What is Self-Regulation In Behavioral Science?

What is Self-Regulation?

Self-Regulation is a key concept in behavioral science, referring to an individual’s capacity to manage their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors to achieve their goals. It involves the use of cognitive, affective, and behavioral processes to monitor and modulate one’s behavior to align with personal standards and societal expectations.


Self-Regulation is the ability to control one’s behavior, emotions, and thoughts in the pursuit of long-term goals. It involves the ability to delay gratification, resist short-term temptations and distractions, and navigate complex social behaviors.

Key Aspects

  • Goal-Directed Behavior

    Self-regulation involves directing and controlling one’s behavior in line with personal goals and values, even in the face of immediate temptations or distractions.

  • Emotional Regulation

    Self-regulation also includes managing and modulating one’s emotional responses, especially under stressful or challenging circumstances.

  • Cognitive Control

    Key cognitive processes involved in self-regulation include attention control, inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility.

Role in Behavioral Science

Self-Regulation is a central construct in various fields within behavioral science, including psychology, education, and health. It is critical for a variety of important outcomes, including academic achievement, mental health, physical health, and social competence.

Implications for Behavior Change

Understanding and enhancing self-regulation can be crucial for behavior change. Many common problems, such as procrastination, overeating, and substance abuse, can be viewed as failures of self-regulation. Interventions aimed at improving self-regulation might focus on goal setting, emotion regulation strategies, and cognitive control techniques.

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