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A Hot/Cool-System Analysis of Delay of Gratification: Dynamics of Willpower

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A 2-system framework is proposed for understanding the processes that enable--and undermine--self-control or "willpower" as exemplified in the delay of gratification paradigm. A cool, cognitive "know" system and a hot, emotional "go" system are postulated. The cool system is cognitive, emotionally neutral, contemplative, flexible, integrated, coherent, spatiotemporal, slow, episodic, and strategic. It is the seat of self-regulation and self-control. The hot system is the basis of emotionality, fears as well as passions--impulsive and reflexive--initially controlled by innate releasing stimuli (and, thus, literally under "stimulus control"): it is fundamental for emotional (classical) conditioning and undermines efforts at self-control. The balance between the hot and cool systems is determined by stress, developmental level, and the individual's self-regulatory dynamics. The interactions between these systems allow explanation of findings on willpower from 3 decades of research.
... Other developmental researchers have argued that there should be greater consideration of emotional processes within a framework of self-regulation (Cole et al., 2004;Eisenberg et al., 2001;Lewis & Stieben, 2004;Mischel & Ayduk, 2004). Consequently, considerable work has examined self-regulation as a regulatory system that involves distinct "hot" (i.e., motivationally or affectively mediated) and "cool" (i.e., cognitively mediated) processes (Backer-Grøndahl et al., 2019;Bechara et al., 1994;Cameron Ponitz et al., 2008;Denham et al., 2012;Metcalfe & Mischel, 1999;Simpson & Carroll, 2019;Willoughby et al., 2011). For instance, some factor analysis research has demonstrated that tasks designed to assess the inhibitory control aspect of self-regulation-the ability to inhibit responses to irrelevant stimuli in pursuit of a cognitively represented goal-load onto separate latent "hot" and "cool" factors (Bridgett et al., 2015;Carlson & Moses, 2001;Murray & Kochanska, 2002;Simpson & Carroll, 2019). ...
... Cognitive regulatory processes include, for instance, sustained attention (i.e., the ability to maintain focus on a given task over prolonged periods), inhibitory control, and higher-order executive functions. Affective regulatory processes include, for instance, the ability to delay gratification (i.e., the ability to resist temptation in favor of long-term goals) and regulate emotions (Bridgett et al., 2015;Gagne et al., 2021;Metcalfe & Mischel, 1999). ...
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Self‐regulation is thought to show heterotypic continuity—its individual differences endure but its behavioral manifestations change across development. Thus, different measures across time may be necessary to account for heterotypic continuity of self‐regulation. This longitudinal study examined children's (N = 108) self‐regulation development using 17 measures, including 15 performance‐based measures, two questionnaires, and three raters across seven timepoints. It is the first to use different measures of self‐regulation over time to account for heterotypic continuity while using developmental scaling to link the measures onto the same scale for more accurate growth estimates. Assessed facets included inhibitory control, delayed gratification, sustained attention, and executive functions. Some measures differed across ages to retain construct validity and account for heterotypic continuity. A Bayesian longitudinal mixed model for developmental scaling was developed to link the differing measures onto the same scale. This allowed charting children's self‐regulation growth across ages 3–7 years and relating it to both predictors and outcomes. Rapid growth occurred from ages 3–6. As a validation of the developmental scaling approach, greater self‐regulation was associated with better school readiness (math and reading skills) and fewer externalizing problems. Our multi‐wave, multi‐facet, multi‐method, multi‐measure, multi‐rater, developmental scaling approach is the most comprehensive to date for assessing the development of self‐regulation. This approach demonstrates that developmental scaling may enable studying development of self‐regulation across the lifespan. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
... (Zelazo & Müller, 2002). La distinction FE chaude et FE froide est analogue à certains égards à la distinction Hot/Cool de Metcalfe et Mischel (1999), bien qu'il y ait une différence cruciale : dans leur cadre conceptuel, les processus chauds ne sont pas des processus de la FE, mais plutôt des influences émotionnelles de type bottom up (du bas vers le haut) sur le comportement (e.g., associées aux amygdales). ...
