Increase Self-Control with Purpose in Life, Positive Outlook, Humility

Anthony Burrow

Anthony Burrow

People with a sense of purpose are more likely to make choices with long-term benefits like saving for retirement and children’s education.
In addition, they are less likely to be diverted by short-term gratification and impulsive actions like such as cigarette smoking, drug use, gambling, and driving under the influence, found Cornell’s Anthony L. Burrow and R. Nathan Spreng in work with more than 500 adults.
As a result, Purpose in Life was related to reduced impulsivity and increased self-control.

Nathan Spreng

Nathan Spreng

Volunteers completed a personality inventory and a self-rating of Purpose in Life before making choices about whether to take a smaller amount of money immediately or a larger amount at some later date.

Waiting times and amount of the payoffs differed during each trial.
Participants who said they had a clear life purpose made longer-term, higher-payoff choices, suggesting greater ability to curb the impulse for an immediate reward, and greater self-management capacity.

Chai Jing

Chai Jing

Another factor in reducing one type of impulsive behavior – dangerous driving – is a “positivity bias,” hallmarked by seeing positive events as more salient than negative incidents, reported University of Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Chai Jing , Weina Qu, Xianghong Sun, Kan Zhang, and Yan Ge.

Weina Qu

Weina Qu

They studied more than 40 non-professional drivers using electroencephalograph data, self-reports of driving, violation reports, and International Affective Picture System (IAPS)  scores to measure negativity biases.

Volunteers identified whether a series of 80 pictures had blue borders or red borders around images that implicitly evoke negative, positive, or neutral emotions.
Dangerous drivers took longer to respond on the border-color task when the image was negative, suggesting greater attention to negative input.

Patrick Hill

Patrick Hill

Sense of purpose is also linked to greater longevity in a study by Carleton University’s Patrick Hill and Nicholas Turiano of the University of Rochester, in their study of more than 6100 Americans followed over 14 years.

Rachel Sumner

Rachel Sumner

Purpose in Life can increase White adult’s comfort with diverse groups, and may be associated with reduced prejudice, noted Cornell’s Burrow and Rachel Sumner, Maclen Stanley of Harvard, and Carlton University’s Patrick L. Hill in their study of more than 500 Americans.

Maclen Stanley

Maclen Stanley

Participants who received an experimental prime of life purpose also reported less preference for living in an ethnically homogeneous White city.
These effects persisted were independent of volunteers’ positive affect and perceived connections to ethnic out-groups.

Eddie M.W. Tong

Eddie M.W. Tong

Humility is another characteristic associated with reduced impulsivity and greater self-control in research by National University of Singapore’s Eddie M.W. Tong, Kenny W.T. Tan, Agapera A.B. Chor, Emmeline P.S. Koh, Jehanne S.Y. Lee, and Regina W.Y. Tan.

Defined as the ability to tolerate failures without self-deprecation, and to view successes without developing a sense of superiority, humility primes were associated with improved performance in a physical stamina (handgrip), resisting chocolate, and an insoluble tracing task.

Kenny W.T. Tan

Kenny W.T. Tan

Humility’s effect on self-regulation was significantly different from self-esteem, which had no impact on self-control.
Likewise, achievement motivation and compliance motivation did not explain increased performance.

Taken together, these findings suggest that effectively managing oneself in the face of challenging and tempting circumstances is enhanced by having a clear purpose in life, cultivating a positive bias and humility.

-*To what extent does having a sense of purpose make it easier to maintain self-control in challenging situations?

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One thought on “Increase Self-Control with Purpose in Life, Positive Outlook, Humility

  1. kathrynwelds Post author

    Hendrix Weisinger, Ph.D. wrote:

    People with purpose are also more enthusiastic which translates into “Zest.”. Also, I found a bunch of studies that suggest people with a purpose are effected less by pressure, probably because their “purpose” serves as a focusing mechanism and also, their purpose probably makes them less focused on fear of failure.

    Kathryn Welds responded:

    Thanks so much, Dr. Weisinger, for additional information on Purpose in Life’s relationship to coping with Pressure.

    See Dr. Weisinger’s highly-rated book, Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most – http://www.amazon.com/Perform…/dp/B00N6PESWC/ref=sr_1_1…

    Performing Under Pressure: The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most
    AMAZON.COM
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