Virtue and Character Development in Adolescents: The Relationship Among Self-Control, Patience, and Religion
One distinct area of virtue development where the fields of psychology and religion intersect is the relation between religiousness and the virtues of self-regulation and patience. This study builds upon the strength model of self-regulation, which posits that self-control, a distinct aspect of self-regulatory behavior, is a domain independent resource that can be depleted through use but also be increased through habitual practice, much like a muscle is exhausted through exercise but grows stronger over time (Baumeister, Vohs, & Tice, 2007). Although previous studies have focused on self-control and patience with adults, few studies have researched these instrumental virtues in adolescents. In this study, researchers surveyed 342 adolescents, from private and charter schools. Of this sample, 59.6% were female and 65% identified as Protestant Christian. Participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 intervention conditions: Daily Scheduling, Non-Dominant Hand, or Social Reappraisal. They were asked to rate their intervention activities as successful, enjoyable, and difficult. They were also prompted to identify their God concept. Findings indicated that when adolescents in the non-dominant hand condition rated their activities as high in success, they increased in regulatory behavior. Surprisingly, the daily schedule tracking intervention condition, which was supposed to serve as a study control, resulted in increased patience when ratings were high in success. God concept was found to be a significant moderator of self-control related to temptation resistance, which was consistent with previous studies’ findings.
Schnitker, Sarah A.
Personality development, Virtue, Theological virtues, Teenagers, Patience, Self-control in adolescence
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