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Pers Soc Psychol Rev. 2011 Nov;15(4):352-66. doi: 10.1177/1088868311411165. Epub 2011 Jun 17.

On conceptualizing self-control as more than the effortful inhibition of impulses.

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Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


The notion that self-control entails effortful inhibition of impulses dominates prevailing psychological models of self-control. This article describes some of the conceptual and empirical limitations of defining self-control as the effortful inhibition of impulses. The present article instead advocates for a dual-motive conceptualization, which describes self-control as the process of advancing distal rather than proximal motivations when the two compete. Effortful impulse inhibition in this model represents only one of many means by which people promote their self-control efforts. Adopting a dual-motive approach offers new insight and proposes several new research directions. This article discusses these implications and calls for psychologists to reconsider the way self-control is currently understood.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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