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Bloggingheads 11-19-2011 02:44 AM

Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 

Starwatcher162536 11-19-2011 03:55 AM

Cognitive Scientists vs. Grandmothers; Round I
 
I wonder if the cognitive sciences will ever find anything out that my grandmother didn't already know (She made me always hold but not consume for 60 seconds anytime I received any sort of sweet). One wonders if this is an indictment of the cognitive sciences, or if I just had a very wise grandmother.

sugarkang 11-19-2011 08:48 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
I love Joshua's new talking voice. It must be related to his new hairstyle, which must, in turn, be related to Pink Floyd and marijuana.

http://img4.imageshack.us/img4/620/pinkfloyd1n.jpg

With regard to the self-control theory as presented, it seems quite overstated. I spent twenty years smoking heavily and attempted to quit a dozen times. Thinking that I lacked will power was precisely the problem. Will power isn't in the equation 6 months after you've already quit.

The alternative habit prescriptions seem helpful, however.

badhatharry 11-19-2011 09:50 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sugarkang (Post 232162)
With regard to the self-control theory as presented, it seems quite overstated. I spent twenty years smoking heavily and attempted to quit a dozen times. Thinking that I lacked will power was precisely the problem. Will power isn't in the equation 6 months after you've already quit.

The myth of perpetually fighting addiction. It keeps people employed and AA well attended.

harkin 11-19-2011 10:07 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sugarkang (Post 232162)
I love Joshua's new talking voice.

I havent listened to Joshua's dialogues for a bit. Compared to his early ones the improvement is a shock. I know I advised him to try the old David Niven wine cork enunciation exercise back in one of his earlier appearances. Then again maybe he was forced to improve based on lecture reviews.

EDIT: as the dialogue goes on, he kind of regresses to his earlier muffled sine-wave pixie voice.

As to self-control, I agree wholeheartedly. Everything from working my way through college, staying employed and/or maintaining a successful business, having a solid, positive relationship, having very little debt etc are all in part due to avoiding reckless and undisciplined behavior. Reckless for me is going fast on a motorcycle or surfing large waves, not cheating or spending beyond my means or failing to fulfill my obligations to others or (worst of all) being an idler or a parasite.

I also agree strongly with Roy's assertion about everyone having moments of weakness but also using good habits to avoid weakness possibilities in the first place. It's the old "nothing good happens at 2am" lesson many of us got from our parents when we were in high school. Not that 2am can't be a great time but that if you put yourself in a situation you really shouldnt be in, don't be surprised when it goes horribly wrong.

badhatharry 11-19-2011 10:11 AM

Re: Cognitive Scientists vs. Grandmothers; Round I
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 232157)
I wonder if the cognitive sciences will ever find anything out that my grandmother didn't already know (She made me always hold but not consume for 60 seconds anytime I received any sort of sweet). One wonders if this is an indictment of the cognitive sciences, or if I just had a very wise grandmother.

There's nothing new under the sun. Research only confirms what we already know. Going with your gut, despite lack of clinical evidence, is probably not so dumb.

miceelf 11-19-2011 10:14 AM

Re: Cognitive Scientists vs. Grandmothers; Round I
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 232157)
I wonder if the cognitive sciences will ever find anything out that my grandmother didn't already know (She made me always hold but not consume for 60 seconds anytime I received any sort of sweet). One wonders if this is an indictment of the cognitive sciences, or if I just had a very wise grandmother.

My grandmother told me that masturbation would deprive one's body of its vital force.

basman 11-19-2011 10:31 AM

Re: Basman on Will and Wilfullness
 
As it happens, I just wrote this yesterday for something else--I haven't listened to this exchange yet--and I wanted to give anyone who reads this the benefit of my deep insights.

Enjoy:

...We so often speak of will without thinking carefully about what it means even as it is such a fundamental idea in understanding ourselves. In my own thinking about will I have ultimately conceptualized it as determination in the merging of two different ideas of determination: the singling out of something as a kind of judgment as in ...“I have determined that…” or “it is my determination that…;” and the single minded implementation of that determined judgment.

What I have in my own mind added to that conceptualization is that that determination must struggle—the more, the greater the exercise of will—against what stands in its way. Without straining against difficulty will does not operate; it doesn’t have to because it doesn't emerge. So I would add to the second meaning of determination-- "the single minded implementation of that judgment"—"against difficulty."

