Cover: The Science of Self-Control, from Harvard University PressCover: The Science of Self-Control in PAPERBACK

The Science of Self-Control

Add to Cart

Product Details

PAPERBACK

$35.00 • £28.95 • €31.50

ISBN 9780674013575

Publication Date: 03/01/2004

Short

240 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

43 line illustrations

World

This book proposes a new science of self-control based on the principles of behavioral psychology and economics. Claiming that insight and self-knowledge are insufficient for controlling one’s behavior, Howard Rachlin argues that the only way to achieve such control—and ultimately happiness—is through the development of harmonious patterns of behavior.

Most personal problems with self-control arise because people have difficulty delaying immediate gratification for a better future reward. The alcoholic prefers to drink now. If she is feeling good, a drink will make her feel better. If she is feeling bad, a drink will make her feel better. The problem is that drinking will eventually make her feel worse. This sequence—the consistent choice of a highly valued particular act (such as having a drink or a smoke) that leads to a low-valued pattern of acts—is called “the primrose path.”

To avoid it, the author presents a strategy of “soft commitment,” consisting of the development of valuable patterns of behavior that bridge over individual temptations. He also proposes, from economics, the concept of the substitutability of “positive addictions,” such as social activity or exercise, for “negative addictions,” such as drug abuse or overeating.

Self-control may be seen as the interaction with one’s own future self. Howard Rachlin shows that indeed the value of the whole—of one’s whole life—is far greater than the sum of the values of its individual parts.

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Jacket: Failure to Disrupt: Why Technology Alone Can’t Transform Education, by Justin Reich, from Harvard University Press

Publishing (and Promoting) a Book during a Pandemic

This year challenged the way people do many things. For Justin Reich that meant rethinking how to promote his new book, Failure to Disrupt: Why Technology Alone Can’t Transform Education, published in September. With bookstore tours and readings out of the question, Reich came up with an idea to get the word out about his book. On March 24, I submitted the final copyedits for my new book