentives for them. So, the benefits to them — to their present self — were so high.
DUBNER: Can I just say, I feel like this conversation we’ve had today is only the beginning.
DUCKWORTH: I agree, Stephen, and, you know, the idea of seven deadly sins of course goes back a long time. But wow, we are living in an era where we are constantly, I think, at war with ourselves about what’s good for us now versus what’s good for us later. There’s plenty of want/should conflict to go around in modern times, and I wonder if we should do something we haven’t done before on No Stupid Questions, which is instead of just a random question, what if we had “seven deadly sins” as a theme.
DUBNER: Oh, a series. I love a series!
DUCKWORTH: And listeners could say, like, “Oh, on the topic of gluttony, I have this question. On the topic of lust —.”
DUBNER: This is a good idea. Yes. Let’s do it.
DUCKWORTH: And can I ask for more, now that I’ve already asked for seven conversations? I, personally, having worked on this scale for some years, have come to think that lust really is an archaic sin. So, we should talk about it —.
DUBNER: I’m not doing this if we don’t do lust. I want to spend time thinking about Jimmy Carter and whoever else he was lusting after.
DUCKWORTH: I’m not getting rid of it. I’m just saying that if any listener out there has a nomination for a substitute, I’m eager to hear that.
DUBNER: How about we make it eight deadly sins? How about we keep lust —.
DUCKWORTH: We’re losing the alliteration, but we’re gaining something. That’s fine. Let’s take nominations for an eighth deadly sin.
DUBNER: So, we’re asking a lot of our listeners here. Let’s break it down into two specific things. How about we ask, by email, to nominate an eighth sin? Because that’ll be easy for us to keep track of. But then, here’s what we also want. We want nominees for questions around these subjects of the seven deadly sins. This could be by email or voice memo. Just use your phone to make a voice memo. Send it to us at email@example.com. And why don’t we peel off the first, let’s say, three right now, and request voice memos. What order do you want to do them in, Angela?
DUCKWORTH: You say, Stephen.
DUBNER: Let’s do sloth, and gluttony, and lust. How about those three? We’ll start with pretty juicy ones. Okay. So, if you have a question that you want Angela and I to discuss in an upcoming episode in a special series on the seven deadly sins plus one, which you are also nominating separately in an email, send that all to us. And the first three episodes we’ll make are about gluttony, sloth, and lust. Does that sound about right?
DUBNER: So, let me recap a little bit. First of all, I’m glad you’re writing your book.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you.
DUBNER: I am really glad that you were willing to discuss some of the material in a book that’s underway, because that can be a tricky thing as a writer. Sometimes you just want to wall that off. And I’m really, really glad that you had this idea to do a series on the seven plus one deadly sins. So, well done Angela Duckworth.
DUCKWORTH: Stephen, I hate to brag, but yeah, that’s a really good idea.
No Stupid Questions is produced by me, Rebecca Lee Douglas. And now, here is a fact-check of today’s conversation.
In the first half of the show, Angela insists that the three-toed sloth is the slowest animal in the world, and Stephen doesn’t believe her. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the sloth is indeed the slowest mammal. On the ground, three-toed sloths travel at a speed of six to eight feet per minute. But they move at lightning speeds compared to sessile animals like coral, which have no means of self-locomotion at all.
Also, Stephen laments that, as a child, Guinness refused to acknowledge his impressive gum-wrapper chain. They may not have been interested in that sort of thing when Stephen was growing up, but that’s changed. In January 2020, Guinness World Records awarded Gary Duschl of Virginia Beach the record for “longest gum-wrapper chain.” Duschl’s Duschl chain was 106,810 feet long. He began constructing it in 1965 — a little over a decade before Stephen and his friend began chaining their own wrappers. Sorry, Stephen!
Later, Stephen guesses that former president Jimmy Carter is about 96 years old. Carter is 98.
Finally, Angela says that the word “character” comes from the Greek term for the mold or press that currency was made out of. The word does indeed originate in Ancient Greece, but according to the Oxford English Dictionary, its original meaning was a “stamp, impress, or distinctive mark.”
That’s it for the fact-check.
