Verbal and other factors related to behavioural self-restraint in children
This study examined (1) how verbal self-instruction (VSI) affects behavioural self-restraint and (2) individual differences in impulsiveness and verbal regulation of behaviour (VRB) in children. The review of Luria's interpretation of VRB and other related works suggested that VRB can be examined at different levels of generality. The elementary level concerns the execution and inhibition of simple motor responses; the intermediate level involves control of more complicated behaviour by detailed self-instructions, while the highest level of abstraction relates to the role of speech in the socio-cultural development in Man. The first three experiments focussed on the elementary motor responses and demonstrated that self-instruction was detrimental to motor performance. There was no evidence to support the assumption that verbal responses were superior to motor responses. However, verbal and motor responses tended to co-ordinate with each other temporally and this feature was utilized in differential-reinforcement-of-low-rate (DRL) experiments, which showed that self-instruction aided behavioural restraint. However, the content of self-instruction was not important, but how it was said. Behavioural measures of self-restraint and responsiveness to verbal instructions were related to individual differences in cognitive style (measured by the Matching Familiar Figures Test) and personality (measured by self-rated questionnaires and a teacher'srating scale designed for the purpose). Whereas the use of self-instructions tended to override any individual differences related to behavioural self-restraint, the results supported the hypothesis that cognitive impulsivity was related to measures of anxiety, and behavioural impulsiveness to anxiety and psychoticism. There was no evidence that impulsiveness was related to extraversion. In view of the theoretical discussion on cognitive impulsivity by Kagan and Block, and on impulsiveness in personality by Eysenck and Gray, it seems that behavioural, cognitive and personality impulsiveness cannot be conceptualized as a unitary concept.