kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
[personal profile] kaberett
okay so -- ego depletion is, broadly, the idea that self-control is a finite resource and if you do a thing that takes a lot of self-control you will have less of it left for subsequent tasks within [time-frame]; a recent-ish replication study found that it's not actually an effect that... exists.

what I am curious about, and lacking (ha) the focus etc to track down for myself, is: how does this conception of self-control interact with issues of decision fatigue and executive dysfunction? is self-control being formulated as meaningfully distinct from decision-making?

thank you in advance for indulging my idle curiosity <3

(no subject)

Date: 2019-02-23 01:50 am (UTC)
recessional: a small grass plant pushes up between cracks of parched ground (Default)
From: [personal profile] recessional
....I mean having read the link I have serious questions about whether or not they were testing what is meaningfully meant by "self-control" when it is discussed in context of human behavioural patterns?

I can see where they're TRYING, but what they actually appear to be testing is the ability of a human to perceive data, integrate it, and then comply with different directives to react to the stimuli. However, that is only a tiny, TINY fraction of what we mean when we say "self-control" - self-control is primarily and overwhelmingly used in context to refer to our ability to resist the emotional lure to do something that are perceived as socially negative.

You do not test my ability to not yell at someone who is annoying me, or my ability not to spend money in ways that are not consistent with long-term abstract goals, by whether or not I press or refrain from pressing the E key given different circumstances: I do not care about the E key, identifying the context of pressing or not pressing the E key has no emotional or larger cognitive load, and basically, this is a bad test for what they're actually claiming to test.

Which is a FREQUENT PROBLEM when trying to make this kind of double-blind Empirically Correct Test for this kind of shit, mind?

"Self-control" is necessarily a very complex multi-partate concept, and I doubt you could get more than a "how to tell if something's porn" answer ("I know it when I see it") out of anyone involved.

(no subject)

Date: 2019-02-23 08:49 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ewt
*nod* this is roughly what I was thinking.

(no subject)

Date: 2019-02-23 09:56 am (UTC)
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
From: [personal profile] highlyeccentric
I am less capable of parsing the study than you but I have the same questions.

Is it not a pretty well attested *child* development thing that, say, a kid with anxiety may be able to 'behave' (ie, exert self control) for a certain amount of time in a high-pressure environment (eg school) but that is likely to result in lower-than-usual impulse control at home?

(no subject)

Date: 2019-02-23 02:14 pm (UTC)
recessional: a small grass plant pushes up between cracks of parched ground (Default)
From: [personal profile] recessional
Yup. Absolutely.

(no subject)

Date: 2019-02-23 05:53 am (UTC)
meneltarma: two soldiers, one with a head wound, sit smoking cigarettes (historical: bandage the wound)
From: [personal profile] meneltarma
...I wrote a long reply and my computer ate it. Let's see.

I preface this with: I have a TBI and a seizure disorder where two of my symptoms are "literal out of body experience of lack of control of the self" and "executive dysfunction/overwhelm" and to me they feel extraordinarily different. I literally have an out of body experience of going "DON'T DO THE THING" and watching myself do the thing anyway. This is, in no way, related to, being fatigued or overwhelmed by Choice and running it through a thousand rubrics until I am Overwhelmed Further and finally go "I hope the world doesn't end if I click this button".

But I have elimiated a huge amount of possible decisions in my life by pre-making them. If something is not X,Y,Z, already, I will not do it/eat it/buy it/make it/say it. The decision is already no. When faced with two equally valid options (most options in my life are not equally valid!) is where decision fatigue really hits me hardest and I face the most difficulty making choices.

The "dysfunction" part of executive dysfunction REALLY lives up to the name. Like. Really really. I will become unable to SEE, unable to PROCESS INFORMATION, unable to tell the difference between A and B, the fatigue is so heavy and real I will fall asleep in the middle of choice-making, or have a panic attack about my choices. I don't think it's like that for most people. OTOH, I don't "deplete" in willpower: as long as there is _a_ choice which meets my pre-established requirements as Good Enough, I can take it, but if there are A Bunch Of Meh-To-Merely-OK Choices, I become overwhelmed with the desire not to take any of them, do nothing at all, or seek out The Measurably Best Choice.

(I am not kidding about falling asleep: when looking at merely adequate hotels, I literally was trying not to fall asleep until I found an Excellent Hotel which was Clearly Superior And Met All Requirements At Half The Price, at which point my brain became able to process information because it was so distinct from every other meh, unsatisfactory option. I will fall asleep ordering mediocre takeout. My self-defense mechanism against executive dysfunction/overwhelm/whatever the hell it is is a LITERAL fatigue: decide later, sleep it off.)

(no subject)

Date: 2019-02-23 09:05 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ewt
Thoughts, additionally to my comment above:

- why are they measuring self-control rather than impulsivity?
- the stuff about self-control being associated with good outcomes always reminds me of... how much easier I find it to exercise self-control, and how much better my executive function is, when my external environment is good. (Caveat: my internal environment is also important here, and pre-existing habits help a lot too but are non-trivial to set up).
- on many things that matter, self-control affects future decisions too, because doing the thing that required self-control means I am physically or mentally in a better place for The Next Thing

Further, I think of self-control as "not reading the internet instead of getting dressed" (...ahem) and executive function as more like "not stalling and staring into space for 20 minutes instead of putting on the second sock". Situations where I have enough EF to read and think and type (sometimes aimlessly but sometimes in more depth because of various prompting... **ahem**), but not enough to stop doing that and get on with basic life-maintenance activities *abound*.

(no subject)

Date: 2019-02-23 05:31 pm (UTC)
ursula: bear eating salmon (Default)
From: [personal profile] ursula
Oh, hey, I have an entire morning routine built around the assumption that I will stall and spend twenty minutes staring into space before I finish dressing!

(no subject)

Date: 2019-02-23 08:36 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ewt

Yes, exactly!

(no subject)

Date: 2019-02-24 08:51 am (UTC)
emperor: (Default)
From: [personal profile] emperor
I read a book about "Willpower", I think it was, and was then a bit sad to discover that many of the studies it was based upon weren't usefully reproducible. I do sometimes find myself having decision fatigue. Err, by which I guess I'm saying "I don't know, but am interested in the answers" :-/

(no subject)

Date: 2019-02-27 10:24 am (UTC)
sylvaine: Dark-haired person with black eyes & white pupils. (Default)
From: [personal profile] sylvaine
I've given up on the concepts of self-control and willpower as useful ways of thinking about my lived experience and the ways I interact with the world. Executive (dys)function is a far less morally charged term, and for me at least, fulfills the same purpose.

(no subject)

Date: 2019-03-04 04:32 pm (UTC)
emef: daisy passed out at the typewriter (Default)
From: [personal profile] emef
hi! kinda barging in to this post a week later but I had a thought about it -

I was initially confused about the study until it occurred to me that I only think about the concept of self-control when I'm actively struggling with it. But it is always present, right? And it makes sense that when it is used repeatedly it would, if anything, become easier. Like sitting in class and resisting the urge to say aloud everything going through your mind (which we do as 5 year olds and then slowly learn not to do, and by the time we're in university it requires pretty much no effort whatever.) Or having the self control to, say, not just grab food at the grocery store and start eating it. Which are things that are so practiced that we don't actively think about them as self-control.

So yeah I thought, maybe the interaction between self-control, decision fatigue and executive dysfunction happens specifically at the moment of *struggling* with self-control, so like, when you're actively thinking about it.

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kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
kaberett

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