High Self-Control Predicts Good Adjustment, Less Pathology, Better Grades, and Interpersonal Success


  • June P. Tangney and Angie Luzio Boone, Department of Psychology George Mason University; Roy F. Baumeister, Department of Psychology, Case Western Reserve University.

  • This research was supported by a research grant from the John Templeton Foundation and by research grant #MH-57039 from the National Institutes of Health. We thank Ronda Dearing for assistance with data analysis.

Address correspondence to June P. Tangney, Dept. of Psychology, George Mason University, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax VA, 22030-4444.


What good is self-control? We incorporated a new measure of individual differences in self-control into two large investigations of a broad spectrum of behaviors. The new scale showed good internal consistency and retest reliability. Higher scores on self-control correlated with a higher grade point average, better adjustment (fewer reports of psychopathology, higher self-esteem), less binge eating and alcohol abuse, better relationships and interpersonal skills, secure attachment, and more optimal emotional responses. Tests for curvilinearity failed to indicate any drawbacks of so-called overcontrol, and the positive effects remained after controlling for social desirability. Low self-control is thus a significant risk factor for a broad range of personal and interpersonal problems.