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Scientific Secrets for Self-Control | [The Great Courses]

Scientific Secrets for Self-Control

Join an expert in self-control research for six engaging and inspirational lessons that shatter the myths about willpower and replace them with verifiable science that can make the seemingly unattainable finally possible. Packed with eye-opening studies, experiments, and exercises to strengthen your self-control when dealing with money, fitness, personal relationships, and more, this course will have you wondering why you ever doubted yourself.

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Publisher's Summary

Join an expert in self-control research for six engaging and inspirational lessons that shatter the myths about willpower and replace them with verifiable science that can make the seemingly unattainable finally possible. Packed with eye-opening studies, experiments, and exercises to strengthen your self-control when dealing with money, fitness, personal relationships, and more, this course will have you wondering why you ever doubted yourself.

Whether you're looking for new ways to resist temptation, make a strong first impression, or better control your emotions, this is your guide to understanding—and mastering—what is a frequently misunderstood subject. In clear language, your award-winning professor introduces you to the general theories behind self-control: what it is, how it works, and how you can take steps to improve it.

Among the topics you'll investigate:

  • How researchers discovered that delayed gratification can lead to better individual well-being in everything from higher self-worth to less sensitivity to rejection
  • One of the most influential theories about how self-control works - the limited resource model, which argues that self-control relies on limited energy that becomes depleted after use
  • How scientists discovered the link between the prefrontal cortex and aggression, and how people at risk for violent anger show abnormalities in that region of the brain.

Alongside groundbreaking scientific findings and research, you'll get personal exercises, activities, and thought experiments you can use to practice strengthening your self-control skills to meet whatever specific goals you want to achieve.

Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

©2013 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2013 The Great Courses

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (458 )
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  •  
    DaemonZeiro Burlington, VT 07-11-13
    DaemonZeiro Burlington, VT 07-11-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Don't skimp on this one"

    This one starts out alright but there are a LOT of things that one can find wrong with the experiments spoken about later on. This is only 3hrs but it's worth even less, about 45min. Instead, skip this truncated summation of psychological experiments and suggestions to do illogical things for training purposes and go straight to "The Willpower Instinct" which contains descriptions of all the best psychological studies AND realistic ways of both understanding and improving upon your willpower.

    96 of 101 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jake 09-24-14
    Jake 09-24-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Sometimes the secret is that the chest is empty..."
    Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor C. Nathan DeWall?

    No. The content was very loose but I have other titles of "The Great Courses" which I enjoyed. For a more detailed review, please see below.


    Has Scientific Secrets for Self-Control turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No. Other books deserve consideration based on their content, not the lack of substance from this series.


    What three words best describe Professor C. Nathan DeWall’s voice?

    Average, Acceptable, Level


    Was Scientific Secrets for Self-Control worth the listening time?

    No. I didn't finish this audio book. I decided to stop committing time to this book on my commute toward the end of Chapter 4, finally losing the last reserves of self control required to listen to what amounted to pretty much nothing. Most of the information is common sense. There are a few relevant take away's which, while interesting, aren't backed up with any significant findings. Or they exist amid a sea of repetitive, irrelevant "facts". The narrator often states phrases such as, "the research supports", or "in a recent study". I do not require countless references or plugs to specific researchers or institutions, but with only 2 direct references to the "studies", I felt the information wasn't credible.

    The narrator doesn't even go as far as to beg the question. He makes a statement such as, "Do monkeys show signs of self control?" Follows with a few examples, all of which are preceded by, "A research" or "A study". Then finishes with, "yes, they do show self control". The true issue here is that it doesn't just happen once. He then moves on to another mammal and tells the exact same story. This methodical approach happens often throughout, and it doesn't take long before you realize you haven't actually learned anything.


    Any additional comments?

    There simply isn't much here. It happens. I was skeptical of the newest wave of courses due to their low times, and after reading a few similar reviews, may be less eager to purchase the next one. However, I have had very good luck with some of the longer volumes. They seemed to have more attention to detail and spent time addressing specific concepts rather than repeating broad generalizations.

    77 of 81 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris 01-21-14
    Chris 01-21-14 Member Since 2007
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    "Science was never so uninteresting."
    What disappointed you about Scientific Secrets for Self-Control?

    All of the studies, none of the numbers. Why bother mentioning all of the studies if you are not going to go into any of the details. Not a single factual number is presented. All of the lectures could be summed up in about 3 sentences of common sense. Dan Ariely - Predictably Irrational and books like that give the science and you get a view into what actually happened during the experiments. Not simply, "you know what 'More People' did this, Less people did that" I had to turn the lecture off. This will be the only audible book I will have returned for a refund. The Great Courses has some great professors, Robert Greenberg is amazing. He is a great presenter, story teller, he understands how to hold someones interest even in a very difficult subject. I swear I was being tricked. I must use my self control not to turn this OFF.


