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J Pers. 2004 Apr;72(2):271-324.

High self-control predicts good adjustment, less pathology, better grades, and interpersonal success.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Case Western Reserve University, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030-4444, USA.


What good is self-control? We incorporated a new measure of individual differences in self-control into two large investigations of a broad spectrum of behaviors. The new scale showed good internal consistency and retest reliability. Higher scores on self-control correlated with a higher grade point average, better adjustment (fewer reports of psychopathology, higher self-esteem), less binge eating and alcohol abuse, better relationships and interpersonal skills, secure attachment, and more optimal emotional responses. Tests for curvilinearity failed to indicate any drawbacks of so-called overcontrol, and the positive effects remained after controlling for social desirability. Low self-control is thus a significant risk factor for a broad range of personal and interpersonal problems.

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