Despite the present view of most psychologists that self-control is limited and can be depleted, Michael Inzlicht of the University of Toronto Scarborough, Brandon Schmeichel from Texas A&M University and Neil Macrae from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland have shown that self-control is limitless but dependent on other criteria in research that was published in the Jan. 15, 2014, edition of the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
The researchers found that self-control was limitless for activities that people want to do but could be limited by fatigue or lack of interest in activities that people do not want to do.
The researchers define self-control as the mental processes that allow people to override thoughts and emotions, enabling them to vary behavior from moment to moment in order to adapt to changing circumstances. Self-imposed or external restraints on doing what a person wants to do as opposed to what a person has to do results in a loss of self-control.
The researchers claim that minimizing the level of emotional and mental involvement in tasks that a person does not want to do or does not care to do can produce more self-control. Breaks from tasks also were found to improve people’s levels of self-control.
The practical applications of the theoretical findings could lead to an improvement in diet and exercise as well as an improved ability to successfully plow through the monotony that is often involved in some aspect of any person’s work.