Scientific Secrets for Self-Control

Course No. 1637
Professor C. Nathan DeWall, Ph.D.
University of Kentucky
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2.9 out of 5
65 Reviews
52% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 1637
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Course Overview

We’ve all said it to ourselves at one point or another: “If only I had more willpower, I could do the things I really want to do.” Having the mental fortitude to reach your goals, whether they concern your job, your personal finances, your skills at a hobby, or even your waistline, seems forever unattainable. But here’s the truth: Greater willpower and lasting success actually well within your reach.

It all depends on an understanding of the science behind self-control. Long thought to be nothing but myth, the connection between your mind, your body, and your behaviors and emotions actually has powerful scientific evidence behind it. And once you’ve grasped the fundamentals of self-control and learned how to incorporate them into your personal life, you’ll find yourself in possession of a powerful tool for

  • becoming more goal oriented,
  • thinking more positively and constructively,
  • avoiding the negative health effects of emotional baggage and common stressors,
  • beating back self-doubt, and
  • facing the challenges of today and tomorrow with greater confidence in yourself.

Join Professor C. Nathan DeWall, an award-winning teacher and expert in self-control research, for Scientific Secrets for Self-Control. In just six engaging and inspirational lessons, you’ll get a chance to shatter the myths about willpower and replace them with verifiable science that will help make the seemingly unattainable finally possible. Packed with eye-opening studies, experiments, and exercises to strengthen your self-control when dealing with money, physical fitness, personal relationships, and more, this course will have you wondering why you ever doubted yourself.

Investigate Self-Control alongside an Expert

Whether you’re looking for new ways to resist temptation, make a strong first impression, or better control your emotions, Scientific Secrets for Self-Control is your guide to understanding—and mastering—this mysterious, frequently misunderstood subject. In clear and accessible language, Professor DeWall introduces you to the general theories behind self-control: what it is, how it works, and how you can take steps to improve it.

The individual lectures in this course cover a fascinating range of issues related to self-control. Among the topics you’ll have a chance to explore and investigate in the company of an expert:

  • 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 a risk for violent anger show abnormalities in that region of the brain
  • The argument that humans continue to stereotype other people into general groups (boys/girls, old/young, white/non-white, skinny/overweight) as a mental conservation strategy

Strengthen Your Self-Control Skills


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. Each one of Professor DeWall’s lectures concludes with one or two exercises specific to a particular topic (such as aggression, first impressions, delayed gratification).

  • To psychologically recharge your depleted self-control energy, write down your core values and why they matter; self-affirmation is a great way to boost your self-control.
  • Make a plan before entering a tempting environment. For example, before going to a restaurant, look at the menu online so you can plan a strategy to avoid foods you shouldn’t eat.
  • Don’t make any major relationship decisions after you’ve experienced a long, taxing day. Having adequate self-control energy is crucial to making clear, rational decisions you won’t later regret.

These and other exercises are more than just engaging ways for you to practice self-control. They’re highly insightful examples of just how central self-control is to almost everything that you do in your life.

Finally Overcome Challenges and Obstacles

Professor DeWall is at the top of his game in Scientific Secrets for Self-Control, and you’ll quickly see why this popular instructor has earned such acclaim for his teaching and his ideas. The Association for Psychological Science has called Professor DeWall a “rising star” in psychological research, and he has received honors and awards including the Outstanding Teacher Award from the University of Kentucky’s College of Arts and Science and a SAGE Young Scholars Award from the Foundation for Personality and Social Psychology.

Add that caliber of instruction to this course’s helpful 3-D animations and use of green screen technology, and these lessons are a dynamic experience, particularly when enjoyed in visual formats.

By turns inspiring, supportive, informative, and enlightening, Professor DeWall has crafted a wonderful course that serves as an invaluable source of support for finally overcoming the obstacles in your life and reaching your true potential.

