Psychology 2550A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 17: Sympathetic Nervous System, Negative Affectivity, Electrical Resistance And Conductance

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Chapter 17: Self Regulation from goal pursuit to goal attainment
Overview of Contributions to Self-regulation from each level
Akrasia lack or a weakness of the will a character trait (Greeks) deficiency of the will
psychodynamic: self regulation problems reflect internal conflicts b/w basic bio impulses
vs inhibiting influences, often outside awareness; importance of ability to delay
Trait dispositional: found and measured broad individual differences in
conscientiousness and self-regulatio, as ell as distiitie if…the.. ehaiour
signatures in self-regulation; examined constructs and dimensions of ego control and
ego resilience
Bio: id brain centers, pathways and interacting hot and cool systems in effortful control
and delay of gratification
Behavioural: importance and power of situations and stimulus control; how emotional
conditioning and response consequences shape behaviour and make self control and
regulation difficult
Phenomenological: perception is subejctve; persons cognitive appraisals and construal
of situations influence their impact on behaviour; showed possibilities for self-
determination; higher order processes provide routes to enhance self-direction
Social cognitive: helped bridge the gap b/w construal and action; showed how the
construal of the situation interacts with other mental representations to influence goal
directed effortful behaviour; analyzed the mental mechanisms and strategies that
enable delay of gratification and goal directed self-control
Self-Regulatory Process in Goal Pursuit
Personal Goals and Projects
Goals an individual pursues are organized and coherent, and of central importance in
the functioning of the personality system
Differ in goals you value, and shift over development
Life tasks
Current life tasks are defined as projects to which individuals commit themselves during
particular periods in their lives
Self created tasks help give meaning to the individuals life and provide organization and
direction for many more specific activities and goal pursuits that are in their service
Are significant LT goals that are meaningful for the individual at a certain point in time
Experienced as personally urgent, also often ill-defined and loosely formulated, w/
limited self awareness
Goal Hierarchies
Are organized hierarchically in the personality system, with some the super ordinate
goals more important than the subordinate goals
When goal attainment at a given level is blocked and frustrated, people may continue to
strive toward the higher level goal toward which the lower level activity was directed
Goals central to understanding personal and life goals but methods of pursuing
depend on own standards and self-evaluations
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Standards and Self-evaluation
In goal pursuit, people evaluate their own behaviour and perceived progress, and
reward and punish themselves accordingly
People asses themselves and become their own internal judges and reward-punishment
system, using the standards that they have developed for themselves
People compare current state of performance with those standards, if they perceive
discrepancy, tend to be motivated to reduce it or reset their standards to lower level
Why self-regulate
Most of goal pursuit is automatic
These automatic mental-emotional processes activated in goal pursuit are adaptive for
most life functions
Beyond Automaticity to willpower
John Bargh showed that most of what people do runs off automatically without
conscious intervention
Its elicited by the particular stimulus conditions in the situation, often without persons
o Becomes easy to bypass own evaluative self standards and to exhibit reflexive,
automatic impulsive behaviour that may later regret
These findings coexist w/ the intuitive conviction that human beings have the capacity
to take control and exert willpower at least some of the time
Often people do overcome obstacles and temptations along way to achieving their
valued LT goals, and manage to resist the pull of even strong situational pressures
Self-regulation requires both motivation and competence
Effective self regulation and self control in goal pursuit depends on persons motivation
and their competencies
If these self regulatory behaviours are serving a higher goal central to the self, like being
a worthy, self-respecting person, their motivational significance will be high and they
will be mentally more accessible
Helps to distinguish b/w self-regulatory motivation and competence
o Often have one of these but not the other
Even with high regulatory motivation, goal attainment depends critically on the
availability and accessibility of effective self-regulatory competencies
Self-regulatory competencies refer to the cognitive and attentional mechanisms that
help us execute goal-directed behaviour
The bio level: effortful control
Brain mechanisms in effortful control
Researchers have described an anterior attentional system that regulates the pathways
involved in EF throughout the cortex
EF is required for adaptive, goal directed behaviours to solve novel problems,
particularly those calling for the inhibition of automatic or established thoughts and
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These EF brain systems, and their associated psych processes enable effortful control, or
in lay language, will power and in goal pursuit
o Do so by allowing people to regulate their attention
o Attention regulation process includes the ability to focus attention in perception,
to switch attention b/w tasks, to ignore or inhibit interfering responses and to
control thoughts flexibly
Trait Dispositional
Self report measures have been developed to identify individual differences in the
attention control mechanisms that are basic for effortful control
And that are correlated with the brain measures
Attention control scores are related positively to extraversion and negatively to anxiety
and impulsivity
Ego control and ego resilience
Ego control refers to the degree of impulse control in such functions as inhibition of
aggression and the ability to plan
A related construct, ego resilience, refers to the individuals ability to adapt to
environmental demands by appropriately modifying his or her habitual level of ego
Ego resiliey allos futioig / soe elastiity ad pereaility
Together these two constructs represent core qualities for adaptive functioning from an
influential trait dispositional perspective that also has been influenced by modern
psychodynamic research
Jack Block the resilient person anticipates wisely when to stop something unfruitful or
to continue something that may ultimately prove fruitful
In its adaptiveness, resiliency well serves evolution
E.g. oe study rated hildre’s tedey to ihiit ipulses to ifer their leel of ego
control and also observed their delay behaviour in experimental situations
Exposed children to a frustration in which barrier separated child from toy
Undercontrolling children (been rated as not inhibiting their impulses) reacted more
violently to the frustrating barrier than did over controlling, inhibited
Undercontrolling also became less constructive in their play
Those high on indices of ego control tend to be more able to control and inhibit their
motor activity
In studies of the ego-resiliency construct, toddlers were evaluated for the degree to
which they seemed secure and competent (in a problem solving task)
o Toddlers who were secure and competent also scored higher on measures of ego
resiliency when they reached age 4/5 years
Ego resilient children at age 3 viewed as popular, interesting and attractive at later ages
Resilience concept also is related to delay of immediate gratification for the sake of
more valued but delayed outcomes
Both the concepts of ego control and ego resiliency help characterize important
individual differences in self-regulation and self control patterns
Social-Cognitive and Phenomenological-Humanistic Level
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