ArticlePDF Available

From Habits to Self-Regulation: How Do We Change?

Authors:

Abstract

The Yale Cognitive Science department hosted the conference "From Habits to Self-Regulation: How Do We Change?" on November 4 and 5, 2011, to showcase current research on self-control in cognitive science, psychology, and neuroscience. The conference included a panel discussion by four philosophers who gave context for the scope and limitations of research on self-control. The common theme concerning the best method to attain lasting change included becoming aware of what one wants to change, increasing commitment to the goal of change, and imagining all of the potential problems and solutions to those problems.
293
(!&# !!!(  66
56>71/09@
$("!$&
! #"# $#  % 

)7521)4-881
Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
%0-()2-5/4191;-$+1-4+-,-6)793-490589-,90-+54.-7-4+-A753)*19895$-2.#-/:
2)91545<5 '-0)4/-B54 5;-3*-7)4,95805<+)8-+:77-497-8-)7+0
548-2.+54975214+5/4191;-8+1-4+-68>+0525/>)4,4-:758+1-4+-%0-+54.-7-4+-14+2:,-,
)6)4-2,18+:88154*>.5:7601258560-78<05/);-+549-=9.5790-8+56-)4,21319)915485.
7-8-)7+0548-2.+549752%0-+5335490-3-+54+-7414/90-*-893-905,95)99)142)8914/
+0)4/-14+2:,-,*-+5314/)<)7-5.<0)954-<)49895+0)4/-14+7-)814/+533193-4995
90-/5)25.+0)4/-)4,13)/1414/)225.90-659-491)2675*2-38)4,852:91548959058-675*
2-38

How do we change? This is an essen-
tial question for individuals who may have
gotten into bad habits such as overeating,
not getting enough exercise, addiction, and
depression, all of which could potentially
be changed through self-control. Yale’s
Tamar Gendler (Cognitive Science Chair
and Philosophy) and Hedy Kober (Psychi-
atry) organized the conference “From
Habits to Self-Regulation: How Do We
Change?” at Yale University on November
4 and 5, 2011. Twenty-two professors from
diverse institutions and affiliations dis-
cussed current research into why and how
we control ourselves.
Self-control is defined as acting in a
manner consistent with global goals and
values in the face of smaller, proximal re-
wards when these are in conflict [1]. A di-
eter faced with a cupcake is one example
of a good situation to exercise self-control.
The conference featured research on a va-
%5<053)22+577-8654,-4+-805:2,*-),,7-88-,)7521)4-88149-7,-6)793-49)2
-:758+1-4+-"75/7)3$"!5= -<);-4%3)12
+)752/1)4-881>)2--,:
?**7-;1)91548!*255,5=>/-4)91542-;-2,-6-4,-49
-><57,88-2.+549752,-2)>-,,18+5:4914//:)4.)+14-7:314)9154314,.:24-8867-
.7549)2+579-=8971)9:33-49)2+5497)8914/
Gianessi: Neuroscience of self-control
294
riety of topics related to self-control, in-
cluding delay discounting, psychiatric dis-
orders, dieting, drug addiction, and
schoolwork. Dialog was encouraged across
disciplines, and the conference featured a
panel of philosophers including Tamar
Gendler, Hedy Kober and Matthew Noah
Smith from Yale, Rae Langton from MIT,
and J. David Velleman from New York Uni-
versity, who discussed the philosophical
context for research on self control. This re-
port summarizes the opinions and findings
of the following speakers: Walter Mischel
from Columbia; Daeyeol Lee and Susan
Nolen-Hoeksema from Yale; Richard
Holton from MIT; Angela Duckworth from
the University of Pennsylvania; and Kentaro
Fujita from Ohio State University.

Walter Mischel from Columbia Univer-
sity was the keynote speaker because his fa-
mous marshmallow experiment is the
keystone of the entire field. In this experi-
ment, 4-year-old children were given the op-
tion to eat one marshmallow right away or
wait 15 minutes for two marshmallows. The
children who were able to wait for the two
marshmallows had significantly higher SAT
scores 10 years later [2]. Mischel’s research
characterized the power of the situation and
the ability of an individual to change its im-
pact on his or her behavior. Imagining a pic-
ture frame around the marshmallow enabled
one child to wait for the two marshmallows,
because “you can’t eat a picture!” [2]. Dis-
covering effective cognitive strategies like
this is the goal of research on self-control.
How can we self-regulate to optimize life
success?
This marshmallow experiment finding
generalizes to other rewards, including
money. Economic theory predicts rational
agents who would always prefer $100 in 1
week rather than $10 right now, though ex-
perimental psychology evidence suggests
that humans tend to choose concrete imme-
diate rewards over abstract remote ones [1].
Neuroeconomics studies this type of decision
by modeling delay discounting, the recalcu-
lation of value based on the expected length
of delay and the expected size of reward in
order to directly compare the outcomes. For
example, perhaps two marshmallows in 15
minutes is subjectively equivalent to half a
marshmallow right now, so the choice is
made to take the immediate single marsh-
mallow.
Neuroeconomics theorizes that there is a
dual process to decision-making: model-free
versus model-based learning algorithms.
Model-free refers to habits, well-practiced re-
flexive patterns that do not require attention,
like tying your shoe or driving your automatic
route home. Model-based means decision-
making directed at a goal that reflects on the
value of action outcomes, like playing a strat-
egy game. This terminology stems from
thinking about how the brain is like a com-
puter, where a model approximates how the
world works and then is refined through com-
parisons to experience. Model-free decision
processes involve simpler computations and
are optimal under situations of certainty. Daw
and colleagues in their 2005 theoretical paper
[3] have postulated that these dual processes
are anatomically localized in the human
brain, model-free to the striatum and model-
based to the prefrontal cortex, which compete
for control of behavioral responses. Prefrontal
cortex has largely expanded in primates and
is commonly thought to be involved in exec-
utive functions like planning, verbal reason-
ing, and problem solving. The striatum is an
evolutionarily conserved brain structure that
is commonly associated with controlling
complex motor patterns. Self-control aimed
at changing a bad habit would utilize goal-di-
rected or model-based learning algorithms
and prefrontal cortex in this theoretical frame-
work.
