The Self-regulation Experiment

In 1973, Dr. Grossarth-Maticek's student-interviewers gave the self-regulation test to almost six thousand 40-66 year-old residents of Heidelberg, Germany. Fifteen years later, when they compared the interviewee’s health status to their earlier test scores, the results were amazing. Only 1.6% of the people who had scored below two on the test were still alive and well compared to 81% of the people with scores above five. (The maximum possible score was six.) Death rates from cancer, coronary heart disease and virtually all other causes varied directly with the self-regulation score. The figure below is a plot of the results:Self-regulation means that you pay attention to the results of your own behavior and make corrections to eliminate hopeless situations and maximize long-term pleasure and well-being. A thermostat regulates the temperature in a building by turning on the heater only when it is too cold. If the thermostat breaks, the house just keeps getting hotter. Likewise when self-regulation breaks down, habitual behaviors which have been producing poor results are simply repeated endlessly. The result of such behavioral ruts is as disastrous as when the thermostat breaks. In both cases, failure to regulate the response based on results causes things to get worse and worse.

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Self-regulation is a basic life skill that allows you to get your life together in a way that maximizes your feelings of pleasure and well-being. This is why the scores on the self-regulation and pleasure tests are almost perfectly correlated. Improving your self-regulation skills helps you to make improvements in your live which improve your score on the pleasure and well-being test. This improvement in your emotional life significantly improves your prospects for a long happy life. It's been proven by intervention experiments.

Interestingly, women tend to score higher on the self-regulation test than men. Their average score is four, while men average only three. This difference is just enough to account for the well-known longevity advantage of women. The reason may well be that women are taught to express their feelings more freely, to deal with problems and to share feelings with close friends.

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Copyright 1997 Thomas R. Blakeslee. All rights reserved. Revised: November 23, 2003.