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What’s So Great About Self-Control? Examining the Importance of Effortful Self-Control and Temptation in Predicting Real-Life Depletion and Goal Attainment

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Abstract

Self-control is typically viewed as a key ingredient responsible for effective self-regulation and personal goal attainment. This study used experience sampling, daily diary, and prospective data collection to investigate the immediate and semester-long consequences of effortful self-control and temptations on depletion and goal attainment. Results showed that goal attainment was influenced by experiences of temptations rather than by actively resisting or controlling those temptations. This study also found that simply experiencing temptations led people to feel depleted. Depletion in turn mediated the link between temptations and goal attainment, such that people who experienced increased temptations felt more depleted and thus less likely to achieve their goals. Critically, results of Bayesian analyses strongly indicate that effortful self-control was consistently unrelated to goal attainment throughout all analyses.

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... Our mixed-method design and large sample size also allowed us to describe the relationship broadly among a range of neural, behavioral, and self-report assessments of aspects of selfregulation. This had multiple elements, including exploring convergence among diverse self-regulation measures, testing for the predictive validity of each measure as a determinant of longterm goal attainment, and aiming to replicate previous relationships (e.g., that temptation and not self-control predicts goal success, ref. 80 ). However, the central focus of this paper relates to the relationship between ERPs and real-world self-regulation (i.e., experience sampling, long-term goal attainment). ...
... On average, 60% of participants' desires conflicted with at least one goal. As in previous research 80,82 , greater resistance was related to reduced enactment of a desire, at least in the moment. However, Table 1 Descriptive statistics and correlations for baseline personality and EEG measures. ...
... Surprisingly, enactment had a small, positive relationship with goal progress at 1 and 3 months, suggesting that those who gave in to their desires reported more goal progress at later intervals. As in previous research 80 , experiencing greater conflict with personally important goals (i.e., more temptations) was related to lower progress on those goals months later; stronger resistance, on the other hand, was unrelated to goal progress. Additional analyses were conducted examining conflicting desires only (looking both at desires conflicting with goals, and desires which are at least somewhat resisted (i.e., problematic)); results from these analyses do not change any of our conclusions (see Table S2 in the Supplementary Information). ...
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Self-regulation has been studied across levels of analysis; however, little attention has been paid to the extent to which self-report, neural, and behavioral indices predict goal pursuit in real-life. We use a mixed-method approach (N = 201) to triangulate evidence among established measures of different aspects of self-regulation to predict both the process of goal pursuit using experience sampling, as well as longer-term goal progress at 1, 3, and 6-month follow-ups. While self-reported trait self-control predicts goal attainment months later, we observe a null relationship between longitudinal goal attainment and ERPs associated with performance-monitoring and reactivity to positive/rewarding stimuli. Despite evidence that these ERPs are reliable and trait-like, and despite theorizing that suggests otherwise, our findings suggest that these ERPs are not meaningfully associated with everyday goal attainment. These findings challenge the ecological validity of brain measures thought to assess aspects of self-regulation. Self-regulation helps people to achieve their goals, and has been studied across modalities. Here, the authors present longitudinal evidence suggesting that common neural and behavioral measures of self-regulation derived from laboratory tasks do not predict everyday goal pursuit.
... Extending these findings to a longer time frame, Werner et al. (2016) found that pursuing more autonomous goals across a semester led to these goals being perceived as less effortful (compared to a person's other goals). And in an experience sampling study, autonomous motivation was related to experiencing fewer temptations , which in turn was related to lower perceptions of depletion (Milyavskaya and Inzlicht, 2017). Testing these predictions in a task that tracks effort and feelings of depletion in real time, we expect that people who enjoy an activity will feel less tempted by attractive alternatives and less fatigued even after exerting effort. ...
... After the task, students rated the strength of temptation for Tetris and the videos. Students also completed self-report measures assessing school interest and general academic self-efficacy, mirroring the math liking and math competency questions used in Studies 1 and 2. Additionally, although this study did not assess feelings of fatigue, participants' ratings of temptation strength allowed us to test whether interest was related to fewer temptations (experiencing temptations has previously been linked to greater feeling of fatigue; Milyavskaya and Inzlicht, 2017;Galla et al., 2018). Despite differences in methodology, our hypotheses remained the same: (1) school interest would predict a greater amount of time spent solving tedious, but "good for you" math problems in the presence of temptation; (2) school interest would predict less temptation for Tetris and entertaining video clips (despite exerting more effort from working longer on the math problems). ...
