automatically transferred from one context to the next so that the very same skills that serve a person well in the social arena, for example, serve the person well in health decisions and in schooling and academics. Furthermore, he added, these skills ultimately contribute to adaptive behavior and productivity in that they counteract undesired influences that may arise from within the person or from the environment. Intrapersonal skills support volitional behavior, which Hoyle defined as discretionary behavior aimed at accomplishing the goals an individual sets for himself or herself. Examples of intrapersonal skills include attributes such as planfulness, self-discipline, delay of gratification, the ability to deal with and overcome distractions, and the ability to adjust one’s strategy or approach as needed. In Hoyle’s view, the common thread among these attributes is a skill called self-regulation.

Even though the field of psychology has studied self-regulation since the late 1960s, Hoyle said, disagreement about how to define it remains. To provide the audience with the broad spectrum of definitions, he presented varying points of view that four prominent researchers have put forth:


  • “The capacity of individuals to guide themselves, in any way possible, toward important goal states” (Fitzsimons and Bargh, 2004)
  • “The capacity to plan, guide, and monitor one’s behavior flexibly in the face of changing circumstances” (Brown, 1998)
  • “Self-generated thoughts, feelings, and actions that are planned and cyclically adapted to the attainment of personal goals” (Zimmerman, 2000)
  • “The process by which one monitors, directs attention, maintains, and modifies behaviors to approach a desirable goal” (Ilkowska and Engle, 2010)

Hoyle identified some common threads among the definitions. They all recognize that people need to monitor their behavior and that they are doing this in the service of goal pursuit. In addition, they all acknowledge that flexibility is needed. Most importantly, they all involve affect. Hoyle emphasized that self-regulation does not just involve cognition but also involves feelings and emotions.

Hoyle prefers the following definition: the processes by which people remain on course in their pursuit of the goals they have adopted. In some cases, such as a school setting, these goals may not be the student’s own, but they are put before students. The question is if they capable and ready to do the things that need to be done to pursue those goals and to move forward on them.

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