Experiments in neuroeconomics use
the intertemporal choice task, where delay
discounted values of options are estimated
by varying the size of reward and length of
the wait, and measuring brain activity re-
lated to decision-making. Daeyeol Lee of
the Interdepartmental Neuroscience Pro-
gram at Yale presented his research on the
neural basis of delay discounting using
electrophysiological recordings of individ-
Gianessi: Neuroscience of self-control 295
ual neurons in monkeys. Electrical activity
of neurons in lateral prefrontal cortex neu-
rons and in the caudate nucleus of the stria-
tum reflects the calculation of the
difference between discounted values of
outcomes [4,5]. Lee argues that since the
time course of this information is the same
in the striatum and the prefrontal cortex
that these structures do not compete, but
rather function as an iterative loop during
decision-making. Further studies charac-
terizing individual differences in the
propensity to wait and what neural corre-
lates exist for shifting between strategies in
decision-making are forthcoming.
Lee has found that choice behavior in
delay discounting is best modeled by a hy-
perbolic function [4]. An individual with
strong self-control would prefer the delayed
larger reward across more situations, and
their discounting function would conse-
quently approach a flat line. Individuals
with addiction, bipolar disorder, schizo-
phrenia, or attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder all share steeper discounting func-
tions, shifted the opposite direction toward
preferring the immediate smaller reward
[6,7]. Delay discounting is one experimen-
tal technique used to discover rational ther-
apies for these disorders.
A variation of the standard intertem-
poral choice paradigm introduces risk into
the decision by adding uncertainty as to
whether the delayed large reward would be
awarded. Adding risk to the delayed reward
increases the use of model-free learning al-
gorithms and consequently pushes the dis-
counting function toward preferring the
smaller immediate certain reward over the
larger later uncertain reward [4]. This tech-
nique was used to show the efficacy of
guanfacine (trade name Intuniv), a drug
used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder [8]. Guanfacine is an agonist of
the alpha-2A subtype of the norepinephrine
receptor, a rational treatment based on cur-
rent theory of the molecular basis of work-
ing memory [9]. Acute treatment with
guanfacine shifts delay discounting func-
tion toward preference for the larger later
reward in the standard procedure, but does
not change preference for risk in the uncer-
tain version of the task [8]. Therapeutic
guanfacine use can thus be expected to in-
crease patience without increasing impul-
sive risk taking.

Many psychiatric disorders also result
from aberrant self-regulation, and rational
therapies can harness self-control mecha-
nisms. Susan Nolen-Hoekesema, Chair of
Yale’s Psychology Department, presented her
research on rumination, the cognitive basis
for depression and anxiety. Depression and
anxiety disorders are accompanied and per-
petuated by rumination, the passive focus on
one’s symptoms of distress, and possible
causes and consequences of these symptoms
[10]. In this case, thinking about the abstract
long-term future is harmful, and finding new
strategies to engage problem solving may be
therapeutic. Therapy often points out the ha-
bitual pattern of negative thoughts that have
become ingrained worries. Strategies to en-
hance awareness of rumination have been
shown to improve mood, particularly mind-
fulness meditation [11]. Mindfulness medita-
tion is a practice of making non-judgmental
observation of present moment experiences,
including sensations, feelings, and thoughts.
This practice is thought to work by making
an individual aware of when he or she is en-
gaging in rumination and then can use various
strategies like journaling or jogging to
process emotion or distract from the prob-
lematic habitual thought patterns. Mindful-
ness meditation has diverse implications for
medicine, ranging from treatment of chronic
pain to recovering from obesity to improving
doctor-patient dialogue [12]. Mindfulness is
one practice to enhance awareness that can
improve self-control.

Dieting is one example of self-control,
where one must behave in accordance with
the abstract long-term goal of losing weight
over the immediate reward of a chocolate
cupcake. Interestingly, meta-analysis of data
Gianessi: Neuroscience of self-control
296
collected using self-report measures of self-
control shows only small effect sizes for
self-control leading to diet success [13]. This
meta-analysis also shows that trait self-con-
trol has a greater influence on automatic
rather than controlled behaviors, suggesting
that self-control helps form good habits [13].
Successful weight loss is expected when an
individual fosters long-term changes of eat-
ing habits.
Cognitive neuroscientists use functional
magnetic resonance imaging to measure
changes in blood flow, or the blood oxy-
genation level dependent (BOLD?) contrast,
as a proxy for neural activity, based on the
assumption that increased activity in a re-
gion’s neurons related to a given task will
require more oxygen. Cognitive regulation
of craving high calorie foods is associated
with decreases in striatum and increases in
prefrontal cortex BOLD signal [14]. Re-
duced craving is achieved by focusing on the
long-term deleterious effects of consuming
the cupcake, which brings conscious aware-
ness to the importance of the long-term goal
of dieting [14]. Focusing awareness on what
one wants to change and on how to solve
problems is a helpful strategy to encourage
development of good habits.

Drug addiction is viewed as self-control
failure by the economics model of the indi-
vidual making decisions based on reason.
Richard Holton, a philosopher from MIT,
discussed the role of self-control in addic-
tion in relation to the law. Rational individ-
uals ought to be held responsible for their
actions under just laws. Punitive laws for
use of illegal drugs should follow if a user
willfully engages in drug taking. If, how-
ever, drug taking has become a compulsive
habit that an addict has lost the ability to
control using reason, how responsible for
drug use can law hold the addict? Illegal
drugs are sampled by many in the popula-
tion by their mid 30s, but most people stop
use when incentives shift to maintain em-
ployment or a relationship with a spouse,
implying a rational decision strategy [15].