That addition needs refinement. Difficulty need not be external obstacles; it may inhere in the very project which is will’s object. So if a formidable man blocks my way to my destination and I need to steel myself to the difficulty of overcoming him, that is one mode of will. If my project requires great discipline in achieving it—practice, training, rehearsal, physical effort, exertion, creative effort and the like—that is another mode of will. The first may be thought of as self against the world; the second may be thought of as self against self.

These thoughts also lead me to want to distinguish between will and willful. The latter may be understood as “the unrelenting intent on having one's own way; being headstrong, obstinate; being habitually disposed to disobedience and opposition.” Determination is common to these meanings.

The dividing line between will and willful is transgression.

Will is determination in relation to accomplishment or achievement. Willful is determination in relation to what is disapprobative. If every morning I get up at 5:00 am to train for a marathon, that is an exercise of will. If in the course of my morning runs I cut through my neighbor’s flower beds after having been asked not to that is willful.

So will involves self overcoming self in doing what is difficult to a purpose; willful involves self succumbing to self in wrong doing. In this sense, will and willful are antitheses..

You're Welcome,

Itzik Basman (with all due ironic self-inflation)

Ocean 11-19-2011 10:41 AM

Re: Cognitive Scientists vs. Grandmothers; Round I
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 232157)
I wonder if the cognitive sciences will ever find anything out that my grandmother didn't already know (She made me always hold but not consume for 60 seconds anytime I received any sort of sweet). One wonders if this is an indictment of the cognitive sciences, or if I just had a very wise grandmother.

Yes, but the logic of contemplating the temptation for long periods doesn't work that well when it comes to pictures of attractive people. ;)

miceelf 11-19-2011 11:10 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
I haven't yet watched this but looking forward to it. Baumeister wrote the definitive takedown of the self-esteem movement.

Ocean 11-19-2011 11:17 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by miceelf (Post 232185)
I haven't yet watched this but looking forward to it. Baumeister wrote the definitive takedown of the self-esteem movement.

What do you mean? Is he advocating low self esteem?

Ocean 11-19-2011 11:49 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Nice conversation.

I wish they had discussed a bit more the contribution of temperament to self control. We can all train ourselves to improve self control, but there are people who temperamentally can achieve self control much more easily than others. Looking at very young children and their behavior can give a general idea of those inborn predispositions to self control vs impulsivity.

The role of inhibitions was also mentioned but not elaborated on.

Stories and experimental results regarding new couples and established couples are always entertaining. The balance between desire/drive to do something and countering by self control is somewhat of a simple mathematical operation.

Of course, we all know that there are situations that completely overwhelm one's capacity for self control. Encountering dark chocolate is one of the most obvious, no?

bjkeefe 11-19-2011 12:06 PM

Re: Cognitive Scientists vs. Grandmothers; Round I
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 232183)
Yes, but the logic of contemplating the temptation for long periods doesn't work that well when it comes to pictures of attractive people. ;)

LOL!

Great diavlog, I thought. I always like to hear Josh interview someone. He asks questions that make me think, "Oooo. Yes, that's just what I would have thought of asking there ... if only I were much, much better at coming up with humorous questions that get right to the key point."

Roy's work sounds fascinating. And makes me quite hopeful, as well.

miceelf 11-19-2011 12:11 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 232186)
What do you mean? Is he advocating low self esteem?

No. he is saying that improving self-esteem doesn't usually cause other useful changes. Improvements in self-esteem are usually the result of, not the cause of, other positive changes. It's a symptom, not a cause.

The classic example is the old attempts to improve kids' grades by (among other things) improving their self-esteem. People had noted that kids with good grades also tended to have high self-esteem. So they decided that if they could improve poorer performers' self-esteem, they could improve their grades. It tended not to work, and subsequent research suggested that the link was because kids had high self-esteem in response to good grades, rather than the reverse.

There are some areas in which self-esteem appears to cause other good outcomes, but they are very focused and limited. I said "self-esteem movement", and intended to (i often say things I don't intend to. ;-) )

This is the usual reference. It's pretty accessible for lay people as well (not that you are one).

http://www.csom.umn.edu/Assets/71496.pdf

Here's his bio, which sums it up a little:

http://www.fsu.edu/profiles/baumeister/

bjkeefe 11-19-2011 12:12 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by miceelf (Post 232185)
I haven't yet watched this but looking forward to it. Baumeister wrote the definitive takedown of the self-esteem movement.

