In a general sense, the notion of self-regulation refers to the governing and directing of attention, resources, or actions towards one's adopted goals. This is consistent with the everyday conception of goal-directed action, in which a person is thought to evaluate available pursuits, select the most desirable option, and engage in behaviors designed to attain the goal. For example, a person may consider various potential life paths following graduation from high school and ultimately decide that she would like to earn a bachelors degree, which would then lead to behaviors such as attending (often boring) lectures and reading (often dry) textbooks. Such understanding of self-regulation makes two functions apparent. First, the person <em>assesses</em> the value of potential goals and the various means that serve each goal. Second, the individual <em>locomotes</em>, or moves away from, the current state towards a desired goal state. As such, assessment and locomotion as a body form part and parcel of all self-regulatory activity.
Handbook of Personality and Self-Regulation, edited by