Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Self-Control in Dogs and Humans

Thanks to Michael for sending the below paper on. It goes without saying that this paper has lots of potential follow-ups. If you hear barking near my office, you will know what's happening.

Self-Control Without a “Self”? Common Self-Control Processes in Humans and Dogs

Holly C. Miller,
Kristina F. Pattison,
C. Nathan DeWall,
Rebecca Rayburn-Reeves and
Thomas R. Zentall
+ Author Affiliations
University of Kentucky
Holly C. Miller, Department of Psychology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506-0044 E-mail:

Self-control constitutes a fundamental aspect of human nature. Yet there is reason to believe that human and nonhuman self-control processes rely on the same biological mechanism—the availability of glucose in the bloodstream. Two experiments tested this hypothesis by examining the effect of available blood glucose on the ability of dogs to exert self-control. Experiment 1 showed that dogs that were required to exert self-control on an initial task persisted for a shorter time on a subsequent unsolvable task than did dogs that were not previously required to exert self-control. Experiment 2 demonstrated that providing dogs with a boost of glucose eliminated the negative effects of prior exertion of self-control on persistence; this finding parallels a similar effect in humans. These findings provide the first evidence that self-control relies on the same limited energy resource among humans and nonhumans. Our results have broad implications for the study of self-control processes in human and nonhuman species.

1 comment:

Kevin Denny said...

Actually Liam, we have been secretely adding glucose to your drinks for some time now. But it doesn't seem to have reduced your barking. Need more prayer.