Self-control and normativity: Theories in social psychology revisited

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The exercise of self-control is of great significance in people's daily lives and in the organization of social institutions. The reasonableness of the self-control concept, however, has been challenged by recent developments in cognitive, behavioral, and neurosciences that identify human behavior as a result of complex automatic processes generated by people's environments. Collating more data on self-control and developing new theoretical approaches is crucial to meeting this challenge. Still, this article argues that a conceptual analysis of the meaning of self-control is also needed. Reflecting on recent work in philosophy, it discusses how self-controlled behavior is characterized not only by distinct causal mechanisms, but also by fundamental normative evaluations. Four conceptualizations of self-control will be presented to highlight why the corresponding self-control failures are essentially also normative failures. Furthermore, it discusses how the normativity of self-controlled behavior can contribute to further theorizing in social psychology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-44
Number of pages20
JournalTheory & Psychology
Volume25
Issue number1
Early online date1 Dec 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015

Keywords

  • making up one's mind
  • normativity
  • philosophy of action
  • recklessness
  • resistibility
  • self
  • self-control
  • social psychology
  • temptation
  • weakness of will
  • LIMITED RESOURCE
  • MORAL MUSCLE
  • BEHAVIOR
  • DEPLETION
  • WILL
  • PERSONALITY
  • DELAY
  • GRATIFICATION
  • AUTOMATICITY
  • WILLPOWER

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