Inhibitory spillover: increased urination urgency

Strange and intriguing stuff:

Psychol Sci. 2011 May 1;22(5):627-33. Epub 2011 Apr 5.

Inhibitory spillover: increased urination urgency facilitates impulse control in unrelated domains.

Tuk MA, Trampe D, Warlop L.


1Department of Marketing Communication and Consumer Psychology, University of Twente.


Visceral states are known to reduce the ability to exert self-control. In the current research, we investigated how self-control is affected by a visceral factor associated with inhibition rather than with approach: bladder control. We designed four studies to test the hypothesis that inhibitory signals are not domain-specific but can spill over to unrelated domains, resulting in increased impulse control in the behavioral domain. In Study 1, participants’ urination urgency correlated with performance on color-naming but not word-meaning trials of a Stroop task. In Studies 2 and 3, we found that higher levels of bladder pressure resulted in an increased ability to resist impulsive choices in monetary decision making. We found that inhibitory spillover effects are moderated by sensitivity of the Behavioral Inhibition System (Study 3) and can be induced by exogenous cues (Study 4). Implications for inhibition and impulse-control theories are discussed.

via Inhibitory spillover: increased urination urgency … [Psychol Sci. 2011] – PubMed result.


  1. Allen K. says:

    "I had once intended to write an entire novel while having to urinate very badly. I wanted to see how that need affected the style and tempo of my work. I had found, for instance, that when I'm writing about a character who's in a Ph.D. program and I don't have to urinate badly, I'll have him do a regular three- or four-year program. But if I'm writing a novel and I have to urinate very badly, then I'll push the character through an accelerated Ph.D. program in perhaps only two years, maybe even a year." — Mark Leyner, "Et tu, babe"