Tag Archives: self-control

Self-Distancing Pronouns Use Can Increase Self-Management

Ethan Kross

Ethan Kross

Despite years of popular guidance to use self-statements for difficult conversations with partners, spouses, and bosses, research argues for using self-distancing alternatives to manage stress and increase self-control.

Emma Bruehlman-Senecal

Emma Bruehlman-Senecal

University of Michigan’s Ethan Kross, Jiyoung Park, Aleah Burson, Adrienne Dougherty, Holly Shablack, and Ryan Bremner with Emma Bruehlman-Senecal and Ozlem Ayduk of University of California, Berkeley, plus Michigan State’s Jason Moser studied more than 580 people’s ability to self-regulate reactions to social stress by using different ways of referring to the self during introspection.

LeBron James

LeBron James

One example of variations in self-reference is LeBron James’ statement, One thing I didn’t want to do was make an emotional decision. I wanted to do what’s best for LeBron James and to do what makes LeBron James happy.”

The team demonstrated that using non-first-person pronouns (such as “he” or “she”)  and one’s own name (rather than “I”) during introspection enhanced self-distancing, or focusing on the self from a distant perspective.

Stephen Hayes

Stephen Hayes

Distancing, also called “decentering” or “self as context,” allows people to observe and accept their feelings, according to University of Nevada’s Steven Hayes, Jason Luoma, Akihiko Masuda and Jason Lillis collaborating with Frank Bond of University of London.

Ozlem Ayduk

Ozlem Ayduk

Self-distancing verbalizations were associated with less distress and less maladaptive “post-event processing  (reviewing performance) when delivering a speech without sufficient time to prepare, and when seeking to make a good first impression on others.
Post-event processing can lead to increased social anxiety, noted Temple University’s Faith Brozovich and Richard Heimberg.

Faith Brozovich

Faith Brozovich

They found that participantsexperienced less global negative affect and shame after delivering a speech without sufficient preparation time, and engaged in less post-event processing.

Adrienne Dougherty

People who talked about themselves with non-first person pronouns also performed better in speaking and impression-formation social tasks, according to ratings by observers.

Participants who used self-distancing language appraised future stressors as less threatening, and they more effectively reconstrued experiences for greater coping, insight, and closure, in another study by Kross and Ayduk.

Ryan Bremner

Ryan Bremner

People with elevated scores on measures of depression or bipolar disorder experienced less distress when applying a self-distanced visual perspective as they contemplated emotional experiences, noted Kross and Ayduk, collaborating with San Francisco State University’s David Gard, Patricia Deldin of University of Michigan, and Jessica Clifton of University of Vermont.

David Gard

Using second-person pronouns (“you”) seems to be a self-distancing strategy when people reflect on situations that involve self-control, noted University of North Carolina’s Ethan Zell, Amy Beth Warriner of McMaster University and University of Illinois’s Dolores Albarracín.

Ethan Zell

These findings demonstrate that small changes in self-referencing words during introspection significantly increase self-regulation of thoughts, feelings, and behavior during social stress experiences.

Self-distancing references may help people manage depression and anger about past and anticipated social anxiety.

Dolores Albarracín

-*What impact do you experience when you use “self-distancing language”?

-*How do you react when you hear others using “self-distancing language,” like referring to “you” when speaking about their own experience?

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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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“Grit” Rivals IQ and EQ to Achieve Goals

Emotional intelligence has been demonstrated to be a better predictor of achievement and performance than measure of intelligence. 

Angela Duckworth

Angela Duckworth

One important component of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is perseverance, the consistent, sustained and focused application of talent and effort over time, University of Pennsylvania’s Angela Duckworth.  

Christopher Peterson

Christopher Peterson

She refers to this perseverance and passion for long-term goals as “grit” in her research with West Point cadets and Scripps National Spelling Bee contestants, in collaboration with University of Michigan’ Christopher Peterson and Michael Matthews and Dennis Kelly of United States Military Academy, West Point.

Grit was not related to IQ but was highly correlated with “Conscientiousness,” a personality trait described in the Five Factor Model of Personality.
It was also a better predictor of “success” as measured by retention at West Point, and advancement in the National Spelling Bee.

Michael Matthews

Michael Matthews

In addition, “grittier” participants:

  • Achieved higher levels of education
  • Had fewer job switches and career changes
  • Earned higher school grades than their peers, despite having lower standardized test scores measuring intelligence and achievement
  • Devoted more hours to deliberate practice (defined as individual word study and memorization for spelling bee contestants).
Teri Kirby

Teri Kirby

K. Anders Ericcson

K. Anders Ericcson

The most effective deliberate practice was rated as the least pleasurable, and “grittier” individuals did more of this effort in Duckworth’s expanded study with Teri Kirby, Eli Tsukayama, Heather Berstein,  then of Penn with K. Anders Ericsson of Florida State University.

Heather Berstein

Heather Berstein

Practice activities rated as more pleasurable and less effortful, like reading for pleasure, being quizzed by their parents, contributed less to spelling performance.

Paul Tough

Paul Tough

Parents and educators found responded enthusiastically to Paul Tough’s popularized summary of “grit” research in his book advising parents and teachers how to help young people develop grit, curiosity, conscientiousness, and optimism.
He “gritty” attributes highly correlated with successful academic and career performance.

Duckworth expanded the investigation of grit to include “explanatory style”, seen in individuals’ propensity to explain events from optimistic or pessimistic perspectives.
Explanatory style is evaluated according to whether the individual considers event causes as:

  • Personal (Internal vs. External cause or influence)
  • Permanent (Stable vs. Unstable)
  • Pervasive (Global vs. Local/Specific)

Optimistic explanatory style is characterized by external, unstable, local / specific explanations, whereas pessimistic styles include internal, stable, global attributions.

Duckwork and team found that novice teachers with more optimistic explanatory styles rated themselves higher in both grit and life satisfaction, and these high ratings were associated with better work effectiveness, as evaluated at the end of the school year.

Eli Tsukayama

Eli Tsukayama

Katherine Von Culin

Katherine Von Culin

Her students, Katherine Von Culin and Eli Tsukayama “unpacked” grit and found different difference in motivation and beliefs for grit’s two components:  perseverance vs passion.
Among more than 300 volunteers, they found that perseverance and passion had different meaning, pleasure, and engagement orientations to happiness and implicit beliefs about willpower.

Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck

The research team is evaluating the relationship between “grit” and “growth mindset,” introduced by Stanford’s Carol Dweck to signify viewing failures and setbacks as opportunities to learn and improve, rather than a permanent lack of ability.

ell

ell

Dweck, with Lisa Blackwell, then of Columbia and University of Western Ontario’s Kali Trzesniewski demonstrated the impact of growth mindset and positive explanatory style on school motivation and achievement.

In addition, Duckworth and team are considering ability to delay gratification as a component of grit, since it has been associated with greater self-control and life accomplishment.

More grit may not always lead to greater accomplishment.
Duckworth and team speculate that grittier individuals may be:

  • More vulnerable to the “sunk-cost fallacy
  • Less open to information that contradicts their present beliefs
  • Handicapped by judgment and decision-making biases
  • Likely to new opportunities because they are tenaciously focused on the original goal.
Emilia Lahti

Emilia Lahti

Duckworth‘s colleague at Penn, Emilia Lahti is leading research on grit’s Finnish cousin, “Sisu,” implying perseverance, bravery and stamina, and should report her findings by the end of 2013.

Assess your “grittiness” with the research team’s survey.

-*How accurately does your score reflect your view of your grittiness, perseverance?

-*How do you develop grit in yourself and others?

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