The three surprising and unexpected contributing factors to low self-control are the effects of lead, birth complications, and the exposure to toxic stress at an early age. The first surprising and contributing factor to low self-control is the effects of lead. Researchers have also been quite interested in the effects of lead; an organic metal heavily used in industry for centuries. Lead is, quite simply, everywhere around us, at least in small quantitiesit is in the air, water, and soil, but also makes its way into homes (Hay and Meldrum, 2016). Researchers can measure how much lead is in our body and how lead poisoning can affect our ability to maintain self-control. Importantly, lead poisoning especially hits the neurological systemmagnetic resonance imaging tests reveal various abnormalities in the frontal lobe of lead-exposed brains (Hay and Meldrum, 2016). Being exposed to lead poisoning can the way we think and process information. Even after controlling for various confounders, lead-exposed youth have lower IQs, impaired reaction times, verbal and speech deficiencies, hyperactivity, problems with behavioral inhibition, psychopathy in childhood, and even adult crime (Hay and Meldrum, 2016). This surprising and contributing factor is unexpected because it did not occur to me that lead can have a major impact on a persons development and their ability to maintain self-control.
The second surprising and contributing factor to low self-control is birth complications. Birth complications can affect a childs brain development. It can stop them from understanding the difference between right and wrong. When a baby receives less oxygen in their brain, it can cause permanent brain damage. It is possible that permanent brain damage can lead to low self-control. In connection, Beaver and Wright found that anoxia (oxygen deprivation), eclampsia (seizures), cesarean delivery, respiration problems, meconium (the presence of stool in the lungs), and distress were related to parent and teacher ratings of self-control in kindergarten and first grade (Hay and Meldrum, 2016). This surprising and contributing factor is unexpected because I did not think that there was link between birth complications and low self-control.
The third surprising and contributing factor to low self-control is being exposed to toxic stress at an early age. In a technical report prepared for the journal Pediatrics, Shonkoff and his colleagues emphasize that this process leads to a chronic wear and tear effect on multiple organ systems, including the brain (Hay and Meldrum, 2016). They explain how a childs brain development can have severe damage in their life. It can be damaged by long term abuse and neglect by their family. This type of damage can lead to them having self-control issues in their life. Many of these things affect PFC functioning in particularthe region of the brain so critical for inhibiting emotions, thoughts, and actions. The result is that children exposed to long-term or intense stress during critical periods of brain development will be at a neurological disadvantagethe architecture of their brains lowers the likelihood that they will be able to optimally self-regulate (Hay and Meldrum, 2016). This surprising and contributing factor is unexpected because the empirical evidence on a familiar causal factor is different from what I expected.