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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Role of self-control failure in immoral and unethical actions

Roy F Baumeister and Nawal G Alghamdi
Current Opinion in Psychology
Volume 6, December 2015, Pages 66–69

Moral virtue depends on self-control to override immoral impulses, so self-control failure can impair moral action. We discuss three components of self-control and how failure of any component can affect moral behavior. Lack of clear standards and lack of commitment to standards deprives the individual of clear inner guidance. Failure to monitor one's actions, as when self-awareness is low such as due to emotion or alcohol, deprives the individual of the ability to know whether behavior conforms to moral standards. Ego depletion signifies inadequate willpower to make oneself do what is right. Evidence supports these hypotheses but more is needed.


• Self-control underpins moral action.
• Unethical actions often reflect failure of self-control.
• Failures of self-control can be caused by unclear or conflicting standards, by failure to monitor relevant actions, and by ego depletion (loss of capacity to alter actions).

The article is here.