Self-Control and Academic Achievement

Posted: 18 Jan 2019

See all articles by Angela Duckworth

Angela Duckworth

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Psychology

Jamie L. Taxer

Stanford University - Psychology

Lauren Eskreis-Winkler

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Psychology

Brian M. Galla

University of Pittsburgh - School of Education

James Gross

Stanford University - Psychology

Date Written: January 2019

Abstract

Self-control refers to the alignment of thoughts, feelings, and actions with enduringly valued goals in the face of momentarily more alluring alternatives. In this review, we examine the role of self-control in academic achievement. We begin by defining self-control and distinguishing it from related constructs. Next, we summarize evidence that nearly all students experience conflict between academic goals that they value in the long run and nonacademic goals that they find more gratifying in the moment. We then turn to longitudinal evidence relating self-control to academic attainment, course grades, and performance on standardized achievement tests. We use the process model of self-control to illustrate how impulses are generated and regulated, emphasizing opportunities for students to deliberately strengthen impulses that are congruent with, and dampen impulses that are incongruent with, academic goals. Finally, we conclude with future directions for both science and practice.

Suggested Citation

Duckworth, Angela and Taxer, Jamie L. and Eskreis-Winkler, Lauren and Galla, Brian M. and Gross, James, Self-Control and Academic Achievement (January 2019). Annual Review of Psychology, Vol. 70, pp. 373-399, 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3318211 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-010418-103230

Angela Duckworth (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Psychology ( email )

3815 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6196
United States

Jamie L. Taxer

Stanford University - Psychology

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Lauren Eskreis-Winkler

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Psychology

3815 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6196
United States

Brian M. Galla

University of Pittsburgh - School of Education

United States

James Gross

Stanford University - Psychology ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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