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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 Ratings

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  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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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.

110 of 115 people found this review helpful

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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<br/>

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. <br/><br/>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.

105 of 110 people found this review helpful

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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

40 of 42 people found this review helpful

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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. <br/>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.<br/>Their may have been a table of contents but I didn't feel like it reflected a clear model.<br/>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 ..<br/>Just listen to a sample first... <br/><br/>btw - unless I mistaken Mr Rogers uses the phrase "most easiest" somewhere in 2sd or 3rd chapter...<br/>better suggestions welcomed.<br/>john<br/>

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.

24 of 27 people found this review helpful

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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.<br/>Example: You have more will power when you are not exhausted. (duh!)<br/>Example: People with low will power don't do well in life. (duh!)<br/>Example: Practicing will power will make you better at employing will power. (duh!)

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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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.

22 of 25 people found this review helpful

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  • Heath
  • SEATTLE, WA, United States
  • 01-03-15

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.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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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

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Can't recommend this one..

What would have made Scientific Secrets for Self-Control better?

The title, "Scientific Secrets for Self-Control" implies that scientific methods were utilized in the creation of this course. However, there were far too many sentences that started with statements like, "Studies have shown...", without any validation of the studies' conclusions or further discussion of opposing theories. Not very scientific at all, I felt.

Would you recommend Scientific Secrets for Self-Control to your friends? Why or why not?

Would not recommend this one simply because the conclusions reached (and therefore the resulting advice given) are not supported well enough.

Any additional comments?

Make the course a little longer and discuss the "science" behind the conclusions.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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What a surprise! So short but so useful!

This book is short. That's true.
But the lessons from this course are life changers. Even if common sense give us some clues, science is always better.
This time science give us secrets to a better life for us and our family.
This course deserves your attention.

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  • terry
  • 08-15-13

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.

9 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • jock
  • 06-30-15

nothing of merit

I listen to a lot of the great courses audio books, this one is short and lacks any real data of any use

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Maire Reier
  • 11-28-16

slow but good content

bit slow reading for my like. I feel I can handle easily information on a faster pace, and my mind would wander less if it was faster. the content is very good though, worth waiting through....

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-03-16

Great info

Some great nuggets of info in here provided in an easy to understand way. Good info on the topic.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-27-16

believe making friends requires to be false

sadly author obsessed and brainwashed about dieting and over exercising dangerous ideas and role models

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • a addison
  • 11-20-15

Very helpful

Well written well presented and very helpful good examples and easy to follow guidance enjoyed

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Sarah
  • 07-22-16

Just lots of studies and experiments

Not many practical or self helpful things, is what the title says it is though so it was great for that

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Daniel Kilov
  • 12-21-16

Good but basic

This was well presented but scant info compared to the books by baumeister, mcgonigal and mischel, for example.

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  • Bradley
  • 09-13-15

Good tips

Good ideas for how to improve your relationships through increased self control. Easy exercise for every day life.

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  • Ben Jones
  • 05-05-15

good, but simple.

this book has a very simple premise, that makes sense. Worth a read. you could just read a couple of chapters and get the idea, but the studies are interesting.