Mark Muraven (pictured above), a professor of psychology at the University at Albany is the recipient of a 3 year, $600,000 grant from the Department of Defense Army Research Institute to investigate the role of self-control in coping with stress.
This project will build upon his research examining why self-control fails and whether it is possible to improve self-control performance. In particular, prior research has suggested that self-control is akin to a muscle that both fatigues with use and gets stronger with practice. After exerting self-control, this self-control strength is depleted and hence subsequent attempts at self-control are more likely to fail. However, regular practice of small acts of self-control (for example, limiting cursing) appears to increase self-control strength, which can lead to better self-control in many domains.
In this project, Dr. Muraven and his research team hope to demonstrate self-control strength is related to coping outcomes. Moreover, by building strength, individuals should be better able to deal with stress, as measured physiologically in a laboratory and self-reported as they go about their daily lives. If successful, this research may lead to applied research on helping people deal with stresses, as well as lead to treatments to build self-control.
To date, Muraven has generated more than $2 million in research support from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and now the Department of Defense.