CHAPTER 13 - i CHAPTER THIRTEEN Self-Regulation in the...

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Unformatted text preview: i CHAPTER THIRTEEN Self-Regulation in the Service of Conflict Resolution Walter Mischel Aaron L. DeSmet Ethan Kross h 11! l\.|l 294 om e of the most frustrati ng conflict s are those that people fight within their own heads, as they struggl e with the dilemm as and temptat ions they encount er and create, as has been chronicl ed ever since Adam was tempted by Eve and Paradis e was lost forever. In everyda y life, we experie nce these internal wars when, after resolvin g to skip the S dessert, we are faced with the pastry tray, or when the tobacco addict, choking with emphysema, battles with himself not to light the next cigarette. Such conflicts are omnipresent as people try to pursue a difficult achievement goal, or follow through on a health regimen (adhering to diets, exercise schedules, medications), or maintain a close relationship efforts that require more than habit and routine to stay on course as conflict becomes inevitable and the difficulty and frustration of the effort escalates. In this chapter, we consider some of the main findings from psychology that address these internal battles. We do so on the assumption that understanding what makes intrapsychic conflict easier to negotiate constructively is also relevant to the diverse types of conflict that characterize the human condition at every level from the interpersonal to the international. Our primary goal is to capture what psychological research and theory tell us about willpower and to examine the potential implications for conflict resolution. SELF-REGULATION IN THE SERVICE OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION 295 UNDERSTANDING "WILLPOWER" The facet of willpower that is of particular concern here is the ability to inhibit impulsive, automatic, "hot" emotional responses that conflict with and threaten to undo the more valued but distant future goals one is trying to pursue (trying to bypass the pastry, or continue studying for an exam rather than turn on the TV, or forgo alcohol, or save for retirement rather than buy the sports car, or settle a long-standing border dispute with one's neighbor). A Prototypic Conflict Within the Self: The Marshmallow Dilemma The "delay of gratification" paradigm (Mischel, Shoda, and Rodriguez, 1989) is more widely known as the "marshmallow test" in media versions and best-selling advice volumes. Popularization notwithstanding (Goleman, 1995), in psychologi- cal research this method has been a prototype for the study of willpower in pur- suit of difficult goals and a cornerstone for the concept of emotional intelligence (EQ). It has been researched extensively, both in experiments and in longitudinal studies that follow the same individuals for many years. (For reviews, see Metcalfe and Mischel, 1999; Mischel and Ayduk, 2004; and Mischel, Shoda, and Rodriguez, 1989)....
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CHAPTER 13 - i CHAPTER THIRTEEN Self-Regulation in the...

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