I'd love to read that. I presume this would get me started, but do you have a specific link at hand or a specific title in mind?

tia

[Added]
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 232193)
[...]

Thank you for the links.

Ditto.

Ocean 11-19-2011 12:16 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by miceelf (Post 232191)
No. he is saying that improving self-esteem doesn't usually cause other useful changes. Improvements in self-esteem are usually the result of, not the cause of, other positive changes. It's a symptom, not a cause.

The classic example is the old attempts to improve kids' grades by (among other things) improving their self-esteem. People had noted that kids with good grades also tended to have high self-esteem. So they decided that if they could improve poorer performers' self-esteem, they could improve their grades. It tended not to work, and subsequent research suggested that the link was because kids had high self-esteem in response to good grades, rather than the reverse.

Oh, yes, I agree with all that.

The only "but" that comes to mind has to do with the studies that showed that low self esteem and low expectations can be associated with underachievement. So it seems that the deficit in self esteem is a problem, and therefore for those who have that problem, improving self esteem could be beneficial.

But for those with average self esteem, trying to increase it may not be such a good idea since it may lead to overconfidence.


Quote:

There are some areas in which self-esteem appears to cause other good outcomes, but they are very focused and limited. I said "self-esteem movement", and intended to (i often say things I don't intend to. ;-) )

This is the usual reference. It's pretty accessible for lay people as well (not that you are one).

http://www.csom.umn.edu/Assets/71496.pdf

Here's his bio, which sums it up a little:

http://www.fsu.edu/profiles/baumeister/
Thank you for the links.

miceelf 11-19-2011 12:20 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 232193)
Oh, yes, I agree with all that.

The only "but" that comes to mind has to do with the studies that showed that low self esteem and low expectations can be associated with underachievement. So it seems that the deficit in self esteem is a problem, and therefore for those who have that problem, improving self esteem could be beneficial.

Yeah I know we have had disagreements about optimism/pessimism, but this wasn't intended to be related to that. And I was focused mainly on the self-esteem movement where it was the focus of intervention.

Self-esteem DOES help with persistence, which is an important part of school success. I think the trade off is removing it as a reward motivator.

I have done some research on expectations in a different context, and the trick is always self-fulfilling prophecy vs. realistic assessment of capabilities/likely outcomes.

Ocean 11-19-2011 12:37 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by miceelf (Post 232194)
Yeah I know we have had disagreements about optimism/pessimism, but this wasn't intended to be related to that. And I was focused mainly on the self-esteem movement where it was the focus of intervention.

Self-esteem DOES help with persistence, which is an important part of school success. I think the trade off is removing it as a reward motivator.

I have done some research on expectations in a different context, and the trick is always self-fulfilling prophecy vs. realistic assessment of capabilities/likely outcomes.

I'm not trying to revisit the optimism/pessimism topic at all.

I think this is at least one of the studies that I was thinking about before. It's about stereotypes, but I'm not sure how that would play differently if at all from plain self esteem.

I think we may have had a diavlog about this topic.

bjkeefe 11-19-2011 01:29 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 232188)
[...]

Of course, we all know that there are situations that completely overwhelm one's capacity for self control. Encountering dark chocolate is one of the most obvious, no?

Much easier than when it's milk chocolate!

Ocean 11-19-2011 01:39 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 232198)
Much easier than when it's milk chocolate!

No. Passing on milk chocolate is Lesson 1, Beginners level. Dark chocolate is the last requirement before graduation for Masters' Level. And I have never exaggerated in my life.

miceelf 11-19-2011 02:04 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 232200)
No. Passing on milk chocolate is Lesson 1, Beginners level. Dark chocolate is the last requirement before graduation for Masters' Level. And I have never exaggerated in my life.

Interesting. I like milk chocolate more. And white chocolate the most.

Ocean 11-19-2011 02:11 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by miceelf (Post 232201)
Interesting. I like milk chocolate more. And white chocolate the most.

Yikes! I don't think that white chocolate should be called chocolate at all. It's more like fat mixed with microquantities of chocolate flavorings.

But, looking at it from the bright side, we could have a good deal if we buy bulk quantities of mixed chocolates and then divide them up. We can start a buyer's coop.

Simon Willard 11-19-2011 03:16 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by miceelf (Post 232201)
... white chocolate ...

The ultimate oxymoron.

ohreally 11-19-2011 04:02 PM

Re: Cognitive Scientists vs. Grandmothers; Round I
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 232157)
I wonder if the cognitive sciences will ever find anything out that my grandmother didn't already know.

I had the same thought until I remembered that my grandmother had a skeptical disposition I've never encountered among cognitive scientists.

I read recently that "Brain scans of happy people show they respond more positively to their environment." Science never ceases to astonish me!

Not that I mind Grandmother Saturday (with Pinker as the ultimate grandma and the hair to prove it), but how about having a discussion of the Cern-San Grasso experiment? Think how much easier it would be to exercise self-control if we had superluminal bhtv!

miceelf 11-19-2011 04:23 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Simon Willard (Post 232208)
The ultimate oxymoron.

Tell that to Sandy Lyle!

http://movieclips.com/pQZjy-along-ca.../43.516/53.355

Wonderment 11-19-2011 04:50 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
What do you think about pathologies of self-control, like anorexia, and perhaps celibacy?

The idea that there's no downside to will power seemed questionable to me. I'd be more inclined to say that there's a tradeoff for high self-contol. In reflecting on my own life, I think with greater self-control I would have been more coventionally successful (more money and greater social status), but I doubt I would have been happier. Poor self control in some areas led to more risk, greater adventure and more enjoyment of life.

Also, the willpower depletion idea seems like a just so story. If the high self control person behaves positively, it confirms the theory. If not, she is just depleted."Depleted" Barack Obama sneaks a few cigarettes, and Bill Clinton goes all Monica Lewinsky. But we don't really need a "depletion" theory to explain those behaviors in rigidly self-disciplined individuals like Clinton and Obama.

Ocean 11-19-2011 07:37 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 232221)
What do you think about pathologies of self-control, like anorexia, and perhaps celibacy?

Anorexia is an extreme example of excessive control which ends up being loss of voluntary control since people with the most severe forms may die from it without being able to bring themselves to eating.

In terms of celibacy, you got me off guard. What kind of celibacy are you referring to?

Quote:

The idea that there's no downside to will power seemed questionable to me. I'd be more inclined to say that there's a tradeoff for high self-contol.
I think that Roy may make a preemptive claim by saying that self control is never excessive. He did mention the difference between self control and inhibitions. Self control is a voluntary conscious relinquishment of a desire which is deemed to be detrimental for whatever reason. Inhibitions are unconscious. Even if the person wants to bring himself or herself to fulfill his/her desire, it's extremely difficult or impossible. I think that this can get confused easily with self control. Or perhaps you refer to people who are so inclined to suppress their desires, that they narrow the scope of their life experience. They may live monotonous lives.

But regarding the latter, I mentioned in a previous post that temperament is also important for this discussion. How much novelty and risk taking someone needs in order to reach a state of satisfaction is essential. Some people can be very happy with very little, while others have by temperament or by self conditioning, got very high threshold for satisfaction.


Quote:

In reflecting on my own life, I think with greater self-control I would have been more coventionally successful (more money and greater social status), but I doubt I would have been happier. Poor self control in some areas led to more risk, greater adventure and more enjoyment of life.
I think there's more to those life choices than just self control. But even if so, in retrospect it's easy to rationalize your choices for the better or worse. Who determines what's "greater adventure" after all?

Quote:

Also, the willpower depletion idea seems like a just so story. If the high self control person behaves positively, it confirms the theory. If not, she is just depleted."Depleted" Barack Obama sneaks a few cigarettes, and Bill Clinton goes all Monica Lewinsky. But we don't really need a "depletion" theory to explain those behaviors in rigidly self-disciplined individuals like Clinton and Obama.
The willpower depletion comes from studies where people are subject to repeated experimental conditions that require self control in different kinds of areas and its based on measurements. You may look at this depletion as one among many factors that have an effect on behavior.

And I wouldn't bet on the math exercises to "warm up" your date either. She may walk out thinking you're a creepy nerd. ;)

Cincinnatus 11-19-2011 08:09 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sugarkang (Post 232162)
I love Joshua's new talking voice. It must be related to his new hairstyle, which must, in turn, be related to Pink Floyd and marijuana.


Dear Bloggingheads thread moderator: Why is that other people can comment on a diavlogger's aesthetic, as seen above, or as seen in comments about Fernholz's goofball glasses, but when I comment that Erica Grieder is hot, I get censored off the comment section?

graz 11-19-2011 08:25 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Cincinnatus (Post 232227)
Dear Bloggingheads thread moderator: Why is that other people can comment on a diavlogger's aesthetic, as seen above, or as seen in comments about Fernholz's goofball glasses, but when I comment that Erica Grieder is hot, I get censored off the comment section?

Speaking as a biased observer only (not a moderator): You've been undone by selective enforcement and a witness to AAW (Affirmative Action for Wingnuts). See badhat on Fernholz and his specs, in addition to Koch King on Knobe.

Not that I'm defending your remarks ... Just sayin' ... Try E-Harmony!

Wonderment 11-19-2011 08:30 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 232225)
Anorexia is an extreme example of excessive control which ends up being loss of voluntary control since people with the most severe forms may die from it without being able to bring themselves to eating.

In terms of celibacy, you got me off guard. What kind of celibacy are you referring to?

I was mostly thinking of the "disciplines" (self-control) of ascetics throughout history. Modern psychology has mostly viewed things like fasting, vows of chastity (no sexual relations, no masturbation) as quasi-pathological (suppressing and repressing desires). But maybe studies on self-control will show some side benefits, as Roy seems to suggest. By working the muscle of self-control through ritual, self-denial and stoicism, do you get "payoffs" in other aspects of life?

But obviously, excessive dieting (to achieve better health or a more attractive figure) can turn pathological and become anorexia or bulimia. If I understand the former correctly, it's a disorder of too much control of eating (can the refusal to eat really be described as "voluntary"?), while bulimia, at least in its binging-purging phase suggests a lack of self-control (gorge self, feel guilty, barf).

The best studies on fasting and celibacy are probably Kafka's short story "The Hunger Artist" and the Seinfeld episode, "The Contest."


The discussion also got me thinking about treatments for drug and alcohol (or any other) addiction. A cornerstone of the 12-step programs is if the addict can just abstain from substance or activity X "just for today" (exercise the self-control muscle), there will be many other side benefits in other aspects of life.

Quote:

But regarding the latter, I mentioned in a previous post that temperament is also important for this discussion. How much novelty and risk taking someone needs in order to reach a state of satisfaction is essential. Some people can be very happy with very little, while others have by temperament or by self conditioning, got very high threshold for satisfaction.
Yes, it also occurred to me that self-control is easy for some people and very difficult for others. This seems terribly obvious but often is overlooked in treatment and rehab. programs. Example: I had a friend, a juvenile court judge, who would cite with some pride his "tough love" for kids he had to sentence: "The boy came in here with his mom, and I told her I would violate his probation and send him back to the facility if he didn't get up every morning at 7 a.m. for school. His mother told me that he says he's too tired and can't get out of bed in the morning. But I said, 'I'm also tired and feel that I can't get out of bed every morning too. But I do it. That's reality. So can he.'"

I thought the judge's approach totally missed the obvious: that it wasn't equally difficult for all people to get themselves up in the morning. The kid was probably depressed and unmotivated, and exhausted for any number of other reasons. But the judge thought it was just a universal self-control issue: we're all equally "lazy" unless we really muster up some will power.

Quote:

I think there's more to those life choices than just self control. But even if so, in retrospect it's easy to rationalize your choices for the better or worse. Who determines what's "greater adventure" after all?
Yes, there's a huge subjective element. Also, one person's discipline can be another person's indulgence. Getting back to Presidents, depleted Bush would double down on self-control in his spare time by bike riding and running. Or was that (including "runner's high") a form of relinquishing control and being undisciplined? Nixon would get drunk by himself, which seems to be the polar opposite of control. But subjectively, who knows? Maybe he was exerting tremendous control not to have more than three drinks and not give in to his desire to run naked on the White House lawn or drop an H-bomb on Havana.