Addiction in a rational individual would re-
sult from withdrawal, the negative rein-
forcement of consequences of stopping,
which continues the drug use. However, the
chance of relapse after withdrawal is very
high, so the high cost of withdrawal cannot
be reinforcing drug use [16]. It is not rational
to immediately return to drug use when one
has just felt the worst of the negative conse-
quences of that behavior.
The incentive salience model of drug
addiction posits that there are independent
representations of liking and wanting in the
brain, and that addiction is wanting without
liking [16]. When one becomes addicted, the
drug increases in saliency as a reward,
which drives drug seeking beyond the hedo-
nic value enjoyed. A rational individual
would make choices based on liking some-
thing, seeking drugs based on their hedonic
properties alone. Drug seeking persists in
spite of the absence of enjoyment, like when
the drug is not given and also persists in the
face of losing jobs, family, and friends, de-
spite admittance that the pleasure is not
worth those costs [16]. Drug abuse affects
the neurotransmitter dopamine, a component
signal of reward, which hastens the devel-
opment of habits, or model-free representa-
tions [17,18]. Regulation of drug craving
involves engaging higher activation in the
dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and lower ac-
tivation in the ventral striatum by thinking
of long-term consequences [14]. Effective
therapies for rehabilitating drug addicts
should focus on reducing the cue-sensitized
reward seeking and modulating the incen-
tive salience of the drug so that normal in-
centives like avoiding jail time or earning
income by maintaining a job can be moti-
vating.

Angela Duckworth worked as a teacher
before becoming a Psychology professor at
the University of Pennsylvania, researching
why self-control is necessary for schoolwork
or “how can we make algebra homework into
Angry Birds?” a popular smartphone game.
Schoolwork is deemed equally important to
Gianessi: Neuroscience of self-control 297
future goals and requires just as much con-
centration for C average and A average stu-
dents [19]. Unfortunately for Duckworth, this
data set also showed that A students do not
rate homework as fun any more than C stu-
dents do, which means they are not turning
homework into Angry Birds. Self-discipline
is a better predictor of grade point average
than intelligence, demonstrating that the abil-
ity to commit to long-term goals is instru-
mental to scholastic success [20]. It is
important to start learning self-control early,
since the ability to delay gratification as a
child predicts adaptive long-term develop-
mental outcomes, including better physical
health and personal finances and lower inci-
dence of substance dependence and criminal
records [21]. Mental contrasting is one
method used to heighten commitment to
long-term goals. This technique involves
imagining the desired future and then con-
trasting it with the present reality and pictur-
ing all that stands in the way of reaching that
future. Thinking about obstacles that could
hamper reaching a goal has been shown to in-
crease achievement when compared to just
thinking positively about the desired future
[22]. Self-control is enhanced through mental
contrasting and forming implementation in-
tention plans to surmount obstacles on the
way to goal attainment.


Matthew Noah Smith contended that
self-regulation research is inherently based
on normative values. What is normal? How
ought we to live? The Yale Philosophy pro-
fessor cautioned that we not over-regulate
ourselves. He gave complementary exam-
ples where one would not want to suppress
expression of emotion, including when a
friend is sick or when one scores a goal
while playing a sport. The definition of self-
control used by the conference ― acting in
a manner consistent with global goals and
values in the face of smaller, more concrete
proximal rewards when these are in conflict
would undermine these objections, be-
cause in these situations, there is no conflict
between feeling one’s emotions and achiev-
ing one’s long-term goals. Cheering after
scoring a goal need not be regulated, be-
cause that proximal reward does not conflict
with the long-term goal of winning the
game. Feeling sadness and sympathy for a
sick friend is an expectable response to a
particular event. These feelings are not in
line with either proximal or distal rewards,
so self-control is irrelevant to this situation.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
of Mental Disorders does imply normative
judgments. The definition of a disorder is
any mental condition that causes significant
distress or disability. A diagnosis of disorder
signifies suffering and impairment. This is
only useful when the difference from a norm
used to define the disorder is associated with
suffering. The mental conditions used to di-
agnose a disorder must also not be an ex-
pectable response to a particular event.
Empirical study of prevalence, progression,
and prognosis of disorders aids in the devel-
opment of interventions statistically shown
to improve quality of life.
Tamar Gendler, Chair of the Yale Phi-
losophy department, pointed out that goal-
directed behaviors are not always better than
habitual behaviors. Skills that we cultivate
to levels of expertise come with the auto-
maticity of habits. Self-control is often in-
strumental to developing skills through
practice. Understanding which behaviors
should be under conscious control and
which should be well practiced is key to op-
timal decision-making.
The philosophy panel also warned neu-
roscientists to avoid getting caught up in
mind-body duality, that the soul will not be
localized to a particular brain structure.
Though many models presented in the self-
control symposia contained duality the
“hot/cool” model by Mischel [23], model-
free versus model-based decision-making
process [3], the dual-motive conflict [1]
this is not a mind-body duality. Kentaro Fu-
jita, recently tenured Psychology faculty at
Ohio State University, used Congress as an
elegant metaphor for how the mind works,
where every motivation is represented as a
Senator, who each gets a turn to speak on the
Gianessi: Neuroscience of self-control
298
floor of the Congress, but eventually, a vote
will decide what the Congress’s action will
be. The goal of self-control is to express
each motivation at the right time and place.
Philosophers voiced that the materialistic
explanation is just one way of knowing.