... Les enfants sont enclins à faire attention à des aspects hautement saillants des objets ou des événements, bien souvent trompeurs (Carlson & Zelazo, 2008 ;DeLoache, 1987). Par substitution de symboles aux référents, cependant, les enfants peuvent réduire la saillance (i.e., l'intensité prégnante 46 ) de ces derniers ; ceci les libère ainsi d'une tendance à répondre d'une façon conduite par le stimulus, de type bottom up (Metcalfe & Mischel, 1999). De plus, les symboles (y compris les artefacts mais aussi les labels verbaux et les pensées) peuvent aussi diriger l'attention de l'enfant vers des aspects de la situation actuelle non remarqués antérieurement, les aidant à réfléchir sur ladite situation et à se comporter avec plus de souplesse. ...
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Nous présentons ici la traduction d’un texte sur les aspects développementaux de la fonction exécutive chez les enfants typiques et atypiques. Il s’agit d’une synthèse, assez unique en son genre. En effet, s’appuyant sur l’expérience clinique et la recherche (plus de 400 références expérimentales), elle privilégie une approche qui intègre la multiplicité des niveaux d’analyse en abordant notamment les phénomènes de la plasticité cérébrale et les influences multiples intervenant dans le développement des fonctions exécutives. Les auteurs abordent également les influences dynamiques réciproques des processus et des contextes (notamment familial et scolaire), sans oublier les implications possibles dans le domaine de l’éducation. Ce chapitre, rédigé par des chercheurs de pointe en psychologie du développement, présente donc un intérêt majeur pour les professionnels de l’enfance, pédopsychiatres, pédiatres, psychologues et neuropsychologues, rééducateurs (psychomotriciens, orthophonistes, ergothérapeutes ou thérapeutes occupationnels), infirmiers, éducateurs et enseignants (voire les parents informés). Mais ces aspects de la trajectoire développementale jettent un éclairage singulier sur la psychopathologie adulte, ce qui n’est pas sans intérêt pour la psychiatrie. Comme le rappelait encore tout récemment Adele Diamond (2016), les fonctions exécutives sont des facteurs clés qui prédisent la réussite à l’école et la réussite professionnelle, bien mieux que le QI : la prise en compte de la trajectoire développementale des composantes de la fonction exécutive d’un individu permettra de spécifier et d’optimiser les thérapeutiques, de favoriser une prévention optimale des troubles psychosociaux psychiatriques et développementaux, d’assurer une meilleure qualité des apprentissages réalisés par les enfants. Par ailleurs, de plus en plus d’équipes oeuvrent au développement de techniques et de programmes de remédiation cognitive, susceptibles de promouvoir le rétablissement (Franck, 2016 ; Giraud-Barod & Roussel, 2012) des patients en souffrance psychique. Ces programmes validés ne sont pas des procédures standard d’application indifférenciée mais doivent s’accorder avec les attentes, les points forts et les faiblesses du sujet qui s’y engage et vis-à-vis du contexte dans lequel il vit. Il s’agit de rendre au patient la capacité d’agir, d’être et de trouver un équilibre physique et mental dans son milieu. « Les techniques de remédiation cognitive ont pris une place centrale, incontournable au sein des techniques classiques de réhabilitation psychosociale » (Giraud-Baro & Roussel, 2012). Elles visent des processus neuropsychologiques extrêmement subtils et notamment les fonctions exécutives, indispensables à la réalisation des comportements adaptés aux situations nouvelles. Elles sous-tendent la capacité de se reconnaître être humain à part entière parmi les autres, doté et responsable d’un réel pouvoir de compréhension, de décision, d’action et d’échange. Un des premiers programmes est le CRT, pour Cognitive Remediation Therapy ou thérapie par remédiation cognitive, dont les versions initiales australiennes cherchaient à lutter contre les conséquences délétères des lésions cérébrales chez l’enfant (Frontal/executive program, Delahunty et al., 1993). Développé par T. Wykes et C. Reeder en Grande-Bretagne dans le domaine de la schizophrénie (2002), il a été traduit et validé en français par l’équipe du Professeur Nicolas Franck (2009). Depuis, l’alliance de cliniciens et de chercheurs permet d’adapter ou d’utiliser ce programme (et bien d’autres), de type crayon-papier, avec des enfants ou des adolescents présentant un TSA, un TDA/H, un trouble des apprentissages non verbaux, du contrôle de soi, des troubles des conduites ou une anorexie (i.e., Doyen, 20127 ; Doyen et al., 2015 ; Lapasset et al., 2013). De nouveaux programmes sont en cours de développement, y compris dans le