... Students who enjoyed school also experienced less temptation for the diversions, even though they engaged in more mental effort. Although this study did not directly examine fatigue, previous research has found that people report feeling more depleted when they experience greater temptation (Milyavskaya and Inzlicht, 2017). The next study, however, does examine fatigue directly. ...
Article
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People generally prefer easier over more difficult mental tasks. Using two different adaptations of a demand selection task, we show that interest can influence this effect, such that participants choose options with a higher cognitive workload. Interest was also associated with lower feelings of fatigue. In two studies, participants ( N = 63 and N = 158) repeatedly made a choice between completing a difficult or easy math problem. Results show that liking math predicts choosing more difficult (vs. easy) math problems (even after controlling for perceived math skill). Two additional studies used the Academic Diligence Task ( Galla et al., 2014 ), where high school students ( N = 447 and N = 884) could toggle between a math task and playing a video game/watching videos. In these studies, we again find that math interest relates to greater proportion of time spent on the math problems. Three of these four studies also examined perceived fatigue, finding that interest relates to lower fatigue. An internal meta-analysis of the four studies finds a small but robust effect of interest on both the willingness to exert greater effort and the experience of less fatigue (despite engaging in more effort).
... A common and well-studied way to deal with such tasks is to inhibit or suppress the negative emotions and to do the task anyway. This form of self-regulation is often referred to as situational self-control (e.g., Muraven and Baumeister, 2000;Baumeister and Alquist, 2009;Muraven, 2012;Milyavskaya and Inzlicht, 2017). Research has demonstrated its limits and weaknesses (e.g., Muraven and Baumeister, 2000;Friese et al., 2008;Baumeister and Alquist, 2009;Hagger et al., 2010;Milyavskaya and Inzlicht, 2017). ...
... This form of self-regulation is often referred to as situational self-control (e.g., Muraven and Baumeister, 2000;Baumeister and Alquist, 2009;Muraven, 2012;Milyavskaya and Inzlicht, 2017). Research has demonstrated its limits and weaknesses (e.g., Muraven and Baumeister, 2000;Friese et al., 2008;Baumeister and Alquist, 2009;Hagger et al., 2010;Milyavskaya and Inzlicht, 2017). For instance, suppressing negative emotions has been shown to lead to more negative emotions on a subsequent task (Hagger et al., 2010). ...
... 1 The assessment of the task as important on the one side and the negative emotion on the other presents individuals with competing behavioral tendencies namely approaching (due to the importance) and avoiding (due to the negative emotion) (Myrseth and Fishbach, 2009). The consequences are subjective feelings of conflict (e.g., Strack and Deutsch, 2004;Saunders et al., 2017) that evoke further negative affect (see Inzlicht et al., 2015) accompanied by feelings of low energy and subjective vitality Milyavskaya and Inzlicht, 2017). ...
Article
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Motto-goals describe a desired mind-set and provide a person with a guiding principle of how to approach a personal goal or obligation (e.g., with the inner strength of a bear I am forging ahead). We propose that motto-goals can be conceptionalized as individually created metaphors and that the figurative, metaphorical language and the characteristics of the formation process make them effective in changing the perception of unpleasant personal obligations as more inherently enjoyable and raise vitality levels. To test whether a newly devised minimalistic motto-goal intervention can make goal striving more attractive (stronger anticipation of activity related incentives) and energize goal-oriented action (increase vitality) in relation to an unpleasant obligation, two experimental studies were conducted. In Study 1 the motto-goal condition led to stronger anticipation of activity related incentives and vitality compared to a distraction task. The effect on vitality was partially mediated by a change in feelings of autonomy. Study 2 replicated the effects compared to a placebo intervention and further found motto-goals to be specifically effective in increasing the anticipation of activity related incentives as opposed to outcome related incentives. The results support that applying motto-goals built with a newly developed minimalist motto-goal intervention can influence the subjective experience of individuals faced with a previously unpleasant obligation.
... We assessed people's experiences during these three types of self-control conflicts in their daily lives, deploying the experience sampling method. This method is suitable for assessing people's experiences with high ecological validity and has recently become popular for the study of selfcontrol in daily life (e.g., Friese & Hofmann, 2016;Hennecke et al., 2019;Hofmann et al., 2012;Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017). ...
... Given that a priori power analyses for studies with many repeated measures are difficult to perform, we based our target sample size on previous research with similar research questions and study designs (Friese & Hofmann, 2016;Hennecke et al., 2019;Hofmann et al., 2012;Milyavskaya et al., 2015;Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017), which had sample sizes between N ¼ 101 and N ¼ 287. We aimed at recruiting a sample of 250 participants. ...
Article
For regulating emotion, it has been shown that people benefit from being flexible in their use of emotion regulation strategies. In the current study, we built on research focused on regulatory flexibility with respect to emotions to investigate flexibility in the use of self-regulatory strategies to resolve daily self-control conflicts. We investigated three components of flexibility: (1) metacognitive knowledge, (2) strategy repertoire, and (3) feedback monitoring. In a 10-day experience sampling study, 226 participants reported whether they had, within the past hour, experienced a self-control conflict of initiating an aversive activity, persisting in it, or inhibiting an unwanted impulse in response to a temptation. Results support the hypothesis that higher levels of all three components of flexibility are associated with higher levels of success in managing daily self-control conflicts, except for strategy repertoire and feedback monitoring in conflicts of persistence. Results also support the hypothesis that higher levels of trait self-control are associated with higher levels of metacognitive knowledge and feedback monitoring for conflicts of initiation, but not for conflicts of persistence and inhibition. We found no evidence of an association between trait self-control and strategy repertoire. These findings demonstrate the importance of flexible strategy use during daily self-control conflicts.
... Second, alternative tasks may appear more appealing when the current task one is working on is aversive. When the current task is aversive, potentially joyful tasks may become salient, which may make the current task even more depleting, because additional self-control is required to suppress urges to switch towards more rewarding tasks (Kurzban et al., 2013;Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017). ...
... A more fine-grained measurement of the ups and downs of depletion and self-control motivation might be helpful to understand if and how motivational and resource-depletion processes interact and unfold throughout the workday. Some experience-sampling studies in the area of self-control already adopt such approaches (Milyavskaya et al., 2015;Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017). However, conducting such studies in organizational settings may be difficult as it puts additional demands on participants possibly impacting the self-12 When analyzing Dataset B, we even found that depletion at the beginning of work predicted task performance in the afternoon which may indicate that individuals can deal with depletion at the beginning of work by mobilizing compensatory effort (Wright et al., 2019). ...
Article
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When conceptualizing work performance as requiring self-control, scholars often employ a resource-depletion perspective. However, this perspective neglects the role of self-control motivation and self-regulation strategies. In this diary study, we examine self-control motivation (viz. motivation to control impulses) and depletion at the beginning of work and at midday as predictors of afternoon task performance. Additionally, we investigate morning aversive tasks as an antecedent of increased depletion and decreased self-control motivation. Further, we examine the role of self-regulation strategies (organizing, meaning-related strategies, self-reward) for maintaining and improving performance when depleted or low in self-control motivation. Data from a 2-week diary study with 3 daily measurements (N = 135 employees; n = 991 days) was analyzed. Multilevel path modeling showed that self-control motivation at the beginning of work and depletion at midday predicted afternoon task performance. We found that self-reward in the afternoon counteracts the negative relationship between depletion and task performance. Further, we found an indirect effect from morning aversive tasks on task performance via depletion at noon buffered by afternoon self-reward. Organizing and meaning in the afternoon were positively related to afternoon task performance. Findings suggest that self-control motivation is important for task performance, in addition to low depletion. Moreover, results highlight that self-regulation strategies are beneficial for task performance.
... Delegating the work of regulating oneself to non-conscious processes thus creates an "effortless" experience. Since the anticipation of struggle or difficulty is what causes many people who face a self-control dilemma to feel too overwhelmed to attempt being self-controlled (Milyavskaya and Inzlicht, 2017), a less effortful experience can circumvent this consequence. ...
