"Yes" is the answer to at least one of your questions.
For a fuller understanding, you will need some background and explanation on how this works. The "official" documentation is a reliable source. In a nutshell: part of the RPi firmware contains code that implements a closed-loop thermal management system. This "guarantees" that performance/clock speed is reduced based on temperature sensors in the hardware.
Another way to look at it is this: You only need to consider cooling (fans/heatsinks/etc) if you need greater performance.
As far as what settings you can make, this will vary depending on the model of your hardware. I know that sounds vague, and possibly disappointing, but the RPi firmware is closed-source. In other words, if the RPi Foundation doesn't see fit to add it, then by and large it simply does not get added.
You could of course write some code to implement your own thermal management system, but it will not have full control. For example:
measure temp with
vcgencmd measure_temp ≥ my_temp_limit then
turn on the fan (or increase fan speed)
I feel the key here is to understand the following:
- higher performance requires higher clock speeds
- higher clock speeds beget higher chip temperatures
- higher temperatures are ruinous to hardware (ref Arrhenius equation)
- reducing thermal resistance (heat sinks, fans, etc) reduces chip temperature
And amidst all of this technical minutiae, don't forget that the simplest way to get more performance from any RPi is to turn it on its side: "mounting the Pi vertically can also help with heat dissipation, as doing so can improve air flow".
Edit: This Q&A may also be useful.