The Body and Self-Regulation
Self-regulation refers to control over one's emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Failure of self-regulation contributes to many important individual and societal problems, including problems with eating, spending, interpersonal violence, sexual promiscuity, and alcohol and drug use. Evidence points to a general pool of self-regulatory capacity. This chapter suggests that this capacity depends on, is reflected in, and affects physiology. That is, self-regulation is literally embodied. This assertion seems obvious with regard to the central nervous system, but less so with regard to peripheral physiology. Nonetheless, there is evidence that peripheral regulation of physiological parameters such as blood glucose and heart rate is intertwined with central regulation of the self. The chapter presents a brief overview of physiological systems involved in self-regulation, reviews the empirical links between self-regulation and physiology in several domains, and then suggests directions for future research.
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