PSYCH 635 – Self Regulation of Learning – Research Proposal

Self Regulation of Learning

In simple terms, self-regulation refers to the ability to develop, implement and maintain a certain behavior to achieve certain planned goals. It is critical for reliable emotional well-being of an individual. Self-regulation may be also defined emotionally and emotionally. As such, behaviorally, self-regulation may be defined as the ability of people to act in the best self-interest, which is consistent with the values they hold dear. Emotionally, self-regulation may be defined as the ability of individuals to calm themselves down even when they are upset and lift themselves up when they are emotionally down. As such, self-regulation is the ability to control emotions. There has been significant progress in theory and research on human self-regulation in the past decade. However, the major focus of research on self-regulation relates to emotional regulation of people who have normal behavior or in behaviors that can be easily quantified using experimental methods. However, very little is known on components of self-regulation in complex dysfunctional behaviors such as personality disorders, offending behaviors, or other issues in forensic psychology. Offending behavior is usually associated with antisocial and borderline personality disorders. Research on self-regulation would help in the formulation of effective therapeutic interventions for offender groups. However, this would require two steps. The first step is the determination of the self-regulatory patterns of offender groups. The second step is the translation of self-regulation patterns into practical suggestions that would help in the modification of known behavior intervention strategies. However, it is vital to determine efficient methods of measuring self-regulation in forensic psychology.

To determine self-regulation it is vital to first focus on conscious self-regulation on non-psychopathic offenders, since all modern theories of self-regulation focus on theoretical problems, it is vital to focus on the theoretical source that would help in reconciling the findings of different studies on self-regulation. Personality Systems Interaction Theory would provide the framework for measuring self-regulation. However, due to the fact that the theory is very elaborate, it is difficult to test it whole. However, one can test certain predictions that may be derived from subcomponents of the theory. According to the personality systems interaction theory, there are two mechanisms that facilitate behavior and three that hinder behavior. Self-regulation and self-control are the facilitatory modes. On the other hand, volition inhibition, volition avoidance, and self-inhibition are the inhibitory modes according to the theory (Greenberg, Koole & Pyszczynski, 2013).

Self-regulation comprises of several unconscious physiological skills that are closely related to self-motivation, mood management, and decision control. Alienation, preoccupation, and rumination are the major deficits of self-regulation. According to the theory, people can consciously access self-regulation. Planning, impulse control, and taking an initiative are the mechanisms associated with self-regulation (O’Donohue & Levensky, 2004).

The inhibitory modes refer to difficulties that an individual may experience in maintaining a set of behavioral goals that the individual set previously. Inhibitory modes are made up of negative mental states that impede the realization of volitional intentions or goals. Inhibitory modes are related to how prone an individual is to being distracted from tasks at hand or lack the energy, initiative or concentration to complete the tasks.

Personality systems interaction theory asserts that there is a mediating role of positive and negative modes, which helps in modulating the dynamics between the different volition systems. The positive and negative affect regulate the dominance of volition systems, which facilitates certain behavioral responses. For instance, if an individual has surplus activation of positive affect leads to the inhibition of analytical thinking. In so doing, it leads to increase in automatic action (Greenberg, Koole & Pyszczynski, 2013).

As such, personality systems interaction theory would play a critical role in measuring self-regulation in forensic psychology. It would helps in testing various hypotheses in forensic psychology. Use of volitional components questionnaire would be critical in using personality systems interaction theory to test hypotheses in forensic psychology. Volitional components questionnaires help in mapping various components of self-regulation. Use of a four point Likert scale throughout the research would help in providing a framework for determining people’s experiences on self-regulation, self-control, self-inhibition, volitional inhibition, and volitional avoidance, which are the major mechanisms that facilitate or impede behavior of individuals. Therefore, use of the five component scale helps in determining both the facilitatory and inhibitory modes that would be used in testing the main hypothesis as it relates to forensic psychology. Volitional components questionnaires have undergone extensive reliability and validity checks that have shown that they are a suitable tool for testing the hypothesis. Volitional components questionnaires have also been validated with normal clinical and non-clinical samples. These samples include patients with obsessive compulsive disorders, alcoholics, and psychosomatic patients (Zimmerman & Schunk, 2013).

While testing the hypothesis it is vital to determine whether the sample showed more deficits in self-regulation and self-control than the control sample. Analysis of literature on the issue would help in providing an explanation of the behavior of the sample under investigation. In this specific research, it would be vital to determine whether the sample, violent offenders, had more deficits in self-regulation and self-control than non-violent offenders. Analysis of literature on the issue shows that they do.

It is also vital to determine whether the self-regulatory variables are related to aggression in the sample. If this is proved to be the case, then it would be vital to determine the variables would significantly related to aggression independent of other variables that have been proved to be directly related to aggression. These include personality disorders and emotional instability (Greenberg, Koole & Pyszczynski, 2013).

The next step would be to explore certain predictions that have been derived from the personality interactions theory. According to the theory, deficient self-regulation is associated with failure of an individual to down-regulate the negative affect if it has been aroused. In addition, according to the theory, low self-control is related to high positive effect. This would help in testing the hypothesis that self-regulation is positively related to good capability to down-regulate the high negative affect when it is aroused and both volitional inhibition and self-inhibition are negatively related to ability to down-regulate high negative affect. The results of the research would help in determining the balance in the behavior of offenders. The violent offenders may be people who can self-regulate effectively in most instances. However, their aggressive behavior may be caused by a sudden inexperience to self-regulate when they are exposed to certain emotionally threatening situations (Greenberg, Koole & Pyszczynski, 2013).

The next step would be to compare the self-regulation strategies of a smaller sample of different types of offenders. Volitional components questionnaire was used in the study. A scale with seven sub-scale, which would help in determining how people perceive their emotions and how they cope with their emotions. Comparison of a smaller number of different offenders would be statistically significant. It would help in determining the emotional experience of the group and the vulnerability of the group to certain behaviors. Comparison of the smaller group with the larger sample that was previously used in the research would help in determining the level of emotional self-regulation of offenders. This would be crucial in the development of therapeutic interventions for offender groups (Schunk, 2012).

Research using this method may have several methodological shortcomings. One of the major shortcomings of the research would be sample size used in the research. The research would use a small sample size. The sample was also heterogeneous. Use of self-reported data also posed several challenges to the research. This is due to the fact that the sample may provide false information. The reporting of the offenders is also dependent on the type of offense the offenders committed. Certain offenders may have certain interpersonal coping strategies related to their personality. In addition, the variables related to self-reported self-regulation do not have a direct effect on certain criminal behaviors. The relation between self-regulation and various criminal behaviors may be explained by various psychological concepts in different subfields of psychology. These include personality, cognitive, clinical, interpersonal, and social psychologies. Another limitation of the research is the fact that it is impossible to test personality systems interaction theory using self-report methodology. Therefore, to clarify the findings of the research it would be critical to repeat the research using experimental, non-reactive research designs. The samples used for the studies should have a more homogenous size, personality features, and types of offense that the offenders committed (Greenberg, Koole & Pyszczynski, 2013).

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