P eople self-regulate. They resist temptations, cope with negative situations, and avoid undesired end states. Both self-regulation and self-control can describe people’s capacity to strive for desired end states. Notably, self-regulation can be defined in a variety of ways (see, e.g., Baumeister & Vohs, 2004): In a nutshell, traditional research on self-regulation attempted to explain situations in which people delay gratification, resist temptation, or more generally, suppress dominant responses to fulfill higher-order goals. When a social cognition researcher talks about self-regulation, however, typically included in the definition is basic research on goal pursuit (Fitzsimons & Bargh, 2004). On the one hand, this broadening of the field may come at the cost of specificity, but from a social cognition perspective this change in definition may be justified by two arguments. First, any goal-related behavior is based on a discrepancy between a person’s actual and a person’s desired self (Higgins, 1987), which causes an unpleasant state the person would like to change (see Lewin, 1926). If all goal-related behavior starts with self-discrepancy, a situation in which a person attempts to resist a temptation is just a special case of goal pursuit, and basic cognitive and motivational principles may be identified that underlie a multitude of situations, including self-control, striving for desired end states, and goal conflict, to name a few. Recent research

made enormous progress to understand the very nature of self-discrepancies (see Higgins, 1987).