Research Questions

1. What is the nature of willpower?

2. Is the nature of willpower the same for everyone?

3. What factors play a role in willpower?

4. How can willpower be more understood and improved?


Connie Hwang, SJSU Graphic Design Professor
Primary Advisor

Ron Catacutan, UX Designer
Secondary Advisor

Julio Martinez, SJSU Graphic Design Lecturer
Tertiary Advisor


An act of self-control is an act of denying gratification in order to achieve a greater goal. One would deny the temptations of staying in bed in order to go to the gym, say no to smoking a cigarette and end an addiction, or go on our phones instead of doing our homework. Though the right choice seems clear, why is the decision still hard to make? The mental resource that is used to deny temptations is called willpower, and this concept has been heavily debated amongst psychologists. There has been decades of research that argues willpower is a finite resource and can be depleted and weakened.

The same research believes that willpower can be strengthened over time through exertion, similar to how a muscle functions. It is a complex concept that is still somewhat of a mystery to us.

A clearer understanding of willpower will lead to better self-control. I intend to uncover the nature of willpower and examine the internal and external factors that play a role in our willpower and decision making.

For the Strong-Willed

Will to Win is a game and 4-week program designed for the strong-willed and those that want to be. It is the experience of willpower translated and focused.

Everyone’s willpower is different. As many psychologists continue to unravel the secrets of willpower, Will to Win takes what is already known and pushes those who are willing to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses and make themselves better.

Will to Win is a game and 4-week program designed for the strong-willed and those that want to be. It is the experience of willpower translated and focused.

Why Willpower?

Ever since I was in high school, I have always wanted to be a master of my own habits. The concept of willpower has always been something that I was interested in. I’m not saying I was a master at it. I was horrible at controlling my impulses. In fact, I am an extremely lazy person. It is the reason why I was always so interested in it. There were so many things I wanted to achieve: exercise frequently, read books, be on top of my studies, pray, write, have a clean room, have a clean car, save money, eat healthy, get out of bed right away in the morning—the list goes on. To this day, I have failed to do any of these things consistently. I was able to get some momentum for maybe a few months, but I would always blame the lack of time and energy at the end of the day.

That seemed a little odd to me. How come other people seem to have an easier time than me? Three years after graduating high school, all of my friends gained so much muscle mass—that was a long time desire. And there I was, not sad at the fact that they looked better than me, but confused as to how they were able to consistently exercise while I wasn’t. Did they have more time than me? Is there some magic pill they took? Five years later, and I am still at it. I took this opportunity to figure out why willpower is such a difficult thing to master in order to hopefully figure things out for myself and for others who are in my position.



Psychologists believed that there are two qualities in order to have a successful future: intelligence and self-control. While they believed one’s intelligence could not be improved, perhaps self-control can be. This led to decades of conducting research and experiments in order to better understand willpower and self-control. As psychologists continue to debate on the nature of willpower, I decided instead of trying to prove something, I want to help people navigate through something that is already confusing.


I worked on this project aware of the fact that this will not solve people’s problems. Though the final outcome forces people to play a game of willpower for 4 weeks, the true lesson extends for a lifetime. I can only hope that it provides a self-reflection of what people want, what they can do, and if they want more.

  2020 timeiswhatyoumakeofit