Does your spouse often make rash decisions and enjoy spur-of-the-moment activities? Is your wife or husband lacking in self-control? If so, you may be rolling your eyes thinking of all of the conflicts this behavior has caused. But according to a recent study conducted at VU University Amsterdam in the Netherlands, people with low self-control may actually be less selfish. “We did not believe that this was true in every context, and especially not in close relationships,” said Francesca Righetti, lead researcher on the study.
Righetti and her team enlisted couples and explained that they would have to interview 12 complete strangers about embarrassing situations. The experiment was a ruse, and although the couples did not have to complete the task, Righetti wanted to know how each partner would assume the uncomfortable responsibility assigned to them.
The results revealed that those with high levels of self-control and low impulsivity chose to share the burden equally with their partners, but did not offer to do more. However, those with high levels of impulsivity and low self-control freely chose to interview more than their six assigned strangers so as to lessen the burden to their partners.
Righetti followed up that experiment with a second one that examined how self-control affected sacrifice in relationships and forgiveness. She found that even though impulsive partners were willing to give up their own time and comfort for their partners, they were not quick to forgive transgressions.
Righetti believes that individuals rely on self-control to look at the bigger picture of the relationship and those with low self-control may stay focused on the transgression and be unable to readily forgive. Regardless, these findings show that impulsive individuals may make great partners in the short term. But in the long run, low self-control and lack of personal assertiveness could result in dissatisfaction and a very unbalanced sense of power within the relationship.
Low self-control promotes selfless behavior in close relationships. Science Daily (n.d.): n. pag. Web. sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130627142553.htm
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