Pleasure and the Multiplicity of Self

The Atlantic has a fascinating article on the psychology of pleasure, where the author suggests that we each consist of multiple selves, all in conflict, vying for control and separate desires.

Of particular interest is the act of self-binding—the taking of actions to prevent a later ‘self’ succumbing to temptation—and its development.

I recently studied young children’s understanding of self-binding, by showing them short movies of people engaged in self-binding and other behaviors and asking them to explain what was going on. The children, aged 4 to 7, easily grasped that someone might put a video game on a high shelf so that another person couldn’t get it. But self-binding confused them: they were mystified when people put away the game so that they themselves couldn’t get hold of it.

But even though young children don’t understand self-binding, they are capable of doing it.

To demonstrate this ability, the article discusses the ‘marshmallow experiment’ (discussed previously in the context of self-control), and goes on to suggest that even pigeons can self-bind.

via Mind Hacks