Self-control is performed by the thoughtful system, providing managers with the cognitive resources required to reach goals over extended periods of time. Managers with a high working memory capacity are better able to maintain singular task focus. Managers who excel at using the thoughtful system to regulate instinctive responses are more successful at resisting distracting information that may make self-control more difficult.
Cognitive control is an emergent property of many different areas of the brain that make up the thoughtful system. Activity in the prefrontal regions linked to cognitive control and subcortical regions that are linked to reward vary between people and change as decisions are made. The areas of the brain that comprise the thoughtful system are very plastic.
The thoughtful system focuses the neural structures responsible for calculating goal-relevant information while suppressing irrelevant information. As cognitive faculties are trained, the baseline level of competency in active data filtration is improved. The various types of self-regulation are managed by overlapping neural networks. Self-control requires a balance between the prefrontal cortex and the subcortical, emotional, brain network.
- Baumeister, R. F., & Heatherton, T. F. (1996). Self-regulation failure: An overview. Psychological inquiry, 7, 1-15. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s15327965pli0701_1
- Buckley J, Cohen JD, Kramer AF, McAuley E, Mullen SP. Cognitive control in the self-regulation of physical activity and sedentary behavior. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 2014;8:747. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00747.
- Englert C, Bertrams A. Integrating attentional control theory and the strength model of self-control. Frontiers in Psychology. 2015;6:824. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00824.
- Fishbach, A., & Shah J. Y. (2006). Self-control in action: Implicit dispositions toward goals and away from temptations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90, 820-832. doi:10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.110
- Hagger, M. S., Wood, C., Stiff, C., & Chatzisarantis, N. L. D. (2010). Ego-depletion and the strength model of self-control: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 495-525.
- Hall PA, Fong GT. Temporal self-regulation theory: a neurobiologically informed model for physical activity behavior. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 2015;9:117. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2015.00117.
- Heatherton TF. Neuroscience of Self and Self-Regulation. Annual review of psychology. 2011;62:363-390. doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.121208.131616.
- Heatherton TF, Wagner DD. Cognitive Neuroscience of Self-Regulation Failure. Trends in cognitive sciences. 2011;15(3):132-139. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2010.12.005.
- Hofmann, Wilhelm, Malte Friese, and Fritz Strack. “Impulse and self-control from a dual-systems perspective.” Perspectives on Psychological Science 4.2 (2009): 162-176.
- Mullen SP, Hall PA. Editorial: Physical activity, self-regulation, and executive control across the lifespan. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 2015;9:614. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2015.00614.