Helping an Individual to Develop Self-Control
-Many problems of self-control involve self-restraint- learning to decrease excessive
behaviors that have immediate gratification-such as excessive smoking, eating, drinking,
and watching TV.
Problems of Behavioral Excesses
- One type of self-control problem consists of behavioral excesses-doing too
much of something (eating, drinking, etc) and this leads to immediate
reinforcers (good taste in food, in drinks, etc).
- Immediate reinforcers Vs. Delayed Punishers of a behaviour- if a behavior
leads to immediate reinforcers by delayed punishers, the immediate
reinforcers often win out.
- Immediate Reinforcers versus Cumulatively Significant Punishers for a
Behavior- Example- eating too many sweets is immediately reinforced by the
good taste, although the cumulative significant punishers (unhealthy for your
body) can cause severe health problem in the future. It is the accumulation of
extra desserts on many occasions that causes a health problem.
- Immediate Small Punishers for a Behavior vs. Reinforcers that are
cumulatively significant- Example! the accumulation of the benefits of
exercising on many occasions is what is noticeable. Many people fail to
follow desirable health practices because doing so leads to immediate small
punishers, whereas the positive effects, though immediate, are too small to be
effected until they have accumulated over many trials.
- Immediate Small Punisher for behavior Vs. Immediate but Highly
improbably major punisher if the behaviour does not occur- Example! if
you wore eye protection when playing hockey can prevent serious eye injury,
or wearing a helmet when riding a bike. People do not tend to wear safety
gear because it may be uncomfortable to wear, or it doesn’t look nice or
- Immediate Small punisher for a behavior vs. a delayed Major Punisher if
the behavior does not occur. - example! when you floss your teeth, it does
tend to hurt sometimes (immediate small punishers) because it is an
unpleasant feeling, but if you NEVER floss your teeth for long periods of
times (exam weeks, months etc) then, chances are in the future you will
develop some unhealthy dental hygiene.
A Model for Self-Control
- An effective model of self-control must deal satisfactorily with the causes of
self-control problems described in the preceding section. The model that we
describe here has two parts:
1) Requires clear specification of the problem as a behavior to be controlled.
2) Requires that you apply behavioral techniques to manage the problem.