Quote:

The willpower depletion comes from studies where people are subject to repeated experimental conditions that require self control in different kinds of areas and its based on measurements. You may look at this depletion as one among many factors that have an effect on behavior.
Right, one of many factors. The problem with pitching a book on the subject is the temptation to claim WP explains Everything. I hope Roy exerts sufficient self-control to resist that urge.

Cincinnatus 11-19-2011 08:35 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by graz (Post 232229)
Speaking as a biased observer only (not a moderator): You've been undone by selective enforcement and a witness to AAW (Affirmative Action for Wingnuts). See badhat on Fernholz and his specs, in addition to Koch King on Knobe.

Not that I'm defending your remarks ... Just sayin' ... Try E-Harmony!

I'm not interested in your opinion. I want to hear from an official bloggingheads representative on where the line is drawn.

miceelf 11-19-2011 08:48 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 232230)
But obviously, excessive dieting (to achieve better health or a more attractive figure) can turn pathological and become anorexia or bulimia. If I understand the former correctly, it's a disorder of too much control of eating (can the refusal to eat really be described as "voluntary"?), while bulimia, at least in its binging-purging phase suggests a lack of self-control (gorge self, feel guilty, barf).

I wonder if we are doing to self-control what I have been accused of doing to optimism. Baumeister is not probably talking about pathological inhibition, although I guess one could frame it as an extreme version of self-control.

As to whether sexual or food fasts are healthy- having done both, I think a great deal depends on the motivations for doing them, which can be healthy or not.

Anorexia. I always kind of took that to be a disorder of anxiety, rather than control. Knowing people IRL who struggle with eating disorders (not professionally), their experience of it always kind of struck me as similar to that of poeple with OCD. Often they knew that there was something wrong, and they didn't WANT to restrict their eating. But eating produced so much anxiety, it was just intolerable. If anything, one could frame it as a problem of too little self-control, although that's probably a stretch. I think anxiety is the thing- like pathological exercise or repitition compulsions of any kind, I really think it's more about being unable to manage the anxiety more than too much control. At least for the subset who want to eat normally, but can't bring themselves to.

Sexual fasting- I wonder if there's any evidence out there. People often assume that premarital abstinence makes cheating in the context of marraige less likely. I dunno. It would seem (again, this is speculation) that extreme disinhibition in the sexual domain would make it hard to restrict onesself later on.

graz 11-19-2011 08:50 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Cincinnatus (Post 232232)
I'm not interested in your opinion. I want to hear from an official bloggingheads representative on where the line is drawn.

http://www.nndb.com/people/833/00010...cinnatus-1.jpg You look so much "bustier" in the first depiction ... Really hot!

http://symonsez.files.wordpress.com/...incinnatus.jpg

Cincinnatus 11-19-2011 08:56 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by graz (Post 232234)

You said, "hot". I'm telling Bob.

Ocean 11-19-2011 09:46 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 232230)
I was mostly thinking of the "disciplines" (self-control) of ascetics throughout history. Modern psychology has mostly viewed things like fasting, vows of chastity (no sexual relations, no masturbation) as quasi-pathological (suppressing and repressing desires). But maybe studies on self-control will show some side benefits, as Roy seems to suggest. By working the muscle of self-control through ritual, self-denial and stoicism, do you get "payoffs" in other aspects of life?

I can't say much about asceticism, except that the idea behind it is not generalizable to our everyday lives. Extreme discipline and deprivation seems to serve the purpose of directing one's drive towards other psychological activity. For most people it would be a disaster, but perhaps there are some for whom it serves a purpose. I guess they have the temperament that tolerates high levels of deprivation.

Quote:

But obviously, excessive dieting (to achieve better health or a more attractive figure) can turn pathological and become anorexia or bulimia. If I understand the former correctly, it's a disorder of too much control of eating (can the refusal to eat really be described as "voluntary"?), while bulimia, at least in its binging-purging phase suggests a lack of self-control (gorge self, feel guilty, barf).
Yes, it is understood that in anorexia there's a component of control, although what miceelf states about eating creating massive anxiety is also true. Anorectics (the severe kind) have very peculiar personalities. They tend to be perfectionistic, disciplined in various ways, have a somewhat rigid personality, lack of emotional expression and many have a history of childhood abuse or neglect, often by virtue of very demanding parents.

