Self control in adolescents or the youth from low-income families achieved academic and social success at the cost of their health.
Northwestern University study found that it has been documented that children from low-income families typically complete less education, have worse health and are convicted of more crimes relative to their affluent peers.
To ameliorate these disparities, policy-makers are increasingly advocating for programs that provide low-income youth with character skills training, which along with self-control, includes traits like optimism and persistence.
However, overcoming such odds may take a physical toll as researchers claim that relentlessly pursuing goals can undermine health, particularly when structural forces like discrimination impede progress toward those goals.
Author Gregory E. Miller said that emerging data suggest that for low-income youth, self-control may act as a double-edged sword, facilitating academic success and psychosocial adjustment, while at the same time undermining physical health.
The researchers had found that those adolescents, who had high levels of self-control or the ability to focus on long-term goals over more immediate ones, fared better on a variety of psychological outcomes as young adults.
Miller added that the psychologically successful adolescents with high self-control have cells that are biologically old, relative to their chronological age. He further said that there seemed to be an underlying biological cost to the self-control and the success it enabled and this was most evident in the youth from the lowest-income families.
The study is published in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences