Self-control can be strengthened

A person's self-control can be strengthened, new research has suggested. However, according to the findings - which have been published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science - it is also possible to deplete this type of behaviour.

Investigators from the University of New South Wales, the University of Kentucky and Northwestern University noted self-control and aggression are characteristics that are closely linked, but individuals who practise the former are better able to control the latter as a result.

Thomas Denson, a Psychologist at the University of New South Wales - which was established in 1949 - noted: "The most interesting findings that have come out of this is that if you give aggressive people the opportunity to improve their self-control, they're less aggressive."

The authors observed that it is not necessarily the case that people who are inclined towards aggression do not want to control themselves, rather they are just not very capable of dong so.

Dr Peter Martin, a Chartered Psychologist, commented: "I would go farther than the findings of this research. The results discussed I believe to be true on the basis of considerable counselling psychology experience.

"The ability to be able to choose how to respond rather than to be at the mercy of reaction is the key to a sense-of-self in most realms of personal experience, aggression amongst them.

"It is the key ability to be able to live in society, to belong and to attain self-respect and a sense of agency. I hope that further research will provide empirical evidence to ratify the causal link between chosen self-control and other aspects of individual behaviour."