Self-control can be used to change bad
habits by becoming aware of the habitual be-
havior, increasing commitment to long-term
goals, and imagining solutions to problems
before they occur. Neuroscience studies the
physiology of delayed gratification and finds
that the prefrontal cortex and striatum are in-
volved. Theories of how these brain regions
work in self-control are currently being re-
searched and refined. Good self-control pre-
dicts many adaptive long-term outcomes,
including physical fitness, mental health,
and scholastic achievement. Strategies like
mental contrasting and mindfulness medita-
tion that enhance self-control are useful.
Mindfulness meditation practice can en-
hance awareness of thought patterns that are
counterproductive to achievement of goals.
Mental contrasting implementation intention
can increase self-control, because one forms
a plan about the future, increasing commit-
ment to distal rather than proximal goals.
Understanding who is capable of controlling
themselves has broader implications for
many psychiatric disorders, obesity, and the
law.

1. Fujita K. On Conceptualizing Self-Control as
More Than the Effortful Inhibition of Impulses.
Pers Soc Psychol Rev. 2011;15:352-66.
2. Mischel W, Shoda Y, Rodriguez M. Delay of grat-
ification in children. Science. 1989;244(4907):933.
3. Daw ND, Niv Y, Dayan P. Uncertainty-based
competition between prefrontal and dorsolat-
eral striatal systems for behavioral control.
Nat Neurosci. 2005;8:1704-11.
4. Kim S, Hwang J, Seo H, Lee D. Valuation of
uncertain and delayed rewards in primate pre-
frontal cortex. Neural Netw. 2009;22(3):294-
304.
5. Cai X, Kim S, Lee D. Heterogeneous Coding
of Temporally Discounted Values in the Dor-
sal and Ventral Striatum during Intertempo-
ral Choice. Neuron. 2011;69:170-82.
6. Peters J, Büchel C. The neural mechanisms
of inter-temporal decision-making: under-
standing variability. Trends Cogn Sci.
2011;15:227-39.
7. Ahn WY, Rass O, Fridberg DJ, Bishara AJ,
Forsyth JK, Breier A, et al. Temporal dis-
counting of rewards in patients with bipolar
disorder and schizophrenia. J Abnorm Psy-
chol. 2011;120(4):911-21.
8. Kim S, Bobeica I, Gamo NJ, Arnsten AFT, Lee
D. Effects of α-2A adrenergic receptor agonist
on time and risk preference in primates. Psy-
chopharmacology (Berl). 2012;219(2):363-75.
9. Arnsten AFT, Paspalas CD, Gamo NJ, Yang
Y, Wang M. Dynamic Network Connectivity:
A new form of neuroplasticity. Trend Cogn
Sci. 2010;14:365-75.
10. McLaughlin KA, Nolen-Hoeksema S. Rumi-
nation as a transdiagnostic factor in depression
and anxiety. Behav Res Ther. 2011;49:186-93.
11. Piet J, Hougaard E. The effect of mindful-
ness-based cognitive therapy for prevention
of relapse in recurrent major depressive dis-
order: a systematic review and meta-analy-
sis. Clin Psychol Rev. 2011;31:1032-40.
12. Ludwig DS, Kabat-Zinn J. Mindfulness in
medicine. JAMA. 2008;300(11):1350-2.
13. de Ridder DTD, Lensvelt-Mulders G, Finke-
nauer C, Stok FM, Baumeister RF. Taking
Stock of Self-Control: A Meta-Analysis of
How Trait Self-Control Relates to a Wide
Range of Behaviors. Pers Soc Psychol Rev.
2012;16(1):76-99.
14. Kober H, Mende-Siedlecki P, Kross EF,
Weber J, Mischel W, Hart CL, et al. Pre-
frontal-striatal pathway underlies cognitive
regulation of craving. Proc Natl Acad Sci
USA. 2010;107(33):14811-16.
15. Heyman G. Is addiction a chronic, relapsing
disease? Relapse rates, estimates of duration,
and a theory of addiction. In: Heymann P,
Brownsberger W, editors. Drug Addiction
and Drug Policy. Boston: Harvard University
Press; 2001 p. 81-117.
16. Robinson TE, Berridge KC. Addiction. Annu
Rev Psychol. 2003;54(1):25-53.
17. Glimcher PW. Colloquium Paper: Understand-
ing dopamine and reinforcement learning: The
dopamine reward prediction error hypothesis.
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2011;108:15647-54.
18. Torregrossa MM, Corlett PR, Taylor JR.
Aberrant learning and memory in addiction.
Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2011;96(4):609-23.
19. Schneider B. Inspiring youth to careers in sci-
ence and medicine: lessons from the Sloan
study of youth and social development. J
Public Health Manag Pract. 2009;15(6
Suppl):S102-6.
20. Duckworth AL, Seligman MEP. Self-disci-
pline outdoes IQ in predicting academic per-
formance of adolescents. Psychol Sci.
2005;16(12):939-44.
21. Moffitt TE, Arseneault L, Belsky D, Dickson
N, Hancox RJ, Harrington H, et al. From the
Gianessi: Neuroscience of self-control 299
Cover: A gradient of childhood self-control
predicts health, wealth, and public safety.
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2011;108:2693-8.
22. Gollwitzer A, Oettingen G, Kirby TA, Duck-
worth AL, Mayer D. Mental contrasting facili-
tates academic performance in school children.
Motivation and Emotion. 2011;35:403-12.
23. Metcalfe J, Mischel W. A Hot/Cool-System
Analysis of Delay of Gratification: Dynamics
of Willpower. Psychol Rev. 1999;106(1):3-19.
