I. What is self control?
Self control is the ability to control one's emotions, behaviour and desires. In psychology it is sometimes called self-regulation. Exerting self-control through the executive functions in decision making is thought to deplete a resource in the ego. Many things affect one's ability to exert self-control, but self-control particularly requires sufficient glucose levels in the brain. Exerting self-control depletes glucose. Research has found that reduced glucose, and poor glucose tolerance (reduced ability to transport glucose to the brain) are tied to lower performance in tests of self-control, particularly in difficult new situations.
In Behavior Analysis
Another view is that self-control represents the locus of two conflicting contingencies of reinforcement, which then make a controlling response reinforcing when it causes changes in the controlled response. Self-control is directly related to the pressure you face.
* Good Pressure: When you are in a competitive yet non-judgemental and non-prejudicial environment, you want to be like those around you. You become motivated and inspired and gain self-control. * Bad Pressure: When you are in a judgemental and prejudicial environment and there is no competition you become depressed and unmotivated. You lose self-control. * No Pressure: When you are free and there is no competition, you do what you feel. Your self-control is based on how you feel and since there is no one to compare yourself to, you may be less * motivated or more motivated depending on the urgency of whatever you are doing. *
Human and non-human self-control
Human self-control research is typically modeled by using a token economy system in which human participants choose between tokens for one choice and using obtained for humans and non-humans, with the latter appearing to maximize their overall reinforcement despite delays, with the former being sensitive to changes in delay. The difference in research methodologies with humans - using tokens or conditioned reinforcers - and non-humans using sub-primary reinforcers suggested procedural artifacts as a possible suspect. One aspect of these procedural differences was the delay to the exchange period (Hyten et al. 1994). Non-human subjects can, and would, access their reinforcement immediately. The human subjects had to wait for an "exchange period" in which they could exchange their tokens for money, usually at the end of the experiment. When this was done with pigeons they responded much like humans in that males have less control than females (Jackson & Hackenberg 1996). However, Logue, (1995), who is discussed more below, points out that in her study done on self-control it was male children who responded with less self control than female children. She then states, that in adulthood, for the most part, the sexes equalize on their ability to exhibit self control. This could suggest a human being's ability to exert more self control as they mature and become more aware of the consequences associated with impulsivity. This suggestion is further examined below. Most of the research in the field of self control assumes that self control is in general better than impulsiveness. Some developmental psychologists argue that this is normal, and people age from infants, who have no ability to think of the future, and hence no self control or delayed gratification, to adults. As a result almost all research done on this topic is from this standpoint and very rarely is impulsiveness the more adaptive response in experimental design. More recently some in the field of developmental psychology have begun to think of self control in a more complicated way that takes into account that sometimes impulsiveness is the more adaptive response. In their view, a normal individual should...
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