Employees crave emails and Twitter more than alcohol, cigarettes and sex, finds University of Chicago

David Woods , 03 Feb 2012


The addiction to read work emails or access social networking sites is stronger than cravings for cigarettes, alcohol and sex, according to a study by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

In the study of desire regulation, 205 adults wore devices that recorded a total of 7,827 reports about their daily desires. Desires for sleep and sex were the strongest, while desires for media and work proved the hardest to resist.

Even though tobacco and alcohol are thought of as addictive, desires associated with them were the weakest, according to the study. Surprisingly to the researchers, sleep and leisure were the most problematic desires, suggesting "pervasive tension between natural inclinations to rest and relax and the multitude of work and other obligations," said Wiklhelm Hofmann, assistant professor at Chigaco University and author of the report.

The study supported past research that the more frequently and recently people have resisted a desire, the less successful they will be at resisting any subsequent desire. Therefore as a day wears on, willpower becomes lower, and self-control efforts are more likely to fail, said Hofmann, who co-authored the paper with Roy Baumeister of Florida State University and Kathleen Vohs of the University of Minnesota.

The effects of willpower depletion explain why so many people have trouble resisting unhealthy food - the more they resist the food, the more they crave it.

Hofmann added: "Modern life is a welter of assorted desires marked by frequent conflict and resistance, the latter with uneven success."


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