Desire and Desire Regulation


A good deal of people’s waking time is, more or less directly, spent thinking about and dealing with desire. There is no question that desires are often benign, functional, and evolutionary adaptive for the individual. However, there are cases where desire stands in conflict with important (selfregulatory) goals or (moral) values. Prime examples include the exsmoker who, upon seeing other people smoke, reexperiences a strong craving for a cigarette despite her intention to never smoke again, or two colleagues at work who cannot help feeling sexually attracted to each other despite the fact that one of them has made public vows of faith on the not-so-long-ago wedding day. And sometimes, much more trivially, the time or opportunity to fulfill a certain desire is just not “right,” such as when someone feels a strong need to pee on a long bus ride and, alas, the toilet is broken. There are both individual and societal reasons for why the capacity for desire regulation is such a highly important aspect of everyday functioning. The primary questions that we seek to answer in this chapter are: What is desire? When does it become problematic? How does desire regulation work? When and why can it go wrong? And how can it be improved? To approach issues of desire regulation, we will draw both on the literature of selfcontrol and emotion regulation. The selfcontrol literature is central because desires are driving forces that sometimes need to be held in check through inhibition or overriding. Selfcontrol research has yielded a wealth of insights on how such inhibitory processes may work and when they may be disturbed. More recently, the field has begun to scrutinize anticipatory, preventive strategies through which people actively set the stage for later selfcontrol successes (Fujita, 2011; C H A P T E R 3

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@inproceedings{Hofmann2015DesireAD, title={Desire and Desire Regulation}, author={Wilhelm Hofmann and Hiroki P. Kotabe and Kathleen D. Vohs and Roy F . Baumeister}, year={2015} }