Everyday Temptations: An Experience Sampling Study of Desire, Conflict, and Self-Control

Booth School of Business, University of Chicago, 5807 South Woodlawn Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Impact Factor: 5.08). 12/2011; 102(6):1318-35. DOI: 10.1037/a0026545
Source: PubMed


How often and how strongly do people experience desires, to what extent do their desires conflict with other goals, and how often and successfully do people exercise self-control to resist their desires? To investigate desire and attempts to control desire in everyday life, we conducted a large-scale experience sampling study based on a conceptual framework integrating desire strength, conflict, resistance (use of self-control), and behavior enactment. A sample of 205 adults wore beepers for a week. They furnished 7,827 reports of desire episodes and completed personality measures of behavioral inhibition system/behavior activation system (BIS/BAS) sensitivity, trait self-control, perfectionism, and narcissistic entitlement. Results suggest that desires are frequent, variable in intensity, and largely unproblematic. Those urges that do conflict with other goals tend to elicit resistance, with uneven success. Desire strength, conflict, resistance, and self-regulatory success were moderated in multiple ways by personality variables as well as by situational and interpersonal factors such as alcohol consumption, the mere presence of others, and the presence of others who already had enacted the desire in question. Whereas personality generally had a stronger impact on the dimensions of desire that emerged early in its course (desire strength and conflict), situational factors showed relatively more influence on components later in the process (resistance and behavior enactment). In total, these findings offer a novel and detailed perspective on the nature of everyday desires and associated self-regulatory successes and failures.

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Available from: Wilhelm Hofmann, Oct 07, 2015
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    • "Given that many situations in daily life require self-control (Hofmann, Baumeister, Forster, & Vohs, 2012), self-control resources might diminish gradually throughout the day, resulting in a greater likelihood of selfregulatory failures, including lying or cheating, in the afternoon or evening as compared to the morning hours. "
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    ABSTRACT: The Dark Triad of personality - narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy - is characterized by callous manipulation and social exploitation. Thus, dark personalities should be more prone to unethical behavior. Unethical behavior has been shown to vary during the course of the day with individuals displaying lower morality in the evening (Morning Morality Effect, MME). Hence, the present study investigated the association between the Dark Triad and unethical behavior as a function of time of day in an experimental design. Participants (N=195) completed the study either in the morning or in the evening. In one task, participants had the choice to cheat on a fictitious partner for monetary benefit at the partner's expense. In a second task, they had the opportunity to lie about their performance for personal gain. Machiavellianism scores positively predicted unethical behavior in the first task. In the second task, psychopathy scores positively predicted lying. Neither could the MME be replicated, nor did time of day moderate the influence of the Dark Triad on unethical behavior. Thus, the present study indicates that the dark traits are differentially related to aspects of unethical behavior, such that Machiavellians display a preference for complex deception, while psychopaths engage in impulsive cheating.
    Personality and Individual Differences 01/2016; 88:73-77. DOI:10.1016/j.paid.2015.09.002 · 1.86 Impact Factor
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    • "The attractiveness and abundance of unhealthy snack foods high in salt, sugar, and fat in our environment increases desire to indulge (Cohen & Farley, 2008; Hill & Peters, 1998; Hofmann, Vohs, & Baumeister, 2012). However, these desires are inconsistent with intentions to eat healthily (Cohen & Farley, 2008; Fishbach, Friedman, & Kruglanski, 2003). "
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    ABSTRACT: The current study sought to test the effect of a brief evaluative conditioning intervention on experienced temptation to indulge, and consumption of, unhealthy snack foods. We expected that a training task associating unhealthy food with negative affect would result in lower experienced temptation across the sample, but would lead to lower snack consumption only among individuals with low state inhibitory control. Undergraduate women (N=134) aged 17-25years were randomised to complete an evaluative conditioning procedure pairing unhealthy food with either positive or negative affect. Snack consumption was subsequently assessed using a taste-test procedure which offered four snack foods for ad libitum consumption. Participants also reported the strength of their experienced temptation to indulge in the foods presented. Additionally, they completed a Stop Signal Task as a measure of state inhibitory control. As predicted, participants in the food negative condition ate less than those in the food positive condition, but this effect was only observed among individuals with low inhibitory control. The same moderation pattern was observed for the effect of evaluative conditioning on temptation: only participants with low inhibitory control reported feeling less tempted by the snack foods in the food negative condition compared to the food positive condition. In addition, temptation mediated the effect of evaluative conditioning on intake for individuals with low inhibitory control. Findings suggest that evaluative conditioning of unhealthy food stimuli could be especially useful for reducing temptation and consumption of unhealthy snacks in situations where individuals experience low inhibitory control capacity.
    Physiology & Behavior 09/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.physbeh.2015.09.020 · 2.98 Impact Factor
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    • "empirically demonstrates that desire and conflict are indeed two independent paths through which anthropomor - phism has or does not have influence on self - control behavior . Second , by inspecting the precise mechanism of the conflict path , our findings provide additional support for the critical role of conflict experience in self - control ( Hofmann et al . 2012 ) . Lastly , this research contributes to research establishing a negative link between internal attri - butions and self - control by revealing how internal attribu - tions diminish the experience of inner conflict that serves as an internal alarm for the need of self - control ( Gray and McNaughton 2003 ) . One related question is whe"
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