Bulimia has a wider spectrum and the dynamics are not as peculiar.


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The discussion also got me thinking about treatments for drug and alcohol (or any other) addiction. A cornerstone of the 12-step programs is if the addict can just abstain from substance or activity X "just for today" (exercise the self-control muscle), there will be many other side benefits in other aspects of life.
Addictions are by definition loss of self control. The problem is that many people think they still have control when in fact they don't. AA and other 12-step approaches to addictions got this right, the first step is to acknowledge that one has lost control over the addiction.

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Yes, it also occurred to me that self-control is easy for some people and very difficult for others. This seems terribly obvious but often is overlooked in treatment and rehab. programs. Example: I had a friend, a juvenile court judge, who would cite with some pride his "tough love" for kids he had to sentence: "The boy came in here with his mom, and I told her I would violate his probation and send him back to the facility if he didn't get up every morning at 7 a.m. for school. His mother told me that he says he's too tired and can't get out of bed in the morning. But I said, 'I'm also tired and feel that I can't get out of bed every morning too. But I do it. That's reality. So can he.'"

I thought the judge's approach totally missed the obvious: that it wasn't equally difficult for all people to get themselves up in the morning. The kid was probably depressed and unmotivated, and exhausted for any number of other reasons. But the judge thought it was just a universal self-control issue: we're all equally "lazy" unless we really muster up some will power.
Yes, you're right that the judge oversimplified the issue. However, the judge may be in the role of reality testing for the youngster and his mother. People sometimes have to do what they are expected to do even if they don't feel like it, or accept the consequences. Here's where consequences can serve as a motivator. The key is to know when the trick will work and when it's an unrealistic expectation.

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Yes, there's a huge subjective element. Also, one person's discipline can be another person's indulgence. Getting back to Presidents, depleted Bush would double down on self-control in his spare time by bike riding and running. Or was that (including "runner's high") a form of relinquishing control and being undisciplined? Nixon would get drunk by himself, which seems to be the polar opposite of control. But subjectively, who knows? Maybe he was exerting tremendous control not to have more than three drinks and not give in to his desire to run naked on the White House lawn or drop an H-bomb on Havana.
I wouldn't put the above in terms of control. These presidents are choosing to do something that relaxes them and doesn't require psychological effort. Whether it's exercising or drinking, those are just means to the end of relaxing and escaping from their daily tension.

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Right, one of many factors. The problem with pitching a book on the subject is the temptation to claim WP explains Everything. I hope Roy exerts sufficient self-control to resist that urge.
I had the impression that Roy wasn't trying to put everything in terms of control. He just thinks that self control is an important tool and that people who are good at it end up having better lives because they can shape their destinies better. I didn't notice any excessive claims in his account.

Ocean 11-19-2011 10:00 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by miceelf (Post 232233)
I wonder if we are doing to self-control what I have been accused of doing to optimism. Baumeister is not probably talking about pathological inhibition, although I guess one could frame it as an extreme version of self-control.

Yes, he clarified that he wasn't talking about inhibition.

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As to whether sexual or food fasts are healthy- having done both, I think a great deal depends on the motivations for doing them, which can be healthy or not.
I can't speak to any of those, not having ever found a good reason for fasting except to have a darn blood test or some procedure that requires anesthesia the next morning. And I'm lousy at it.

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Anorexia. I always kind of took that to be a disorder of anxiety, rather than control. Knowing people IRL who struggle with eating disorders (not professionally), their experience of it always kind of struck me as similar to that of poeple with OCD. Often they knew that there was something wrong, and they didn't WANT to restrict their eating. But eating produced so much anxiety, it was just intolerable. If anything, one could frame it as a problem of too little self-control, although that's probably a stretch. I think anxiety is the thing- like pathological exercise or repitition compulsions of any kind, I really think it's more about being unable to manage the anxiety more than too much control. At least for the subset who want to eat normally, but can't bring themselves to.
Yes, but control and discipline are used to counteract anxiety. It isn't about too little self control except in the binging phase of bulimia. Obsessive thought are controlled by engaging in compulsions. The fear of losing control and the reassurance of engaging in an activity that can restore control are central to this dynamic.

