B is for Roy Baumeister: Self-Control and Willpower

Roy Baumeister talks about the importance of self-control and willpower. Many of the findings are included in the book he wrote with John Tierney.


Roy explains that the benefits of self-control include the following:

Success in school or work.

Good relationships – such as the ability to control your emotions in a positive way.

Happiness and less stress.

Ability to adjust to situations and maintain your mental health.

Physical health.

Good behaviour – rather than being abusive or committing crimes.


He underlines that:

“It is difficult to identify any major personal problems that do not have some element of self-control failure.”

Roy moves on to say that willpower is the energy supply for self-control and other aspects of life. People can apply their willpower in the areas of:


Decision making.

Taking initiatives.

Roy explains that a person’s willpower can fluctuate. For example:

Self-control depends on a limited energy supply, and each person’s willpower fluctuates during the day as various events deplete and then replenish it.

Decision-making and creative initiative also deplete the same willpower supply, while eating and sleeping can restore it.

Some circumstances propel people to perform well despite depleted willpower, including power and leadership roles, local incentives, and personal beliefs.

You can learn more about these ideas at this question and answer session with Roy.


Here is a shorter version of Roy’s talk. This comes from the Young Minds conference in Australia in 2012.

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