How Much Self-Control Do You Have?

Have you ever wondered if you lack self-control? New York Magazine's Science of Us blog just released a neat quiz you can take online that might help you figure out if you have some hidden control issues you've been struggling to deal with. Regardless as to whether you have low or high self-control, knowing where you fall on the spectrum might be just what you need to figure out what's been ailing you.

Having good self-control is largely a benefit; people with good self-control often have fewer regrets, better focus, and better time management skills. Some research even suggests that people with good self-control are actually overall happier than their peers. But having lots of self-control has its downsides, too — for some of us, for example, self-control can lead us right into perfectionism, which studies show correlated with imposter syndrome and can lead to burn-out. Basically, balance is key. While you want to moderate yourself and not too wild, you also don't want to create stringencies around your life that cause extra pressure and stress.

So, back to the quiz itself. Science of Us adapted their quiz from a survey psychologist use to determine traits of people in terms of their self-control. I broke the quiz up into sections below, highlighting some of the most interesting questions; I also posted my own results so you could see it all in action. Here's how it went.

The Questions:

So, from the start, we see the questions are pretty straight-forward. Many people associate resisting temptation with having good-self control, for example. There's also a question about "bad habits," which I find interesting — "bad habits" are largely a subjective territory; if you're a perfectionist, for example, some people may qualify your habits as "bad" while you may see them as part of your normal routine.

This section of questions leans towards self-control in regards to social situations. For instance, if someone abstains from a recreational activity or goes home from one early, they're often associated with having good self-control. The same goes for people who follow the social norms of what is inappropriate.

I find this section fascinating. There's a tension between questions seven and eight I think is intriguing: How do we see ourselves, versus how others perceive us? It's always something to think about, but can be especially interesting in terms of finding balance in ourselves.

It doesn't surprise me that a quiz about self-control would ask questions about long-term goals. I actually think a question about short term goals would be interesting here, to see if there's a tension between motivations to finish short-term tasks (say, for example, homework assignments) versus long-term tasks (for example, a final paper) when it comes to self-control.

And the final question! For me, acting without thinking is a rarity. I think this has to do with self-control, but I also think it's a trait common in many introverts, or people who are prone to taking a long time to make decisions.

The Results:

So, what were my results? I ranked 48 out of 65 points, which put me in the "High" tier for self-control. For me personally, I think that my mood is easily affected by stress and negative emotions, both internally and externally; if I were take this quiz on a day I felt a lot of pressure, say, because of a combination of school and work, my results may put me higher into the "High" category.

Interestingly, though, I played with the quiz a bit and found that if I changed my answers even slightly, I dropped down into the "Medium" tier. I suspect that being on the line is a symptom of however the quiz is calibrated; I couldn't find the methodology, but often it's interesting to check out how quizzes are coded, so you can figure out why which answer places you in a particular ranking.

That said, I think something important to keep in perspective whenever you do a personality test or other quiz is whether your mood while you're taking it is representative of how you normally are. Do some questions feel like outliers to you because of elements the quiz can't take into consideration, like personal taste or history? Quizzes like these serve as a great way to see yourself from another perspective, but aren't necessarily the final word on who you are as a person.

Images: Pexels; Marissa Higgins/Bustle (6)