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Sexual fasting- I wonder if there's any evidence out there. People often assume that premarital abstinence makes cheating in the context of marraige less likely. I dunno. It would seem (again, this is speculation) that extreme disinhibition in the sexual domain would make it hard to restrict onesself later on.
People who are very inhibited may do okay with abstinence, but my impression is that a healthy sexual life with a significant number of partners sometimes is necessary for the person to satiate sexual curiosity, establish his or her own preferences and move on reassured to a monogamous long term relationship.

Extreme disinhibition (as you say) and excessive exploration of the limits of sexuality may have a side effect of raising the threshold for arousal and satisfaction. It's seen in sexual addictions.

harkin 11-19-2011 10:22 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
I agree with Roy and miceelf on the self-esteem movement.

I even think 'self-esteem' has been so mishandled that the term is a joke. Self-respect can not be bestowed (when it is declared as such, I now think of it as self-esteem). It must be earned, otherwise it is air.


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Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 232221)
What do you think about pathologies of self-control, like anorexia, and perhaps celibacy?

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Originally Posted by miceelf
Anorexia. I always kind of took that to be a disorder of anxiety, rather than control.

Regarding anorexia, forced purging is a weakness, not an issue of self control.

Quote:

Originally Posted by graz (Post 232234)



Was I the only one thinking...

http://img708.imageshack.us/img708/9...incinnatus.jpg

harkin 11-19-2011 10:46 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Cincinnatus (Post 232227)
Dear Bloggingheads thread moderator: Why is that other people can comment on a diavlogger's aesthetic, as seen above, or as seen in comments about Fernholz's goofball glasses, but when I comment that Erica Grieder is hot, I get censored off the comment section?

I disagee that comments on Knobe's articulation are purely one of aesthetic, as being able to understand what someone is saying is a function of having a good dialogue. Glenn Loury's early dialogues where his earpiece volume was causing distracting feedback is another example. Fernholz's incredibly lame eyewear on the other hand is just a reflection of his political views.

And no matter what you said about E Grieder, it couldn't have been as uncomfortable a moment as Matt Lewis' mentioning masturbation to Kristen Soltis, the only thing missing from her reaction was a crickets wav file.

JonIrenicus 11-19-2011 11:19 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 232230)
...
Yes, it also occurred to me that self-control is easy for some people and very difficult for others. This seems terribly obvious but often is overlooked in treatment and rehab. programs. Example: I had a friend, a juvenile court judge, who would cite with some pride his "tough love" for kids he had to sentence: "The boy came in here with his mom, and I told her I would violate his probation and send him back to the facility if he didn't get up every morning at 7 a.m. for school. His mother told me that he says he's too tired and can't get out of bed in the morning. But I said, 'I'm also tired and feel that I can't get out of bed every morning too. But I do it. That's reality. So can he.'"

I thought the judge's approach totally missed the obvious: that it wasn't equally difficult for all people to get themselves up in the morning. The kid was probably depressed and unmotivated, and exhausted for any number of other reasons. But the judge thought it was just a universal self-control issue: we're all equally "lazy" unless we really muster up some will power.

...


Much like intelligence/aptitude, willpower is not something everyone has in equal measure, the difference is that our current capacity to adjust the latter is much stronger. In that example above it would be unreasonable to ask him to muster enough willpower to run a 20 mile marathon, he does not have the conditioning for it and he'd be doomed to failure.

Now some people are probably so far gone that even the most trivial acts of self control to us are monumental efforts, so do we adjust the bar to cross into the gutter where their standards are? I think this is where one of those tiger mom strategies would be more effective, or drugs.

Ocean 11-19-2011 11:33 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Exercising Self-Control (Joshua Knobe & Roy Baumeister)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by harkin (Post 232241)
Regarding anorexia, forced purging is a weakness, not an issue of self control.

We've been talking about anorexia (eating very little) mostly. At the beginning of the illness, restricting calories to the degree that's done in anorexia requires great discipline and control. Food becomes an enemy in the anorectic's mind. This in turn creates great anxiety as food is both wanted and feared. Overtime, the wanting decreases and the fear persists. In the worst cases, this pattern continues unchanged until the person dies of malnourishment.


Bulimia (the problem that includes purging) is quite different. I don't know what you mean by "weakness", but purging has the purpose of undoing binging. Lack of self control is manifested by overeating in binges, followed by an attempt to undo or compensate by purging.


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