cadre d’une déficience intellectuelle et peuvent combiner les approches informatisée et crayon papier (Cognitus et moi, Demily et al., 2016), mais tous tirent profit de l’affinement des connaissances sur la nature et le rôle des fonctions exécutives, y compris dans le domaine des relations sociales et affectives. Bien qu’il y ait un intérêt considérable pour ces dernières et de nombreuses recherches, nous ne disposions d’aucune synthèse complète en langue française, notamment sur le développement du fonctionnement exécutif et les facteurs qui l’influencent. Nous remercions donc le professeur Nicolas Franck de nous avoir permis de collaborer pour réviser la première traduction de Jérôme Alain Lapasset (psychomotricien en pédopsychiatrie après l’avoir été en psychiatrie, et praticien en remédiation cognitive) du chapitre des professeurs Stephanie Carlson, Philip David Zelazo et Susan Faja. Au fur et à mesure, nous est apparue la portée de l’enjeu. Comprendre le développement (typique et atypique) des fonctions exécutives depuis les stades les plus primaires, où elles ne sont encore qu’un concept unitaire, à l’adolescence, en suivant leurs différenciations et leurs spécifications, ouvre bien des perspectives quant à la prévention et la réhabilitation des troubles psychiatriques et autres conditions singulières. Tout homme, et le sens de soi, étant le fruit de ses expériences, de ses capacités d’adaptation et d’intégration, il est heureux que nous commencions à disposer d’éléments fiables susceptibles de déboucher sur de nouveaux modèles de la santé et de soins, liant la réhabilitation avec les dispositifs médicaux sociaux psychiatriques dont la pédopsychiatrie. En conséquence, nous mettons à la disposition de nos collègues francophones, et des étudiants, une traduction de cette synthèse remarquable.
... In these circumstances, cues can instigate pathological reward seeking in disorders determined by co-occurrence of dysfunctional inhibitory processes and Martino Schettino and Ilenia Ceccarelli contributed equally to this work. strongly triggered impulses (Hofmann et al., 2009;Metcalfe & Mischel, 1999), such as in compulsive eating, gambling, hypersexuality, and drug use. ...
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Pavlovian conditioning holds the potential to incentivize environmental cues, leading to approach behavior toward them, even outside our awareness. Animal models suggest that this is particularly true for the so-called sign-tracker (ST) phenotype, which is considered to reflect a predisposition toward developing addiction-related behaviours. Despite its potential clinical relevance, few studies have demonstrated the translational validity of this model, likely due to difficulties in studying Pav-lovian processes in humans. To fill this gap, we combined an ecological momentary assessment with ambulatory peripheral autonomic monitoring to test the hypothesis that traits associated with ST in preclinical studies would be associated with attribution of high incentive salience to reward-related cues. Several times for 2 days, participants were asked to rate the attractiveness of several preselected ecological rewards (e.g., coffee) and the preceding cues (the smell of coffee) while their electrocardiogram was recorded. While no absolute difference in subjective and physiological measures of motivational approach to daily cues compared with rewards emerged, individuals with high levels of impulsivity, obsessive-compulsive, and addiction-prone behaviors rated as more attractive and showed a greater increase in sympathetic arousal to cues versus rewards. The opposite pattern emerged for those with low levels in those dispositional traits, who responded more (both subjectively and physiologically) to rewards compared with their preceding cues. This study represents an attempt to answer the call to parcel complex behaviors into smaller constructs, improving the early detection of those who are vulnerable to develop psychopathological disorders, particularly in the domain of impulse control such as addiction.
... Besides, being more skilled at the delay of gratification and selfregulation predicts better adult adjustment as well as a better performance at school, higher self-worth, the ability to cope with stress, and lower drug use (Ayduk et al., 2000). On the other hand, the costs of failure in selfregulation range from crime and teen pregnancy to alcoholism and drug addiction, to domestic violence, and even academic failure (Metcalfe and Mischel, 1999). Considering these negative outcomes, examining selfregulation, impulse control, and delay of gratification in early development is crucial. ...
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