White Marshmallows by John Morgan - http://www.flickr.com/photos/24742305@N00/2256639109. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
5 Ways to Easily Increase Self-Control Eric Barker in his Barking Up the Wrong Tree blog of January 23, 2012, presents this list of things you can do to increase your self-control based on the latest empirical data.
7 Ways You Can Easily Increase Your Willpower Eric Barker of the Barking Up The Wrong Tree blog presents these 7 evidence-based ways of increasing your willpower in your daily life. July 20, 2014.
10 Things You Should Know About Goals Your brain is a goal-setting machine, and research is illuminating why according to this article in Psychology Today, October 22, 2013.
19 Reasons Why Willpower Fails You, And What To Do About It David DiSalvo, writing for Psychology Today, describe 19 science-based reason why will and will alone isn't enough and what we can do about it.
Already Struggling to Keep New Year Resolutions? Here's the First Detailed Study of Daily Temptation and Resistance Research by Wilhelm Hoffman and his colleagues suggests that 'desire is a common, recurrent theme in the daily lives of modern citizens ... everyday life may be an ongoing drama in which inner factors set the stage for motivation and conflict, while external factors contribute to how well people manage to resist and enact their current wants and longings." Read the summary here in BPS Research Digest, January 3, 2012, or the original in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.''
Believing Self-Control Predicts Success, Schools Teach Coping In one DC school, The boot-camp expectations, the behavioral charts, the pinnies, all point to a calculated attempt to teach students self-discipline, focus, accountability — ultimately, self-control. Schools across the country are responding to a growing body of research that suggests a definitive and disturbing link between low levels of self-control in childhood and serious problems later in life according to this article from The Washington Post, April 11, 2013.
The Good Habit Which Boosts Self-Control Research by Pilcher et al. (2015) and published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience finds that good sleep habits like going to bed at the same time every night, can boost attention, improve decision-making, and strengthen the ability to resist impulses. From PsyBlog, July 10, 2015.
How To Go From Dreaming To Doing: 4 Steps To Motivation Eric Barker, writing for his Barking up the Wrong Tree blog describes the work of Gabriele Oettingen on the WOOP method to maintain motivation. According to Oettingen’s research, people who focus on Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, and Plan achieve their goals better than people without this strategy. Posted October 5, 2014.
How to Increase Willpower: Extended Interview with Roy Baumeister Eric Barker, of the Barking Up the Wrong Tree blog presents this interview with Roy Baumeister, author of Willpower: Rediscovering The Greatest Human Strength, June 25, 2013.
The Merest Thought of Money Replenishes Self-Control A brief summary of the work by Boucher and Kofos (2012) which found that people who were reminded of money performed better on tasks of self-control than people reminded of neutral concepts.
Self-Control and Stress Art Markman explains the marshmallow test and research on delay of gratification and how it predicts positive outcomes and a better ability to deal with stress. From Psychology Today, July 16, 2013.
To Increase Willpower Should You Focus on Greater Self-Control or Greater Self-Compassion? Recent research summarized here in the Barking Up the Wrong Tree blog by Eric Barker, May 11, 2012, suggests that greater self-compassion will increase motivation.
The Psychological Secret to Great Exercise Habits Here’s the secret: It’s all about making sure there are regular cues which prompt you to automatically exercise. The catch? These cues are likely to be different for different people. From PsyBlog, July 15, 2015.
The Struggles of a Psychologist Studying Self-Control Psychologist and writer Maria Konnikova talks with Walter Mischel about his research using the marshmallow test to study self-control and delay of gratification. Here, she discusses strategies Mischel used to help himself quit smoking and eat healthier. Self-control is like a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Avoiding something tempting once will help you develop the ability to resist other temptations in the future. From The New Yorker, October 9, 2014.
True Grit Getting to that finish line takes stamina and determination. Researchers are working to identify how gritty individuals get things done. according to this article by Angela Lee Duckworth and Lauren Eskreis-Winkler for the APS Observer, April, 2013.
What Can Self-Control Do For You? Can self-control make you happy, willing to sacrifice for others, fairer, unethical or easy to hypnotize? Read on to find out about all 10 new studies which provide surprising answers to these and other questions about what self-control can do for you.
Self-Motivation: How You Can Do it! Beats I Can Do It Research by Sanda Dolcos and Dolores Albarracín published in the European Journal of Social Psychology and summarized here for the BPS Research Digest suggests that second-person self-talk (e.g., You can do it!) is more effective than first-person self-talk. The researchers surmised that second-person talk maybe be effective because it cues memories of receiving support and encouragement from others, especially in childhood. July 9, 2014.
Willpower Expert Roy Baumeister on Staying in Control Roy Baumeister explains what willpower is, what depletes our willpower, and how we can manage our willpower to achieve our goals in this interview from Time, January 14, 2013.
You’re So Self-Controlling Is our sense of time, not our lack of willpower, the real issue? While we generally think that delay of gratification is a good thing, research on decision making by Joseph Kable and Joseph McGuire suggests that since the timing of real-world events is often unpredictable, giving up can be a rational response to a time frame that is off. From The New York Times, November 16, 2013, by Maria Konnikova.
Assignments, Exercises, and Activities
Why Self-Control and Grit Matter —- And Why It Pays to Know the Difference C. Nathan DeWall, writing for the Teaching Current Directions in Psychological Science column in the APS Observer, presents this five-minute activity on the Duckworth and Gross (2014) study of Self-Control and Grit.
Current Researchers and Research Team Pages
The Duckworth Lab The research lab of Angela Duckworth at the University of Pennsylvania: Our lab focuses on two traits that predict achievement: grit and self-control. Grit is the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals (Duckworth et al., 2007). Self-control is the voluntary regulation of behavioral, emotional, and attentional impulses in the presence of momentarily gratifying temptations or diversions (Duckworth & Seligman, 2005; Duckworth & Steinberg, 2015).
Examples and Illustrations
Tests, Measures, and Scales
2 Easy Ways to Increase Willpower — Courtesy Of The Cookie Monster Eric Barker, in his "Barking Up The Wrong Tree" blog, reviews the research on willpower and how to delay gratification using videos of kids and the Cookie Monster. Interestingly, Sesame Street actually consulted with Walter Mischel, the originator of the marshmallow test, to be sure that Cookie got his psychology correct. Cookie Monster illustrates that distraction and focus can help self-control in a charming music video. From December 2, 2013.
Self-Regulation: Video Talk by Roy Baumeister Roy Baumeister presents this talk to the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, an organization committed to finding innovative practical solutions to today’s social challenges, explaining why willpower and self-control is one of the most important aspects of individual and societal wellbeing (runs 15 minutes and 50 seconds).