Street Dogs

UNTIL recently, the scientific literature on self-control focused almost exclusively on the benefits of having a lot of it, understandably so. People who are good at keeping themselves in line also tend to be more successful.

Newer studies, however, are finding a downside to having a high level of self-control. One of these was led by Duke University psychologist Christy Zhou Koval.

To quote from the abstract published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: "(In) studies 1 and 2, we examined the effects of actors’ self-control on observers’ performance expectations and found that observers had higher performance expectations for actors with high self-control. In study 3, we tested the effect of actors’ self-control on work assigned to actors and found that observers assigned greater workloads to actors with high self-control. In study 4, we examined how actors and observers differed in their assessments of the effort expended by high and low self-control actors and found that observers (but not actors) reported that high self-control actors expended less effort than low self-control actors. Finally, we found that people high in self-control reported greater burden from the reliance of co-workers (study 5) and romantic partners (study 6)", and this tendency led them to feel less satisfied with their relationships (study 6).

In short, we have higher expectations for the work ethic of peers with higher self-control. We dump more work on them. As a result of which, they become overly burdened. The good news, for the rest of us, is that when these types are paired with slackers, they tend to compensate by "taking on more of the project than they would if they were paired with someone who was a little more like them".