Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What is Self Control?

Self Control.                                                                                                                                          Self-control is the ability to control one's emotionsbehavior, and desires in order to obtain some reward, or avoid some punishment. B.F. Skinner's Science and Human Behavior provides a survey of nine categories of self-control methods.[31]

Physical restraint and physical aid

The manipulation of the environment to make some response easier to physically execute and others physically more difficult illustrates this principle. Things such as clapping one's hand over one's own mouth, placing one's hands in one's pockets to prevent fidgeting, and using a 'bridge' hand position to steady a pool shot all represent physical methods to affect behavior.[32]

Changing the stimulus

Manipulating the occasion for behavior may change behavior as well. Removing distractions that induce undesired actions or adding a prompt to induce it are examples. Hiding temptation and reminders are two more.[33]

Depriving and satiating

One may manipulate one's own behavior by affecting states of deprivation or satiation. By skipping a meal before a free dinner one may more effectively capitalize on the free meal. By eating a healthy snack beforehand the temptation to eat free "junk food" is reduced.[34]

Manipulating emotional conditions

Going for a 'change of scene' can remove emotional stimuli, as may rehearsing injustice to motivate a strong response later.[35]
Treating an activity as "work" or "fun" can have an effect on the difficulty of self-control.[36]

Using aversive stimulation

Setting an alarm clock to awake ourselves later is a form of aversive control. By doing this we arrange something that will only be escapable by doing things (turning off the clock) which tend to awaken ourselves.[35]


The use of self-administered drugs allows us to simulate changes in our conditioning history. The ingestion of caffeine allows us to simulate a state of wakefulness which may be useful for various reasons.[37]

Operant conditioning

The use of a token economy, or other methods or techniques unique to operant conditioning may be seen as a special form of self-control. It can take great self-control to stay off drugs or to stop smoking.


Self-punishment of responses would include the arranging of punishment contingent upon undesired responses. This might be seen in the behavior of whipping oneself which some monks and religious persons do. This is different from aversive stimulation in that, for example, the alarm clock generates escape from the alarm, while self-punishment presents stimulation after the fact to reduce the probability of future behavior.[37]
Punishment is more like conformity than self-control because with self-control there needs to be an internal drive, not an external source of punishment that makes the person want to do something. There is external locus of control which is similar to determinism and there is internal locus of control which is similar to free will. With a learning system of punishment the person does not make their decision based upon what they want, rather they base it on the external factors. When you use a negative reinforcement you are more likely to influence their internal decisions and allow them to make the choice on their own whereas with a punishment the person will make their decisions based upon the consequences and not exert self-control. The best way to learn self-control is with free will where people are able to perceive they are making their own choices.[38.                                                      "Doing something else"
Skinner noted that various philosophies and religions exemplified this principle by instructing believers to love their enemies.[39] When we are filled with rage or hatred we might control ourselves by 'doing something else' or more specifically something that is incompatible with our response.


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