... Aunque la teoría de la autorregulación surge en el contexto del aprendizaje, posteriormente se aplica también de forma exitosa a comportamientos vinculados con la 3 salud, incluidos la alimentación y la actividad física. Estudios recientes muestran que las personas con obesidad que mejoran su autorregulación tienen buen pronóstico para la pérdida del exceso de peso (Annesi, 2013;Annesi, Johnson y Porter, 2015;Gianessi, 2012;Halberstadt et al., 2017), mientras que una persona con obesidad y baja autorregulación difícilmente logrará mejorar su estado nutricional (Annesi y Porter, 2013;Carraca et al., 2013). ...
... Al parecer la universidad no solo no está fomentando su desarrollo, sino que, como lo señalaban Partridge et al. (2015) en algunos casos se presentan retrocesos y se deja de cumplir la responsabilidad como promotora de la salud Al respecto, los hallazgos de esta investigación muestran que aquellos indicadores de obesidad como el índice de masa corporal, la circunferencia de cintura y la circunferencia de cadera correlacionaron de forma inversa con la autoobservación de la alimentación y la autoevaluación de la actividad física. Aunque investigaciones previas habían dado ya acercamientos a esta asociación por los efectos que las intervenciones dirigidas a la pérdida de peso habían mostrado (Annesi, 2013;Annesi, Johnson y Porter, 2015;Gianessi, 2012;Halberstadt et al., 2017), en el presente estudio fue además posible asociarlos con estos índices antropométricos que han sido identificados como los más fuertemente relacionados a enfermedades crónicas como la hipertensión (Janghorbani, Aminorroaya y Amini, 2017). Así mismo, estos resultados muestran que dentro de la autorregulación se debe prestar atención a sus distintas dimensiones, pues el estudiar solo el proceso global puede no identificar algunas relaciones o enmascararlas, perdiendo fidelidad en la determinación de estos elementos como fundamentales a fortalecer en los jóvenes. ...
Article
Full-text available
El presente estudio tuvo como propósito determinar si existen variaciones en el índice de masa corporal durante los dos primeros años de estudios universitarios y si estas variaciones están influidas por la autorregulación. Se trata de un estudio longitudinal cuantitativo del año 2013 al 2015. Participaron 59 estudiantes de la Licenciatura en Enfermería de una universidad pública de México que ingresaron a esta en el 2013. Se empleó la Escala de autorregulación de hábitos alimentarios y la Escala de autorregulación de la actividad física, además de equipo calibrado para la antropometría. Los resultados mostraron que en el grupo de mujeres el peso, el IMC, la cintura y la cadera aumentaron en la medición final con respecto a la basal, mientras que el ICC (t = 3.89; p < 0.001) presentó descenso y la autorregulación se mantuvo sin cambios. Por su parte, en el grupo de hombres se observó aumento en la circunferencia de cintura y de cadera y disminución en la autorregulación de la alimentación. Los valores iniciales en autoevaluación de la actividad física y de la alimentación están asociados con el índice de masa corporal en la última medición (β = 0.353; p = 0.006) y mayores puntajes iniciales en autoobservación de la actividad física predicen disminución del IMC (β = 0.782; p = 0.001). Los hallazgos muestran que menor autorregulación de la actividad física se asocia con aumento del IMC, confirmando la hipótesis de que la autorregulación no solo es útil en el tratamiento, sino también en la prevención de la obesidad.
... Aunque se sabe que la actividad física mejora el estado de salud y previene enfermedades, su realización y consolidación como hábito puede resultar muy complejo para los jóvenes si no reciben el apoyo necesario. En este sentido, la investigación sobre los procesos internos que llevan al cambio de comportamientos ha puesto en evidencia que adecuados niveles de autorregulación predicen buenos resultados a largo plazo en el alcance de objetivos (Gianessi, 2012). ...
Article
Strategies for health promotion underscore the importance of physical activity for wellness and disease prevention. However, the information made available to people seldom has an impact on their habits. Consolidating healthy physical activity habits requires, in addition to knowledge, the provision of tools to observe, assess and initiate and maintain actions to achieve its goals. Young people are one of the most important risk groups in the development of obesity because they are still in at the stage of consolidating their habits. Therefore, the aim of this study was to design and validate an instrument to measure self-regulation in physical activity in Mexican university students. Initially 51 items were drafted, which were later evaluated by four experts. Two applications of the instrument were conducted with a total of 424 participants. Factorial analysis of non-weighted least squares with Promax rotation was performed. Factor loading under 0.40 or commonality below 0.30 were discarded. A 12 item instrument grouped in three factors was obtained which explained 49.4% of the variance: self-reaction, self-observation and self-evaluation. Finally, using Cronbach's alpha test, the instrument had a high reliability coefficient (á = .846). This scale is a valid and reliable tool for measuring self-regulation of the physical activity habits of Mexican college students and can be used to develop diagnostics and evaluate interventions to improve physical activity habits.
... In this regard, self-regulation has gained greater importance in the processes of behavioral change in recent years. Especially since the identification of adequate levels of self-regulation predicts the long-term success of reaching the plans [10], particularly on those interventions of healthy eating and physical activity [11]. ...
Article
Objective: Obesity is characterized, among other features, by overeating, reduced physical activity and an abnormal accumulation of body fat. These features are thought to result, at least in part, from the individual's inability to self-regulate their eating and physical activity behaviors (E&PaB). Self-regulation of the E&PaB is a three-step sequential process: self-observation, self-evaluation and self-reaction. However, it is yet unclear whether deficient self-regulation of E&PaB could predispose, facilitate and/or consolidate obesity. Unraveling this issue is fundamental in order to more precisely define the role of self-regulation of E&PaB in the management of obesity. Methods: This research was focused on the question of whether or not self-regulation of E&PaB is related to obesity in female undergraduate students. This population segment seems especially vulnerable to developing obesity since they undergo a significant shift of their E&PaB upon their university enrollment. To address this question, a cross-sectional study with 108 female undergraduate students with normal weight (n = 80) or obesity (n = 28) was performed, in which self-regulation of eating habits and physical activity was measured by two validated scales and a personal data questionnaire. Results: Female undergraduate students displaying lower E&PaB self-reactions were consistently overweight or obese. In addition, a multivariate analysis identified high levels of self-reaction towards eating habits related to a minor presence of overweight issues or obesity. Conclusion: Self-regulation should be an essential component in the strategies for obesity prevention as an integral approach that must include orientation about healthy eating and physical activity behaviors. In addition, further studies on the effect of self-regulation in the treatment of the obesity are needed.