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6 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Why Is It So Hard to Do What We Should?
    Critical to understanding self-control: understanding why we often fail at it. First, Professor DeWall explains one of the most influential models about how self-control works, and the two classic experiments that tested this model. Then, learn why depleted energy causes us to show poor self-control and how our individual characteristics shape this energy. x
  • 2
    Self-Control Successes and Failures
    What are the secrets behind mastering self-control in your life? Why are specific individuals, from politicians to civil rights leaders, widely considered heroes of self-control? Why does it help to think of self-control as working like an internal thermostat? You’ll find answers to these provocative questions and more here. x
  • 3
    Marshmallows, Monkeys, and Mortality
    In this lecture, go inside the famous “marshmallow experiment” at Stanford University and its revelations about delayed gratification; learn how delaying gratification is important even for primates and dogs; and probe general differences in self-control and its effects on everything from mental health to wealth accumulation to an early death. x
  • 4
    Taming the Impulsive Beast
    Many critics and pundits argue that we live in the most peaceful time in history. So why is aggression still so prevalent around the world? Encounter several core components of self-control, two of which explain why most people commonly refrain from aggressive behavior and one of which explains why aggression still exists. x
  • 5
    First Impressions and Stereotypes
    Why do we tend to mimic one another during our social interactions? Why do we feel that we “gel” with certain people and seek out stronger relationships with those individuals? Why do interactions with different people deplete us of our self-control energy? Join Professor DeWall for an illuminating investigation of these and other questions. x
  • 6
    Romance, Finance, and Your Environment
    Learn how to apply your newfound knowledge of self-control to your romantic relationships, your financial decisions, and your surroundings. As you cover topics including recent studies on happiness and self-control in relationships and the importance of playing offense against your environment, you’ll gain invaluable skills that will promote stronger self-awareness. x

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Your professor

C. Nathan DeWall

About Your Professor

C. Nathan DeWall, Ph.D.
University of Kentucky
Dr. C. Nathan DeWall is Professor of Psychology at the University of Kentucky. He earned an M.A. in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago, and an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Florida State University. Winner of the Outstanding Teacher Award from the University of Kentucky's College of Arts and Science, Professor DeWall was named a ìrising starî in psychological research by the Association for...
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Reviews

