Self-controlled children have greater chances

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In a long-term study, US researchers investigated the effects of basic character traits on success and failure in life. Discipline and self-control therefore count more for personal success than cognitive intelligence.

With a long-term study, US researchers show that self-controlled children have a greater chance of success in life, regardless of the intelligence quotient. As part of the study, US scientists had followed the character and path of life of around 1,000 people from birth to the age of 32. The research team led by the US psychologists Terrie Moffit and Avshalom Capsi from Duke University came to the conclusion that health, prosperity and social living conditions in people develop significantly more favorably if they are already well developed at the age of three years over an age-appropriate To have self-control. However, self-control can also be trained in the course of life, which increases the chances of successful life development, the US scientists report.

As part of their long-term study, the US scientists had observed the life cycle and character traits of 1,000 New Zealanders from the age of three to the age of 32. They continuously collected information about the character and life cycle of the study participants, based on assessments by parents, teachers and in later phases of life also on institutional sources and the statements of the participants themselves. The researchers were particularly interested in properties and behaviors that reflect the level of personal self-control, such as persistence, tolerance for frustration, patience, care and determination. In addition, the intelligence quotient and the social origin of the study participants played a special role in the evaluation. The researchers published the results of their study in the current issue of the journal "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, PNAS"

The US researchers report that people with discipline and self-control were significantly better and more positive in terms of health, prosperity and socially shaped living conditions than people with lack of self-control. Those who were able to fall back on age-appropriate self-control at the age of three would benefit significantly in later life. People who did not have a lot of self-control as children had more problems later in life. They are more often affected by drug addiction, poverty and the propensity to crime, the US researchers report. Overall, according to the scientists, the effects of a rather unhealthy lifestyle could be observed among the less self-controlled participants.

Training can promote self-control
But the study also has positive news. Because uncontrolled people were able to compensate for their expected deficits in life development through personal training of self-control. The degree of self-control and thus also the later chances can obviously be influenced. For example, some of the study participants had managed to improve their self-control significantly with increasing age and were correspondingly more successful in adulthood than the scientists' original assessment suggested. The US researchers concluded that upbringing and training programs and concepts for strengthening self-controlled behavior could help to stem the development of socially negative behaviors. Based on their study, measures to increase self-control would have to be completely re-evaluated in the future. They not only help those affected to deal with specific situations better, they also increase their chances of success throughout life. Methods such as autogenic training, tai chi, yoga or meditation, which specifically contribute to increasing self-control, could therefore make a significant contribution to successful living. The discipline in relation to the shaping of life plays a greater role than the intelligence, is firmly anchored in most of the teachings and so the results of the US researchers are hardly surprising. (fp)

Image: Gerd Altmann / /

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