... 7 In programs for weight control, high levels of self-regulation predict good longterm results in achieving the objectives. 8,9 However, it is unknown whether self-regulation levels are different between those who are overweight and those who are not. Determining this could give some indication about the role of self-regulation, not only in treatment, but also in prevention of obesity. ...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: The objective of this research was to determine if factors such as self-regulation and ethnicity are associated with overweight and obesity in female college students. Methods: We conducted a transversal analytical study on a sample of 171 female nursing students at the University in Juchitán, Oaxaca. The distribution of Zapotec and Mestizo was proportional. Results: No difference was found between Zapotec and Mestizo with regard to self-regulation or being overweight. However, a higher percentage of Zapotecs (35%) reported monitoring their diet compared with Mestizo (17%). The Zapotec origin of the mother and the self-evaluation of physical activity habits were identified as overweight resiliency factors. Conclusions: Self-assessment of physical activity habits and the consideration of ethnic knowledge from each group should be considered in strategies to help prevent becoming overweight.
... Aunque se sabe que la actividad física mejora el estado de salud y previene enfermedades, su realización y consolidación como hábito puede resultar muy complejo para los jóvenes si no reciben el apoyo necesario. En este sentido, la investigación sobre los procesos internos que llevan al cambio de comportamientos ha puesto en evidencia que adecuados niveles de autorregulación predicen buenos resultados a largo plazo en el alcance de objetivos (Gianessi, 2012). ...
Article
Full-text available
The strategies of health promotion underscore the importance of physical activity for wellness and disease prevention, however, this information is made available to people seldom have an impact on their habits. Consolidate habits of healthy physical activity, in addition to knowledge, required an endowment of tools to observe, assess and initiate and maintain actions for achieving its objectives. Young people are one of the most important risk groups for developing obesity, because found in a consolidation phase of their habits. Therefore the aim of this study was to design and validate an instrument to measure self-regulation physical activity in Mexican university students. Initially were drafted 51 reagents, which were evaluated by four expert judges. Two applications of the instrument were conducted with a total of 424 participants. Factorial analysis of non-weighted least squares with Promax rotation was performed. Factor loading less than ,40 or commonality below than ,30 were discarded. Was obtained an instrument of 12 reagents grouped in three factors that explained 49,4% of the variance: self-reaction, self-observation and self-evaluation. Finally, using Cronbach's alpha test the instrument had a high reliability coefficient (α = ,846). This scale is a valid and reliable self-regulation measure physical activity habits in Mexican college students tool, and can be used to develop diagnostic and evaluate interventions to improve physical activity habits. This scale is a valid and reliable tool to measure self-regulation physical activity in Mexican college students, and can be used to develop diagnostic and evaluate interventions to improve physical activity.
... La autorregulación implica procesos internos, automatizados o deliberados, que dirigen la conducta a lo largo del tiempo y en contextos dinámicos hacia el logro de objetivos (17).Incluye además de la propia conducta, pensamientos, afectos y motivación, que se dan en la interacción de procesos personales y ambientales y son operados a través de un conjunto de subfunciones: autoobservación, autoevaluación y autorreacción (18). ...
Article
Full-text available
Healthy eating habits promote wellness and prevent disease, however, despite the intention to change a bad habit, people often fail in theirattempts. This is due, since the performance of a change requires self-regulation skills that allow to observe, to evaluate and to take an action, in a constant motivation during the all the process; not only theknowledge about proper nutrition. The objective of this study was to design and validate an instrument to evaluate the level of self-regulation for eating habits in college students.62 items were written and evaluated by four expert judges. Two applications of the instrument were performed to 487 subjects. An unweighted least squares factor analysis whit direct Oblimin rotation was performed. The items saturated in more than one factor were discarded, as well as those who had a loading factor less than 0.40 or commonality less than 0.30. It was obtained an instrument integrated by 14 items grouped into three factors, which explained the 46.9% of the variance: self-reaction, self-observation and self-evaluation. Cronbach's alpha yielded a high reliability coefficient (α = 0.874).The results show that the scale is a valid and reliable tool to measure of self-regulation of eating habits in college students. Its applications include the diagnostic of a population and the evaluation of interventions aimed to improving nutrition based on the assumption that the processes of change require sustained self-regulation skills in people protective effect against increases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
... La autorregulación implica procesos internos, automatizados o deliberados, que dirigen la conducta a lo largo del tiempo y en contextos dinámicos hacia el logro de objetivos (17).Incluye además de la propia conducta, pensamientos, afectos y motivación, que se dan en la interacción de procesos personales y ambientales y son operados a través de un conjunto de subfunciones: autoobservación, autoevaluación y autorreacción (18). ...
