Self Regulation – The Key to Control


Introduction – Definitions of Self Regulation

Self-regulation refers to our ability to organize and monitor our own behavior.

It is being able to control our thoughts, feelings and actions for our benefit.

According to APA , Self Regulation is – the control of one’s behavior through the use of self-monitoring (keeping a record of behavior), self-evaluation (assessing the information obtained during self-monitoring), and self-reinforcement (rewarding oneself for appropriate behavior or for attaining a goal).

It is an important aspect studied under ‘Self Concept’.

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Role of Self Regulation

We must take care that our behavior should not disturb our college  atmosphere, and our relationship with others. Hence, when you regulate yourself, you will not react impulsively or you will stop or control yourself from immediate satisfaction of desire.

Self regulation involves monitoring our actions and reactions because we can predict or imagine the consequences. In fact, it also involves focusing on certain parts of life and ignoring some other part for some time.

For example, As your exams are nearing, you will stop spending time with your friends and focus on your studies.

Higgins, (1996) research on regulatory focus shows that people either have promotion regulatory focus or prevention regulatory focus. Thus, people either focus on achieving positive outcomes or they don’t do anything in order to prevent negative outcome.

People from East Asian culture tend to focus on preventive form of self regulation, attempting to avoid negative reactions from others (Hamamura and Heine, 2008) Therefore,that may mean that we all study because we don’t want scolding and taunts from our parents, relatives and friends.

Self regulation has crucial implication in our life and our brains are evolved that way.

Heatherton (2011) identifies important psychological components that helps us to stay socially connected.

First, we must be aware of our actions and at least be able to evaluate it.

Secondly, we must be able to predict other’s reaction to it. Here, we are aware of what others will think, this capacity develops during childhood.

Third, we must detect any kind of threat or rejection from others.

Finally, we must do something constructive to improve the situation. Such as establishing good relations with others. Here we have control over our actions, control over acting on our impulse and even avoid nasty thoughts, which is not at all easy.

Self Control and techniques to boost it

Learning to delay or defer the gratification of needs is called self-control. Self-control plays a key role in the fulfillment of long-term goals.

For example, Indian cultural tradition provides us with certain effective mechanisms (e.g., fasting in vrata or roza and non-attachment with worldly things) for developing self-control.

A number of psychological techniques of self-control have also been suggested. Observation of own behavior is one of them. This provides us with necessary information that may be used to change or modify certain aspects of self. In addition, it helps in strengthening them, too.

Self-instruction is another important technique. We often instruct ourselves to  do something and behave the way we want to. Such instructions are quite effective in self-regulation.

Self-reinforcement is the third technique. This involves rewarding behaviors that have pleasant outcomes. For example, you may go to see a movie with friends, if you have done well in an examination.

Moreover, these techniques have been tried out and found quite effective with respect to self-regulation and self-control.

Factors affecting Self Regulation

According to Bandura, there are different types of factors influencing our self regulation. Internal and External factors

Internal Factors include –

  • Self – observation
  • Judgmental Process
  • Self Reaction

External factors include –

  • Societal standards
  • External Reinforcement

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  • Baron, R. A. and Byrne, D. (1997). Social Psychology, 8th edition. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
  • Maharashtra State Bureau of Textbook Production and Curriculum Research, Pune.
  • National Council of Educational Research and Training

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