In recent years, psychology has experienced an explosion of interest in the topic of willpower or self-control. Numerous empirical studies show that human beings have a capacity for self-control, that this capacity is linked to the brain, that willpower can be strengthened, and that new insights are available that can help us to overcome bad habits and achieve our goals in life. Students will be challenged to understand this research and apply it to their lives. But is willpower really “the greatest human strength” as some researchers contend? To answer this question, we will grapple with the deep historical connections between this new psychology of willpower and the traditional Christian idea of “will.” In the process, students will engage several foundational issues, such as the construction of psychological language, the role of metaphor in psychology, and the nature of “free will.”
Prerequisites: Year 4 standing in an honours or general psychology major or permission of the instructor

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