Article
Full-text available
Healthy eating habits promote wellness and prevent disease, however, despite the intention to change a bad habit, people often fail in theirattempts. This is due, since the performance of a change requires self-regulation skills that allow to observe, to evaluate and to take an action, in a constant motivation during the all the process; not only theknowledge about proper nutrition.The objective of this study was to design and validate an instrument to evaluatethe level of self-regulation for eating habits in college students.62 items were written and evaluated by four expert judges. Two applications of the instrument were performed to 487 subjects. An unweighted least squares factor analysis whit direct Oblimin rotation was performed. The items saturated in more than one factor were discarded, as well as those who had a loading factor less than 0.40 or commonality less than 0.30. It was obtained an instrument integrated by 14 itemsgrouped into three factors, which explained the 46.9% of the variance: self-reaction, self-observation and self-evaluation. Cronbach’s alpha yielded a high reliability coefficient (α = 0.874).The results show that the scale is a valid and reliable tool to measure of self-regulation of eating habits in college students. Its applications include the diagnostic of a population and the evaluation of interventions aimed toimproving nutrition based on the assumption that the processes of change require sustained self-regulation skills in people.protective effect against increases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
... La capacidad de autorregulación del sujeto resulta fundamental dentro de los procesos de cambio. Se ha identificado que adecuados niveles de autorregulación predicen buenos resultados a largo plazo en el alcance de objetivos (Gianessi, 2012), ya que, considera la forma en que los individuos pueden corregir sus conductas con exigencias propias en el establecimiento de metas, la automotivación, la autodirección y la autoevaluación (Breinbauer & Maddaleno, 2008). ...
Article
Full-text available
El cambio de hábitos que representan riesgos a la salud es sumamente complejo por las gratificaciones que la repetición de la conducta ha brindado al sujeto. Específicamente, los hábitos alimentarios al ser parte de la vida cotidiana y estar vinculados a cuestiones ambientales y sociales presentan un fuerte arraigo en el sujeto. El propósito de este documento es reflexionar acerca de las características de los hábitos y las implicaciones que tienen en la alimentación. Se revisa también el proceso de cambio de hábitos alimentarios que resultan de riesgo y el desarrollo de aquellos que promocionan la salud y previenen enfermedades, con algunas propuestas de mecanismos específicos para apoyar estos procesos.
Article
p> Objetivo: identificar la presencia de autorregulación de hábitos alimenticios en médicos residentes de Medicina Familiar con sobrepeso u obesidad de la unidad de medicina familiar (umf) no. 20 de la Ciudad de México. Métodos: estudio transversal retrospectivo, participaron 65 residentes de Medicina Familiar. Se realizó medición de peso, talla y cálculo de índice de masa corporal (imc); para valorar el estado nutricional se utilizó la clasificación de la Organización Mundial de la Salud (oms). En aquellos médicos residentes que presentaron sobrepeso u obesidad (n=41) se aplicó el instrumento de autorregulación de hábitos alimenticios, éste mide tres dominios: autoobservación, autoevaluación y autorreacción, para el estudio de asociaciones se utilizó la prueba de Wilcoxon (p≤0.05), el análisis estadístico se llevó a cabo con el programa spss v. 22. Resultados: 67.7% de los participantes era mujer (n=44), la edad promedio fue de 29.5 años; 50.76% (n=33) presentó sobrepeso, 12.30% (n=8) obesidad. Existió asociación en el dominio autoobservación en médicos residentes de primer y segundo grado (p=0.04) y de segundo y tercer grado (p=0.01), no se observó asociación significativa en autoevaluación y autorreacción. Conclusiones: se determinó que los médicos residentes con sobrepeso u obesidad identificaron comportamientos negativos asociados a sus hábitos alimenticios, sin embargo, no establecieron acciones encaminadas a modificar su peso.</p
Article
Full-text available
Resumen Objetivo identificar la presencia de autorregulación de hábitos alimenticios en médicos residentes de Medicina Familiar con sobrepeso u obesidad de la unidad de medicina familiar (umf) no. 20 de la Ciudad de México. Métodos estudio transversal retrospectivo, participaron 65 residentes de Medicina Familiar. Se realizó medición de peso, talla y cálculo de índice de masa corporal (imc); para valorar el estado nutricional se utilizó la clasificación de la Organización Mundial de la Salud (oms). En aquellos médicos residentes que presentaron sobrepeso u obesidad (n=41) se aplicó el instrumento de autorregulación de hábitos alimenticios, éste mide tres dominios: autoobservación, autoevaluación y autorreacción, para el estudio de asociaciones se utilizó la prueba de Wilcoxon (p≤0.05), el análisis estadístico se llevó a cabo con el programa spss v. 22. Resultados 67.7% de los participantes era mujer (n=44), la edad promedio fue de 29.5 años; 50.76% (n=33) presentó sobrepeso, 12.30% (n=8) obesidad. Existió asociación en el dominio autoobservación en médicos residentes de primer y segundo grado (p=0.04) y de segundo y tercer grado (p=0.01), no se observó asociación significativa en autoevaluación y autorreacción. Conclusiones se determinó que los médicos residentes con sobrepeso u obesidad identificaron comportamientos negativos asociados a sus hábitos alimenticios, sin embargo, no establecieron acciones encaminadas a modificar su peso.
Article
Full-text available
Two brief intervention studies tested whether teaching students to mentally contrast a desired future with its present reality resulted in better academic performance than teaching students to only think about the desired future. German elementary school children (N = 49; Study 1) and US middle school children (N = 63; Study 2) from low-income neighborhoods who were taught mental contrasting achieved comparatively higher scores in learning foreign language vocabulary words after 2 weeks or 4 days, respectively. Results have implications for research on the self-regulation of commitment to solve assigned tasks in classroom settings, and for increasing academic performance in school children in low-income areas.
