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Chapter 17

Psychology 2550A/B Chapter 17: Chapter 17

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Psychology 2550A/B
David Vollick

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 gratification • Trait dispositional: found and measured broad individual differences in conscientiousness and self-regulation, as well as distininctive if…then.. behaviour 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 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 Automaticity • 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 awareness 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 responses • 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 control • Ego resiliency allows functioning w/ some “elasticity” and “permeability” • 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. one study rated children’s tendency to inhibit impulses to infer their level 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 • Try to understand the mental mechanisms – the thoughts and strategies – that enable self-regulatory competence and effortful control • How mental activities – cognition and attention – during goal pursuit influence the ability to persist and reach difficult but important LT goals Self-Regulation in Approach (Appetitive) Dilemmas • How certain mental processes enable or undermine self regulation and goal pursuit in approach or appetitive dilemmas • In both types of dilemmas people need willpower, or rather, the mental processes that make willpower possible Delay of gratification ability • The ability to voluntarily delay immediate gratification, to tolerate self-imposed delays of reward, is at the core of most concepts of willpower, ego strength and ego resilience • Learning to wait for desired outcomes and to behave in light of expected future consequences is essential for the successful achievement of long term distant goals Goal directed delay situation: marshmallow test • 4 year old shown some desired treats; faces conflict: wait until experimenter returns and get two of the desired treats, or ring a bell and the experimenter will come back immediately but then only get one • the situation has become a prototype for studying the conflict b/w an immediate smaller temptation and a higher-order buy delayed larger goal, the bigger treat that will come later (when experimenter returns) • guided by idea when studies began that delay becomes easier when the desired gratification can be visualized o based on Freud’s classic idea that the delay of gratification becomes possible when the young child creates a mental image of the object of desire – the mental representation of the object, according to psychodynamic theory, allows mental time binding and enables delay and impulse inhibition • suggested delay ability requires anticipatory representation of the reward or goal, or self-instructions to make them more salient and powerful Cooling Strategies: its how you think that counts Strategic self-distraction • did an experiment that manipulated the extent to which children could attend to the reward objects while they were waiting • one conditioning, the children waited with both the immediate (less preferred) and the delayed (more preferred) reward facing them in the experimental room so they could attend to both outcomes • another group, neither reward was available for the childs attention, both out of sight • in remaining two groups, either delayed reward only or immediate reward only was available for attention while the child waiting • child waited much longer when the rewards were not available for attention • children waited much longer for a preferred reward when they were distracted cognitively from the goal objects than when they directly attended to them Hot and Cool Construal • the outcomes or rewards in this type of situation may be construed in terms of their hot, consummatory properties, or in terms of their cool, informative properties • a hot representation of a reward such as a desired treat activates the behaviours associated with experiencing or consuming it • found that just how one thinks about the rewards in the contingency crucially influences how long one can wait or work to attain them Flexible attention • adaptive self-regulation in goal pursuit involves more than application of cooling strategies • requires shifting attention flexible rather than unconditional use of cooling strategies • some of the children who delay best seem to focus briefly on hot features in the situation to sustain motivation but then quickly switch back to the cool features and self-distraction • effective self regulation also requires sensitivity to the demands, cosntraints and opportunities of the particular situation • discriminative facility – taking into account characteristics of each situation and responding accordingly may play central role in coping, self-regulation and social emotional competence in general • cooling is likely to be adaptive when applied to coping in aversive or frustrating situation that must be tolerated f
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