Psychology of Willpower and Motivation

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This course is under review for 2021. Course registration will open to accepted students once courses are confirmed.

Course Description

Are you a procrastinator? Have you ever struggled with temptation or to stay motivated to do something? If so, you're not alone! Most people find it tough to make the "right" choice or to follow through with their goals even when they know they should. When success doesn't come, it is easy to feel hopeless and to think "I HAVE NO WILLPOWER!"

But what if what we think about willpower is wrong? Misconceptions about willpower and self-control can get in the way of achieving goals like saving money, getting good grades, exercising, or breaking bad habits.

This course will provide an overview of the science of willpower, what it is, and how it works. We will discuss psychological research on self-control, motivation, and willpower. Students will learn about how biology, psychology, and social and environmental factors influence self-control. They will learn about why people often fail at self-control and the role an environment full of temptations and distractions can play.

This course will be interactive, discussion-based, and will include information that students can apply to their everyday life. Students will become psychological scientists and take part in their own real-world study of willpower by choosing a willpower challenge from their own life to monitor during the course. As students learn about different strategies that have been shown to help with motivation and self-control, they will be asked to conduct willpower experiments by testing these strategies and reporting what worked the best for them.

After taking this course, students will be able to describe what willpower really is, how it works, and why it fails. They will be able to explain several evidence-based strategies to improve self-control and how to apply these strategies when they want to make changes and accomplish their goals.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for this course, but a strong interest or some background in the subject material is expected.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEPY0959
  • Length: 2 weeks

Program Information

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Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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