Article
Full-text available
Patients with bipolar disorder (BD) and schizophrenia (SZ) often show decision-making deficits in everyday circumstances. A failure to appropriately weigh immediate versus future consequences of choices may contribute to these deficits. We used the delay discounting task in individuals with BD or SZ to investigate their temporal decision making. Twenty-two individuals with BD, 21 individuals with SZ, and 30 healthy individuals completed the delay discounting task along with neuropsychological measures of working memory and cognitive function. Both BD and SZ groups discounted delayed rewards more steeply than did the healthy group even after controlling for current substance use, age, gender, and employment. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses showed that discounting rate was associated with both diagnostic group and working memory or intelligence scores. In each group, working memory or intelligence scores negatively correlated with discounting rate. The results suggest that (a) both BD and SZ groups value smaller, immediate rewards more than larger, delayed rewards compared with the healthy group and (b) working memory or intelligence is related to temporal decision making in individuals with BD or SZ as well as in healthy individuals. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Full-text available
Subjective values of actions are influenced by the uncertainty and immediacy of expected rewards. Multiple brain areas, including the prefrontal cortex and basal ganglia, are implicated in selecting actions according to their subjective values. Alterations in these neural circuits, therefore, might contribute to symptoms of impulsive choice behaviors in disorders such as substance abuse and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In particular, the α-2A noradrenergic system is known to have a key influence on prefrontal cortical circuits, and medications that stimulate this receptor are currently in use for the treatment of ADHD. We tested whether the preference of rhesus monkeys for delayed and uncertain reward is influenced by the α-2A adrenergic receptor agonist, guanfacine. In each trial, the animal chose between a small, certain and immediate reward and another larger, more delayed reward. In half of the trials, the larger reward was certain, whereas in the remaining trials, the larger reward was uncertain. Guanfacine increased the tendency for the animal to choose the larger and more delayed reward only when it was certain. By applying an econometric model to the animal's choice behavior, we found that guanfacine selectively reduced the animal's time preference, increasing their choice of delayed, larger rewards, without significantly affecting their risk preference. In combination with previous findings that guanfacine improves the efficiency of working memory and other prefrontal functions, these results suggest that impulsive choice behaviors may also be ameliorated by strengthening prefrontal functions.
Article
Full-text available
Given assertions of the theoretical, empirical, and practical importance of self-control, this meta-analytic study sought to review evidence concerning the relationship between dispositional self-control and behavior. The authors provide a brief overview over prominent theories of self-control, identifying implicit assumptions surrounding the effects of self-control that warrant empirical testing. They report the results of a meta-analysis of 102 studies (total N = 32,648) investigating the behavioral effects of self-control using the Self-Control Scale, the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale, and the Low Self-Control Scale. A small to medium positive effect of self-control on behavior was found for the three scales. Only the Self-Control Scale allowed for a fine-grained analysis of conceptual moderators of the self-control behavior relation. Specifically, self-control (measured by the Self-Control Scale) related similarly to the performance of desired behaviors and the inhibition of undesired behaviors, but its effects varied dramatically across life domains (e.g., achievement, adjustment). In addition, the associations between self-control and behavior were significantly stronger for automatic (as compared to controlled) behavior and for imagined (as compared to actual) behavior.
Article
Full-text available
Humans and animals prefer immediate over delayed rewards (delay discounting). This preference for smaller-but-sooner over larger-but-later rewards shows substantial interindividual variability in healthy subjects. Moreover, a strong bias towards immediate reinforcement characterizes many psychiatric conditions such as addiction and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. We discuss the neural mechanisms underlying delay discounting and describe how interindividual variability (trait effects) in the neural instantiation of subprocesses of delay discounting (such as reward valuation, cognitive control and prospection) contributes to differences in behaviour. We next discuss different interventions that can partially remedy impulsive decision-making (state effects). Although the precise neural mechanisms underlying many of these modulating influences are only beginning to be unravelled, they point towards novel treatment approaches for disorders of impulse control.
Article
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is a group-based clinical intervention program designed to reduce relapse or recurrence of major depressive disorder (MDD) by means of systematic training in mindfulness meditation combined with cognitive-behavioral methods. By means of a meta-analysis to evaluate the effect of MBCT for prevention of relapse or recurrence among patients with recurrent MDD in remission. Electronic databases were searched and researchers were contacted for further relevant studies. Studies were coded for quality. Meta-analyses were performed by means of the Cochrane Collaboration Review Manager 5.1. Six randomized controlled trials with a total of 593 participants were included in the meta-analysis. MBCT significantly reduced the risk of relapse/recurrence with a risk ratio of 0.66 for MBCT compared to treatment as usual or placebo controls, corresponding to a relative risk reduction of 34%. In a pre-planned subgroup analysis the relative risk reduction was 43% for participants with three or more previous episodes, while no risk reduction was found for participants with only two episodes. In two studies, MBCT was at least as effective as maintenance antidepressant medication. Results of this meta-analysis indicate that MBCT is an effective intervention for relapse prevention in patients with recurrent MDD in remission, at least in case of three or more previous MDD episodes.
Article
The notion that self-control entails effortful inhibition of impulses dominates prevailing psychological models of self-control. This article describes some of the conceptual and empirical limitations of defining self-control as the effortful inhibition of impulses. The present article instead advocates for a dual-motive conceptualization, which describes self-control as the process of advancing distal rather than proximal motivations when the two compete. Effortful impulse inhibition in this model represents only one of many means by which people promote their self-control efforts. Adopting a dual-motive approach offers new insight and proposes several new research directions. This article discusses these implications and calls for psychologists to reconsider the way self-control is currently understood.
A number of recent advances have been achieved in the study of midbrain dopaminergic neurons. Understanding these advances and how they relate to one another requires a deep understanding of the computational models that serve as an explanatory framework and guide ongoing experimental inquiry. This intertwining of theory and experiment now suggests very clearly that the phasic activity of the midbrain dopamine neurons provides a global mechanism for synaptic modification. These synaptic modifications, in turn, provide the mechanistic underpinning for a specific class of reinforcement learning mechanisms that now seem to underlie much of human and animal behavior. This review describes both the critical empirical findings that are at the root of this conclusion and the fantastic theoretical advances from which this conclusion is drawn.