Self-Control in Animals and People

Self-Control in Animals and People

1st Edition - August 11, 2018

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  • Author: Michael Beran
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128125083
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128125090

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Self-Control in Animals and People takes an interdisciplinary look at what self-control is, how it works, and whether humans are alone as a species in their ability to demonstrate self-control. The book outlines historical and recent empirical approaches to understanding when self-control succeeds and fails, and which species may share with humans the ability to anticipate better future outcomes. It also provides readers with in-depth explorations of whether various species can delay gratification, the ways in which people and animals exhibit other forms of self-control, what influences the capacity and expression of self-control, and much more. In addition to its comprehensive coverage of self-control research, the book also describes self-control assessment tests that can be used with young children, adults, and a wide variety of nonhuman species, with the goal of making fair and clear comparisons among the groups. This combination makes Self-Control in Animals and People a valuable resource for cognitive, developmental, and clinical psychologists, philosophers, academic students and researchers in psychology and the social sciences, and animal behaviorists.

Key Features

  • Provides a comprehensive perspective of the evolutionary emergence of self-control across species
  • Explores different "kinds" of self-control and their links to one another, and whether self-control can be improved or strengthened
  • Offers insight on mental time travel (chronesthesia) and how it relates to self-control
  • Demonstrates how to develop self-control tests for human and nonhuman animals, and how to make fair and clear comparisons among those groups


Academic researchers in psychology and social sciences (including behavioral economists and philosophers); cognitive and clinical psychologists; graduate students in psychology courses; animal behaviorists

Table of Contents

  • 1. What is Self-Control and What is it Good For?
    2. Self-Control and Other Forms of Inhibitory Control
    3. Human Intertemporal Choices: Choosing Between Now and Later
    4. Intertemporal Choices by Nonhuman Animals
    5. Children’s Delay of Gratification: How Long Would You Wait for Marshmallows?
    6. The Reverse-Reward Task: Why Pointing Away from What You Want is so Difficult for Animals
    7. Would Animals Pass a Version of the Marshmallow Test?
    8. Other Tests of Self-Control and Delay of Gratification in Animals
    9. How Do We Know Whether We Are Measuring Self-Control? Methodological Concerns Lead to a New Test
    10. Is Self-Control Like a Muscle?
    11. Do Animals Flex Their Own Self-Control "Muscle"?
    12. Are Animal Tests of Self-Control All Measuring the Same Thing?
    13. Self-Control and Social Settings
    14. Mental Time Travel: What Is It, and How Does It Relate to Self-Control?
    15. Worth Waiting For: Final Thoughts on Self-Control and the Future of Future-Oriented Research with People and Animals

Product details

  • No. of pages: 332
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2018
  • Published: August 11, 2018
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128125083
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128125090

About the Author

Michael Beran

Michael Beran is an associate professor of psychology at Georgia State University. He is a cognitive psychologist with 21 years of experience working with nonhuman primates, young children, human adults, and other species such as birds, bears, and elephants. His research on self-control and future-oriented cognition has been supported by grants from the NIH and NSF. He is the editor or co-editor of eight major journals in the fields of comparative and cognitive science, and has published more than 150 peer-reviewed journal articles (and more than 250 total publications) on aspects of human and animal cognition, including dozens of papers on self-control.

Affiliations and Expertise

Georgia State University, GA, USA

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