8 Facts About Self-Control Reply

It takes self-control to stop bad habits like smoking.

It takes self-control to stop bad habits like smoking.

From Reflectd:  Psychological Insights & Perspectives

“… Overcoming the self’s natural, impulsive nature requires self-control … Without this capacity, we would be slaves of our emotional impulses, temptations, and desires and thus unable to behave socially adequately.” (pp. 128-132).

Self-control is delaying short-term gratification in favour of long-term outcomes. It is the investment of cognitive, emotional and behavioural resources to achieve a desired outcome

Self-control often involves resisting temptations and impulses, and habits often undermine self-control. Humans are relatively successful at exerting self-control to achieve long-term outcomes (Hagger et al., 2009).

However, people are better at exerting self-control when it comes to making decisions that are distant in time compared to near (Fujita, 2008). Eight facts about self-control are presented in this article.

1. Self-control is a limited resource

According to the self-control strength model, exerting self-control at one time or over one set of behaviours may deplete the ability to exhibit subsequent self-control over another set of behaviours. A study by Shmueli & Prochaska (2009) supports this idea.

In this study, smokers who resisted sweets were more likely to smoke a cigarette during a break compared to smokers who resisted raw vegetables. Participants, whose self-control strength was depleted (due to temptation resistance), were more likely to smoke compared to those who had not depleted their self-control strength.

A study by Vohs & Heatherton (2000) also supports the idea of a self-control strength model. The study draws three conclusions:

  • Perceived availability and proximity of tempting snacks undermined subsequent self-control among dieters
  • Exerting self-control in one domain leads to subsequent reductions in self-control in another domain
  • Asking dieters to suppress their emotional reactions to a movie depleted their self-control resources

Another study found that people’s ability to exert self-control and resist temptation decreases gradually throughout the day (Kouchaki & Smith, 2014). This finding also suggests that self-control is a limited resource.

Hagger and colleagues (2009) found that breaks in exerting control (since it is a limited resource) and training in self-control makes people better at exerting self-control.

Feature continues here:  Self-Control 

The Shared Brain Reply

Lauren F. Friedman, Psychology Today

Self-regulation once seemed to be a solo project. But “a new line of research is showing how the brain “outsources” regulatory tasks to others,” explains Mario Mikulincer, editor of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. To conserve brain resources for tasks like learning, people may lean on close partners, offloading some of the burden of controlling impulses and emotions. An individual may not be able to calm himself, but if a partner can calm him, the end result is similar.