Self-control, fluctuating willpower, and forensic practice


Purpose – This article aims to explain the relevance of new findings about self-control and willpower for antisocial behaviour and forensic practice.

Design/methodology/approach – The relevance of the phenomena is covered first followed by an exposition of how self-control works.

Findings – The basic ingredients for effective self-control are standards, monitoring, and willpower. Willpower fluctuates as a function of demands on it (including decision making) and bodily states (including food and rest). Self-control and willpower can be increased, even in adults.

Practical implications – Antisocial and criminal behaviour is often mediated by failures of self-control. Remediation and prevention can benefit by applying a correct understanding of how self-control functions.

Originality-value – Understanding of self-control has advanced greatly in recent years and is highly relevant to forensic practice. Clients can learn to gain control over their actions.

by Roy F Baumeister – Professor of Psychology at the Psychology Department of Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA


Leave a Comment