    Would you ever listen to anything by The Great Courses again?

    Anything from Robert Greenberg is amazing so far.


    How could the performance have been better?

    Present some actual experiments with the numbers the facts the details. Not "Turns Out...." The professor sounds somewhat bored with the whole thing. Give some real life examples, inspiring anecdotes, liven this dud of a subject up.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointment


    34 of 36 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Saud 11-27-13
    Saud 11-27-13

    Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.

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    "A series of studies"

    If you're looking for a self-help course for self-control, this is not it. This is a course that looks at and analyzes scientific studies to understand the variables regarding self control in various individuals, both internally and externally. A good overview if you are already familiar with the experiments, which can also be an introduction for you to look deeper.

    If anything, it could have been longer and give each experiment more time.

    19 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John M. Kellum Seattle, WA 07-18-13
    John M. Kellum Seattle, WA 07-18-13 Member Since 2015
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    ""Mr Rogers Lite" talks about self control"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Disappointed pretty much across the board. Wanted to like it and actually renewed by Platinum membership for the 2sd time in 2013 and this was the first book i pulled down.
    Content was nothing that anyone interesting in area would not already have know or found out from reading an old Psychology Today in the dentist office.
    Their may have been a table of contents but I didn't feel like it reflected a clear model.
    Still quite angry I spend a credit on this and had to give up 2/3 way into the lecture and I not doing a good job but just so don't want to invest any more time ..
    Just listen to a sample first...

    btw - unless I mistaken Mr Rogers uses the phrase "most easiest" somewhere in 2sd or 3rd chapter...
    better suggestions welcomed.
    john


    What was most disappointing about The Great Courses’s story?

    Dumbed down delivery on top of simplistic content


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Felt like he was talking to remedial Freshman class ...


    Any additional comments?

    Waited two days to write and while I sure Prof DeWall is nice guy and many love him as a professor considering the intro but still hate I wasted so much time before giving up.

    22 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 01-02-15 Member Since 2013

    Eric Steinig

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    "Study of the Obvious"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    someone without much intuition and experience in life.


    Would you ever listen to anything by The Great Courses again?

    I love the Great Courses, and was hoping for more from this course.


    Any additional comments?

    This book does no more than state the obvious, and tries to make it sound as though exhaustive research was needed to learn what most people already know.
    Example: You have more will power when you are not exhausted. (duh!)
    Example: People with low will power don't do well in life. (duh!)
    Example: Practicing will power will make you better at employing will power. (duh!)

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard 07-04-14
    Richard 07-04-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Uninspiring"
    Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor C. Nathan DeWall?

    Professor DeWall's use of the English language ruins whatever value there might be in this course. This was painful to listen to. I gave up and asked for a return.


    What didn’t you like about Professor C. Nathan DeWall’s performance?

    The immature use of English was disturbing.


    8 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Prsilla 02-15-15
    Prsilla 02-15-15 Member Since 2014

    Retired to mountains of California. Sell on eBay as Prsilla. No TV. Volunteer in wildlife rehab. Knit, sew or embroider while listening.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Superbly Enlightening -- Thank You, Dr. DeWall!"

    Wow! I can't believe all the brats who found these lectures boring or unhelpful, etc. I thought the material followed along nicely, was most interesting and quite helpful. The narration is clear. This material helps me understand not only myself but also other people. I would have enjoyed some "fur instances" because that's how my own brain works. When I hear a general rule, my thoughts wander off to examples. Maybe I enjoyed this because I'm an old lady. I had bouncing good energy as a youngster, and I'm still fit and feisty. However, I am noticing levels of energy which fluctuate. After a bus accident in which I was slammed several feet, I hadn't the energy to dispute with a do-gooder woman who ferried me to the doctor, grocery and drug store. She had an agenda, which I realized but I hadn't the strength to protest. As I healed, my unique personhood began to emerge. I told her how grateful I was. Alas, the friendship didn't last. She said I was a "user."

