Monday, March 07, 2011

The significance of self control.

We can't have our cake and eat it too, and every major religious tradition advocates forsaking pleasure in the moment to realize greater, deferred rewards. A recent study by Moffitt et al. statistically controls for the potential confounds of intelligence and family background in examining life outcomes in a large, nationally representative sample of New Zealanders. From their abstract: self-control important for the health, wealth, and public safety of the population? Following a cohort of 1,000 children from birth to the age of 32 y, we show that childhood self-control predicts physical health, substance dependence, personal finances, and criminal offending outcomes, following a gradient of self-control. Effects of children's self-control could be disentangled from their intelligence and social class as well as from mistakes they made as adolescents. In another cohort of 500 sibling-pairs, the sibling with lower self-control had poorer outcomes, despite shared family background. Interventions addressing self-control might reduce a panoply of societal costs, save taxpayers money, and promote prosperity.

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