Self-Control in Animals and People - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780128125083, 9780128125090

Self-Control in Animals and People

1st Edition

Authors: Michael Beran
eBook ISBN: 9780128125090
Paperback ISBN: 9780128125083
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 17th August 2018
Page Count: 332
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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


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© Academic Press 2018
Academic Press
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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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