Scientific Secrets for Self-Control is rated 2.9 out of 5 by 65.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course, negative reviews are wrong I thought this course was incredibly helpful and I'm not sure why some people didn't like it. The main thing I got out of the course was the importance of tracking my mental energy, and taking steps to make sure that I won't make bad decisions when my mental energy is low. I already have noticed improvements in my life, and recommend this course highly.
Date published: 2018-05-21
Rated 1 out of 5 by from I have bought many great courses and so far have been always happy with it. But this course is just horrible. It is absolutely boring and makes you feel as if you were a first grader, as the professor repeats himself all over again and again. His examples are way too long and repetitive. It takes forever until he comes to a point if at all.
Date published: 2018-04-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good - but why no written material I found this a very interesting and useful course. The professor discusses in some detail the scientific experiments which underpin the advice he gives, so I suppose some might find this approach slower and dryer than a straightforward "how to" course. Personally I found the background descriptions helpful but I would have liked accompanying notes to review the lectures and to isolate the key take-home advice.
Date published: 2017-11-25
Rated 1 out of 5 by from First and LAST Great Course Why is there a man standing at the fridge? I thought this course would help with eating impulses. Instead, in the section titled "Taming the Impulse Beast," I was treated to babble about people who cannot control their aggressive behavior. I learned nothing. What a WASTE of money. This was my first course, it will be my last, and I will warn others who may be thinking of ordering. He talked soooo slow, it was meant to fill up the time, and I found it very annoying. Count me out!
Date published: 2017-08-12
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointed I was disappointed with this course. Let me summarize the message so you don't have to watch the lessons. We all have a limited amount of Self-Control, so use it wisely. We can increase our Self-Control by exerting more Self-Control (although that's never shown in any scientific studies). Last, when you are "depleted of Self-Control energy", it's more difficult to exert Self-Control. That's it! The exercises are simplistic and presented without evidence that they are effective (use your non-dominant hand for a week and this will increase your Self-Control). Really? Furthermore, the speaker has a style of slow - speech - that - I - find - annoying. Please talk faster and get through all this in three lectures.
Date published: 2017-08-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enli!ghtening Very enlightening program. Neuroscience combined with psychology, presented in a concise manner with visuals makes this program very useful. Am planning to watch it again with my notepad handy.
Date published: 2017-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Self control is so important! Excellent speaker! Why self-control is so important and how to improve it.
Date published: 2017-07-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I found the first three chapters dry, but the next three chapters made up for it.
Date published: 2017-03-02
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Most important part... Self-control starts from the family; how he or she rose, the moment child is born… This is most important part in the life of the person how he or she will perform in the future. What is a roll of environment?
Date published: 2017-02-23
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Scientific Secrets for Self-Control I myself was a bit disappointed with the content of this course. Maybe I should have read the course description more carefully. I would not discount this course for others though. I have completed other Great Courses and was very satisfied. I also see that I can exchange this course for another one. for the most part Great Courses is a high quality product with good customer service. I will definitely continue to educate myself through them
Date published: 2017-02-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not My Favorite From the couple of short personal improvement courses I have purchased, they don't seem to offer as much as the history, music and math courses I have. What they are promoting as new ways of dealing with issues are methods that have been around for years. There is no new information and therefore, no new inspiration. The professor, C. Nathan DeWall, is young and not yet a speaker. He talks about his writing, but he sounds as though he has just finished a speaking course and not practiced enough to be comfortable. He needs to loosen up a lot. Robert Greenberg is the opposite. He is very relaxed, sometimes too much so, but his lectures have new information and his cadence keeps your attention.
Date published: 2016-12-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from While it took a long time to get to the point it was a useful course, though only a few important conclusions identified to improve self-control.
Date published: 2016-10-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Scientific Secrets of Self Control The material was presented through a series of sociological studies which he thoroughly detailed - too thoroughly - and he was a flat out boring speaker. It was worth watching but tough going due to speaker's personal presentation style.
Date published: 2016-07-17
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not Great This course was not 'great .' Mediocre course content and delivery.
Date published: 2016-06-30
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Don't waste your time I regret not having perused the previous reviews on this course prior to ordering. The entire 3 hours could have been condensed into 15-20 minutes and even then it wouldn't qualify as suitable as a Great Course offering. The information was trite and obvious, for the most part. The instructor never uttered a word where his hands didn't move, he spoke slowly, he was extremely repetitious as that, apparently, was the only way to stretch the course out to the minimum 6 lessons. I plan to call and hopefully get credit for something of worth. This course should be removed as it reflects poorly on your overall great quality, I don't expect this very negative review to be published. I think the other reviewers have done an excellent job. Thank you
Date published: 2016-06-17
Rated 1 out of 5 by from scientific secrets to self-control After having taken five previous Great Courses that were worth every penny I spent and every minute of my time this one was deeply disappointing. Alternating between stating the painfully obvious as if it were profound and engaging in worthless psycho-babble this course is a waste of time. The logic is often flawed, the studies cited are poorly set up, and it was a challenge to my self-control to finish the course. Stay away from this one.
Date published: 2016-06-11
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Pass on this one The first 2 lectures had a few helpful strategies for self control, but it was downhill from there on out. My mental self-control energy is depleted after listening to these lectures !! It is exhausting !! Many examples of psychological studies that really have little practical value.
Date published: 2016-04-07
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Who Knew! Who knew being tired or stressed could cause a lack of self control! I was very disappointed in this course. It did not provide the kind of information I was expecting from the course description. Some of the material was interesting but it basically boiled down to this, those who lack the most self control are those who are tired or stressed. To gain more control, get some rest! I think most people recognize that fact without needing scientific studies to back it up!
