More on self-control! A reader sent me this video about self-control that is sort of obvious at the beginning but gets interesting near the end. Obvious points are that self-control correlates with "success" in life and that some people have lower self-control than others.
The project is getting people all hooked up to an EEG machine monitoring their brain activity, particularly the region of the brain associated with self-control. Participants get real-time feedback on whether they are using that part of the brain and are asked to utilize it even more. They figure out through trial and error whatever it is that allows them to engage that part of the brain until they can do it on command. Participants in this project show less self-control fatigue than the control group.
Money quote: "Self-control is not a magical, metaphysical phenomenon. Self-control is a tangible, physiological process that we should be able to intervene on."
This is interesting because my main advice to people when they ask me -- how can I improve my self-control? -- is that I am not sure that you can improve it and for me it is largely just a matter of avoiding situations that might tax my self-control. Of course the participants didn't seem to actually improve their base-line level of self-control, just diminished their self-control fatigue, but still it suggests that there may be hope.