Before we wrap today’s show, let’s hear some of your thoughts on our recent episode on cheating. Here’s what you said:
Brianna HAYES: Hi, Stephen. Hi, Angela. My name is Brianna, and I very rarely lie. But during my junior year of college, a perfect storm of circumstances led me to believe that lying was my best option. My sorority’s annual formal was approaching, and all members have to meet a minimum G.P.A. for the semester to qualify to attend. I had unfortunately experienced a quarter-life crisis this term, which resulted in a whopping 0.0 semester G.P.A. for me. But I had already invited a date and bought the dress. So, what to do? I opened up Microsoft Paint, altered my grades to exceed the minimum requirement, and sent them in. What I didn’t know is the university provides the chapter with our transcripts as well. So, I was promptly scheduled for a meeting with our standards board. I know now that I should have expressed remorse for my lapse in judgment. But at the time, it felt appropriate to open a discussion of the definition of ethics, utilitarianism, and the greater good. For that, though, this was my first and only offense, I was not allowed to attend formal, and the Sorority Standards Board chose to place me on national probation — essentially kicking me out. So, what self-awareness have I gained? One, own up to your mistakes. And two, if I ever get into legal trouble, boy, oh, boy, should I not speak for myself.
Helen STRATTON: Hi, Team NSQ. This is Helen. I’m calling from London. I wanted to let you know that I am notorious for cheating at rounders. Rounders is a British game. I suppose it’s a bit like baseball. I don’t play any other sport, but, like, in the summertime, at a party, if people play rounders, you know what? I get nasty. If somebody is on a base, and they want to sort of tag me out, I will push them over. I have clawed somebody and drawn blood. I mean, I didn’t actually mean to go that far, but I have no regrets. I would say that’s relatively harmless, because it’s just a game in fun. But I think my old colleague Jacob, who I scratched, might disagree. Hope you’re all good. Bye.
That was, respectively: Brianna Hayes and Helen Stratton. Thanks so much to them and to everyone who sent us their thoughts. And remember, we need your help with our new series devoted to the seven deadly sins. Please nominate an eighth sin via email. And send us emails or voice memos with questions related to sloth, lust, and gluttony. You can send everything to NSQ@Freakonomics.com. Let us know your name and if you’d like to remain anonymous. We might use your words on the show!
Coming up next week on No Stupid Questions: Stephen and Angela discuss the behavioral science behind crying.
DUBNER The last time I cried was when I was a baby.
That’s next week on No Stupid Questions.
No Stupid Questions is part of the Freakonomics Radio Network, which also includes Freakonomics Radio, People I (Mostly) Admire, and Freakonomics, M.D. All our shows are produced by Stitcher and Renbud Radio. This episode was mixed by Eleanor Osborne, with help from Jeremy Johnston. Katherine Moncure is our associate producer. Our executive team is Neal Carruth, Gabriel Roth, and Stephen Dubner. Our theme song is “And She Was” by Talking Heads — special thanks to David Byrne and Warner Chappell Music. If you’d like to listen to the show ad-free, subscribe to Stitcher Premium. You can follow us on Twitter @NSQ_Show and on Facebook @NSQShow. If you have a question for a future episode, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more, or to read episode transcripts, visit Freakonomics.com/NSQ. Thanks for listening!
DUBNER: Nobody’s named Eliot, except Eliot Spitzer.
DUCKWORTH: No. A lot of people are named Eliot.
DUBNER: Nah. There’s only one Eliot.
DUCKWORTH: I have a cousin named Elliot.
DUBNER: Ah, that’s not real.
- “How the Seven Deadly Sins Began as ‘Eight Evil Thoughts,'” by Becky Little (History, 2021).
- “Longest Gum Wrapper Chain,” (Guinness World Records, 2020).
- “Life in the Slow Lane: Three Amazing Sloth Records,” by Adam Millward (Guinness World Records, 2018).
- “Chapter 18: Domain Specificity in Self-Control,” by Angela Lee Duckworth and Eli Tsukayama (Character: New Directions from Philosophy, Psychology, and Theology, 2015).
- “Want-Should Conflict: A Synthesis of Past Research,” by T. Bradford Bitterly, Robert Mislavsky, Hengchen Dai, and Katherine L. Milkman (The Psychology of Desire, 2015).
- “Resisting Everything Except Temptation: Evidence and an Explanation for Domain-Specific Impulsivity,” by Eli Tsukayama (European Journal of Personality, 2012).
- “What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal about the Real World?” by Steven D. Levitt and John A. List (The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2007).
- “Carter’s Comments on Sex Cause Concern,” by Lee Dembart (The New York Times, 1976).
- “A Summary of the Work of the Character Education Inquiry,” by Hugh Hartshorne and Mark A. May (Religious Education, 1930).