    These lectures gave me priceless insight into something dramatic that happened recently. I was communicating by email with some people who care about wildlife. They are planning a gift for someone. I gave my ideas about the gift and was told that people had already donated toward the hefty pricetag and nothing could be changed. I commented that it looked like an ego trip on their part. Before it was over, I snapped and put together four very bad words, applying them to this lah-di-dah bear-lover person and her group. I was the only one of the group who actually moved to Tahoe to volunteer. The rest may be donating, but I depleted my nestegg to move, and I am the one who shovels the poop. Still, I refuse to dispute with other bear-lovers. Before it was over, I had bailed from the group, unfriended 9 people and 2 groups on FaceBook. I know how kids feel when they're bullied on FB. Empty and sick at heart, with few options. . . . I had been wondering why I snapped the way I did. I hated being belittled for being low-income because I'm educated; I have a good background: Sunday school, good grades, college, military, and work all my life. One of the people sided with the drama queen, comforting her to just "consider the source." The source? Yeah, me. So what happened? What happened was that all this happened late at night and I live in subsidized housing with a complete Nazi for a manager. Just living here with cameras up and down the halls, manager playing favorites, all manner of "nonsense and hoo-rah," is what happened. I am trying to preserve this precious energy and use it for creative work and doing my life, interacting with knitting and wildlife and church friends. I have detached as much as possible from the apartment community, receiving packages at a commercial facility and doing laundry up the street. When I have to go near Manager's office, I wear sunglasses and speak as little as possible. I may wave or pat a special friend on the shoulder. They know who they are. So this is how it happened. Those four bad words seemed to come out of nowhere. I have never before used them like that.

    So, it appears that I need to 1) eat breakfast, 2) get enough sleep, 3) carry good nibbles, especially protein, 4) close down in the evening and turn off the computer, don't make any big decisions and don't go online and buy anything! Also to challenge myself in the ways suggested, to strengthen self-control. The material about interactions with people of other races is wonderful and challenging. It will take more listens. Thank you, Dr. DeWall!

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heath SEATTLE, WA, United States 01-03-15
    Heath SEATTLE, WA, United States 01-03-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Offers very few practical suggestions"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Change in content or title. The content is about studies around self control that prove two obvious points: (1) making good decisions requires self control, (2) exercising self control makes you happier and more successful, (3) exercising self control takes mental energy, so (a) you have more self control when you have more mental energy, and (b) you have less self control when you have less mental energy.There is very little in the way of secrets for self control , i.e., tips for how to have more or better self control. The few that come out are (1) don't make choices when you're hungry or tired (put off the decision until you eat or get some sleep), and (2) minimize your distractions when making choices.


    Has Scientific Secrets for Self-Control turned you off from other books in this genre?

    I'll be much more wary about buying anything from The Great Courses.


    What three words best describe Professor C. Nathan DeWall’s performance?

    Stilted, bright, superficial (i.e., not deep)


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointment. Kept listening hoping that he would get into more concrete tips. Instead, he literally kept repeating the premise that when people have more self control energy they make better decisions or do better in (insert context) and when people have less self control energy they make worse decisions and are less satisfied in (insert context).


    Any additional comments?

    The interesting part of this might be hearing various experiments that prove commonsense ideas, but even the experiments aren't that interesting (eat one marshmallow now or two later, see a word that is a color, but printed in a different color). These don't provide much concrete help.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard B. Chicago 05-01-15
    Richard B. Chicago 05-01-15 Member Since 2014

    "It's been agony, but I couldn't have done it any other way." - Quentin Crisp

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    "Basic presentation with a few interesting parts"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I think this book is best for a listener who enjoys being spoken to as though he or she were a child. It will probably be more interesting if you've never taken a college psychology course in your life.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The narrator spoke in a very deliberate tone that I found patronizing. I was constantly feeling like the presentation was addressed toward a room full of middle schoolers.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I really did like the sections about stereotypes.


    Any additional comments?

    There is a cliché that when your only tool is a hammer everything will look like a nail. I felt that this professor's single-minded presentation left out a lot of key information, for example how some of the same congenital and early life experiences that lead to poor impulse control can have strong effects on one's life trajectory. There is a moment where he concedes that he is merely pointing out a correlation where there is not necessarily evidence or a cause-effect relationship. I felt like that should be the disclaimer for the entire presentation.

    Overall, I found it kind of dull and simplistic, but I may go back and revisit the sections where he talks about stereotypes.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • terry
    Kings Langley, United Kingdom
    8/15/13
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    Performance
    Story
    "Great idea!!"

    I bought six titles from The Great Courses lectures and just wanted to say what an excellent idea this is.

    Non-fiction books, even on an interesting topic, can sometimes be boring, repetitive and overly long. But in lecture form I've found them incredibly engaging. I really have a sense of what it would be like attend a lecture in an auditorium.

    This is my first title and I'm really enjoying it.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
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