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How self-control can actually unleash your dark side

https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200827-how-self-control-can-actually-unleash-your-dark-side

bbc.com

How self-control can actually unleash your dark side
People with great willpower are often lauded over their peers with less self-control. But having strong character may not always be a good thing.

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The Dark Side Of Self Control

The Dark Side Of Self Control

Agreeable, organized individuals seem to have a suppressed, dark side in their personality.

Model citizens, and people with high self-control, and those who are resistant to impulsive behaviour in daily life, maybe ‘bursting’ out their inner desires in one go all of a sudden, letting go of their willpower and even morality.

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Self Control And Moral Character

People with high levels of self-control are generally seen to be healthy, well-rounded individuals who are ideally less likely to act violently or aggressively.

New research shows that this behaviour pattern may be to gain acceptance and tread the social norms as a means to one’s end, being selfish and self-centred in private.

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High Self-Control

People with high self-control have a surprising behavioural trait of being shrewd and cruel according to various studies:

  1. They are more likely to cover up an anti-social act to avoid getting caught, like for dangerous driving.
  2. They ended up being keener to kill hundreds of bugs in a grinder, without any feeling of remorse.
  3. They electrocuted their opponents in a TV game to a much higher degree than others, not knowing that the electrocution is being feigned by the contestant.

But more research needs to be done before we slot someone’s moral values and behavioural traits into predictable patterns.

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Willpower is not the lucky ticket to success

Studies have shown that people that are really good at achieving their goals are not the ones that put more effort into exerting self-control in the face of temptations, but the ones that experience fewer temptations to start with.

People who are good at self-control

  • They actually enjoy the activities some of us resist (eating healthy, studying, exercising)
  • They have better decision-making habits
  • Some people just experience fewer temptations
  • It’s easier to have self-control when you’re wealthy - when you’re poor, the future is less certain.

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Self-Control

 ... is the ability to regulate and alter responses in order to avoid undesirable behaviors, increase desirable ones, and achieve long-term goals.

Research on Self-Control

  • A 2011 survey found that 27 % of respondents identified a lack of willpower as the primary factor keeping them from reaching their goals. 
  • One study found that students who exhibited greater self-discipline had better grades, higher test scores, and were more likely to be admitted to a competitive academic program. 
  • The study also found that when it came to academic success, self-control was a more important factor than IQ scores.
  • A health study found that people who were rated as having high levels of self-control during childhood continued to have high levels of physical and mental health in adulthood.
  • Research has found that self-control is a limited resource. In the long-term, exercising self-control tends to strengthen it. 

Motivation and Monitoring

A lack of willpower is not the only factor that affects goal attainment.

  • There needs to be a clear goal and the motivation to change. Having an unclear or overly general goal and insufficient motivation can lead to failure.
  • You need to monitor your actions daily towards the achievement of the goal.
  • You need to have willpower.

Self-control

Self-control

It’s your ability to resolve conflicts between your short-term desires and your long-term goals.

For example, successful self-control means sacrificing immediate pleasure (cookies a...

Why self-control matters

People who have high self-control aren’t missing out on enjoyment. Not being able to resist temptation and enjoying life are not the same things.

They tend to eat in a healthily way, exercise more, sleep better, drink less alcohol, smoke fewer cigarettes, achieve higher grades at university, have more peaceful relationships, and are more financially secure.

Biological limits to self-control

Research showed that self-control is ultimately limited by our biology. We can’t exercise effortful self-control indefinitely – the brain has to do regular maintenance to remain functional.