, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 283–296 | Cite as

Understanding Self-Control as a Whole vs. Part Dynamic

  • Kentaro FujitaEmail author
  • Jessica J. Carnevale
  • Yaacov Trope
Original Paper


Although dual-process or divided-mind models of self-control dominate the literature, they suffer from empirical and conceptual challenges. We propose an alternative approach, suggesting that self-control can be characterized by a fragmented part versus integrated whole dynamic. Whereas responses to events derived from fragmented parts of the mind undermine self-control, responses to events derived from integrated wholes enhance self-control. We review empirical evidence from psychology and related disciplines that support this model. We, moreover, discuss the implications of this work for psychology, neuroscience, economics, and philosophy. In particular, we highlight how this model addresses many of the conceptual and empirical short-comings of divided-mind models. We suggest that understanding self-control as the interplay between fragmented parts versus integrated wholes, moreover, provides novel insights and testable new hypotheses.


Self-control Self-governance Self-regulation Construal level theory Willpower Delay of gratification 



This work was funded by a grant from The John Templeton Foundation’s Philosophy and Science of Self-Control Project. Special thanks to Timothy Schroeder, editor Neil Levy, and two anonymous reviewers for constructive comments on earlier versions of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kentaro Fujita
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jessica J. Carnevale
    • 2
  • Yaacov Trope
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyPurchase College, SUNYPurchaseUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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