Date published: 2016-02-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Valuable Self-control principles presented are easy to understand and apply. We loved the challenge presented by this course and are pleased with the resulting benefits.
Date published: 2016-01-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from OK despite not meeting promises in description I found the information in this course interesting, and in some cases really worth thinking about. I'm not sorry I bought it and listened to it. However it was unlike what the course blurb describes -- in fact, I'm so mad about the snake oil promises made in that blurb that I wish The Teaching Company would fire whoever is writing those descriptions (someone who either has not reviewed the course, or who is just plain dishonest). One example: the blurb emphasizes positive self-control achievements, attaining goals, etc. But the greater emphasis of the research findings reported in the course focus on self-control in a negative sense -- what helps people NOT DO what they want not to do, rather than what helps them DO what they want to achieve. In that sense, there is more in this course for people who want to break bad habits than there is for people who want to establish new good habits.
Date published: 2015-08-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Close but no cigar Compared to the courses I've gotten in the past (which admittedly cost more so I'm sure there's a correlation there), this was far less comprehensive. It started off well enough, but as it went on, it got more and more vague. Studies were done showing x, but I'd really have preferred some citations to go back and find the studies rather than just blindly believe the assertions. The Secrets of Sleep Science course was very good at saying who was working on what where, and that provides a great deal more credibility. Also, he slipped away from the science here and there to draw conclusions that didn't seem backed up by the presentation. You get what you pay for, and for what I paid, it was fine, and I did learn some things, but this is an important topic, and I feel it got short shrift.
Date published: 2015-05-27
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Lacks practical informaiton The author is well versed in studies that have been completed. He quotes these studies consistently through the course. As a matter of fact, much too much. The course was short on the practical information that I purchased the course for. The final touch for me was the instructors dissertation on racism. It was totally out of place and I can only think that the instructor wanted to use this course as a stage to make a statement.
Date published: 2014-12-03
Rated 1 out of 5 by from The Video Special Effects Will Make You Seasick You will love these videos if you enjoy your academic lectures with non-stop camera panning across fake "green screen" virtual sets... miscellaneous getty images flying across the screen heralded by "swooshing" sound effects... and bullet point lists popping up to punctuate the narrative. Get the audio version if you can't stomach the nausea that comes from concentrating on a college lecture about psychology while riding a roller coaster.
Date published: 2014-11-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Dumbing down... We are not that stupid! Dr. DeWall was poorly organized, dull, and demeaning. This course is an insult to the adult learner. We are not dumb, not stupid, and truly want to learn. What happened to the "great" in Great Courses? This is a dumbing down of a very interesting topic. Even my five year old had difficult listening to this professor talk--and this was surprising, since the lecturer appears to believe we are in that age group. Come on T.C.--what is going on with the quality of your courses?
Date published: 2014-11-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from weed and 2XDUI It is true that people do change, for the better or the worse, but this video was created after Phelps' "weed" incident and a DUI charge in 2004. In light of Michael Phelps' recent (Sept. 2014) run-ins with the law, the producer may consider deleting the part where Phelps was extolled as a man of great self-discipline/ control.
Date published: 2014-10-13
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Boring I found Professor DeWall very boring, there was no booklet with the DVD and far too much time was spent on where problems of self-control stem from and for me, not much about real resolutions to those problems. I feel my money was wasted on a DVD that could have been better spent on a book on the subject.
Date published: 2014-10-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Fascinating material I enjoyed the course. Learning how psychological studies work is a little creepy but interesting. Understanding and what the results actually reveal is fascinating.
Date published: 2014-10-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting Material But Looking For More Tools I enjoyed the Scientific Secrets for Self-Control. Professor Nathan DeWall's review of scientific experiments used in the field of self-control was interesting. I was looking for more tools and methods to improve self-control, which could be applied to work environments. In my area of work, i am tasked with implementing standard work and process procedures in many different business environments. I feel the class help me understand, why so many people struggle with these type of standards. but few tools to imrprove the process.
Date published: 2014-09-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant! An Easy Way Into A Challenging Subject OK, let me get this off my chest: With respect, I must say the reviews that find this class too light miss the point. I bought it because it was an easy path into the work of Baumeister ("Willpower") and others, lectures I could listen to over and over again, even when I didn't have the self-control, willpower, energy--or whatever you want to call it--to get started. That's always the hardest part, to get started. This class is an easy start. Not only that, but Professor DeWall gives bite-sized exercises that appear to be conducive to big improvements in one's self-control. I've done mindfulness meditation for decades, and that seems similar to DeWall's exercises from the self-control angle, and I'm looking forward to practicing his complete-sentence and posture exercises. I think all the new studies giving scientific validation to meditation and neuroplasticity theories show that sometimes simpler is better when it comes to changing the brain. I plan to listen to this course again immediately, and then a third time. If I can agree with any of the negative reviews at that point, I'll come back and confess my initial error. It's worth testing.
Date published: 2014-08-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Lower your expectations There are some helpful ideas in this short course but overall it delivers less than we might expect or hope for. One problem is that it depends almost entirely on findings from laboratory studies, most of which are described in general terms but without much information as to the sample size or strength of the findings or even the names of the researchers. As a result, it is hard to place much confidence in the results or in the instructor's recommendations for applying those results to our own lives. Also, some of the recommendations seem inconsistent with each other. For example, does exercising self control deplete our ability to resist temptation, as stated throughout the course, or rather does it strengthen that ability, as we are told near the end of lecture 5 when exercises involving posture and use of the non-dominant hand are recommended? I would recommend this course only when it is available at a deep discount.
Date published: 2014-04-11
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