Effortful Control

Temperament has been defined by psychologist Mary Rothbart and her colleagues as involving biologically based individual differences in reactivity and self-regulation. Effortful control is a dimension of temperament that reflects the abilities, across the life span, to willfully control attention, behavior, and emotion to accomplish goals. More specifically, effortful control involves the abilities to plan activities, engage in selected behavior, and direct behavior voluntarily. The voluntary nature of effortful control is important, as effortful control is distinct from reactive or automatic control. Although effortful control reflects the ability to choose behavior flexibly and adapt behavior to situational demands, reactive control reflects other kinds of motivations, such as fear of punishment. Although effortful control has been studied in childhood more than at later points in development, ...

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