Article
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“I just couldn’t control myself” are the infamous last words of a person that did something that they knew they should not have done. Consistent self-control is difficult to achieve, but it is also instrumental in achieving ambitious goals. Traditionally, the key to self-control has been assumed to reside in the brain. Recently, an alternative has come to light through the emergence of situated theories of self-control , which emphasize the causal role of specific situated factors in producing successful self-control. Some clinical interventions for motivational or impulse control disorders also incorporate certain situated factors in therapeutic practices. Despite remaining a minority, situated views and practices based on these theories have planted the seeds of a paradigm shift in the self-control literature, moving away from the idea that self-control is an ability limited to the borders of the brain. The goal of this paper is to further motivate this paradigm shift by arguing that certain situated factors show strong promise as genuine causes of successful self-control, but this potential role is too often neglected by theorists and empirical researchers. I will present empirical evidence which suggests that three specific situated factors – clenched muscles, calming or anxiety-inducing environmental cues, and social trust – exhibit a specialized effect of increasing the likelihood of successful self-control. Adopting this situated view of the ability to regulate oneself works to reinforce and emphasize the emerging trend to design therapies based on situated cognition, makes self-control more accessible and less overwhelming for laypeople and those who struggle with impulse control disorders, and opens a new avenue of empirical investigation.
... When their resources are depleted, however, employees cannot mobilize enough resources into their work tasks. Thus, they are more likely to withdraw from their work (Chi & Liang, 2013;Cole et al., 2010;Cropanzano et al., 2003), be less able to achieve work goals (Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017), and take less personal initiative in their work (Zacher et al., 2019). ...
Article
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As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our societies went into a lockdown model and many organizations required or permitted their employees to work from home. As a result, employees need to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic while they work from home, providing an opportunity to examine how COVID-19 prevention experiences influence those who are working from home. Based on the interpersonal self-regulation perspective, we propose that employees who perceive having more disagreements with their partners over COVID-19 prevention measures are more likely to experience a reduction in their identification with the partner which is subsequently associated with their negative work outcomes through emotional exhaustion. Results from a two-wave survey study with a sample of 282 employees who worked from home during the COVID-19 pandemic supported our predictions: perceived self-partner disagreements over COVID-19 prevention measures related to a reduction in identification with the partner, which was subsequently associated with exhausted regulatory resources and undermined work outcomes. Furthermore, these negative effects were particularly salient for individuals who were not married. Theoretical and practical implications for family-to-work interference and working from home in times of crisis are discussed.
... As such, this developmental period is crucial to set the basis for emotion regulation [1] as necessary to manage emotions and social relationships [4], to avoid excessive risk-taking behaviors [5] as well as dealing with stress [6], all critical aspects considering the low self-control reported in adolescence [7][8][9]. Notably, self-control regards impulse-control referred to the ability to inhibit one's reaction in favor of greater priorities [10,11] as well as the capacity to initiate favorable and goal-directed behaviors [12][13][14]. Adolescents' low self-control has been associated with the emergence of emotional problems such as internalizing symptoms referred to anxiety and depression symptoms [8,15] and with the emerging of risk and addictive behaviors [8]. ...
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Background Research has shown an increased risk for Non-suicidal self-injurious (NSSI) behavior and Smartphone Addiction and particularly in adolescence, a developmental period defined by multi-level changes and still poor self-control capacities associating with risk-taking behaviors. Objective The current study was aimed to assess the pattern of mutual relations characterizing NSSI considering self-control, internalizing and externalizing problems, and investigating how Smartphone Addiction fits within the network since NSSI and Smartphone Addiction are here conceptualized as an attempt at emotion regulation. Age and gender differences were also assessed. Method Participants were Italian adolescents presenting NSSI behavior (N = 155; Mage = 14.68; SD = 1.647; Range = 11–18; 43.2%-females). A Network Analysis was performed to assess the organizational structure of NSSI; age and gender differences were assessed through multivariate rank tests further applying multiplicity control. Results The emerged Network showed the centrality of low self-control and internalizing problems for NSSI. NSSI and Smartphone Addiction were associated through low self-control, and so were Smartphone Addiction and externalizing problems. Significant age differences were observed showing a decrease in NSSI as age increases (stat = −2.86; adj.p = .29). No gender differences have emerged. Conclusions The current findings provide support for the consideration of Smartphone addiction and addiction tendensies within the NSSI context in adolescence. Moreover, these findings point to the relevance of prevention practices during this peculiar developmental period, particularly sustaining self-control capacities and the use of more adaptive emotion regulation strategies, therby limiting the accrue of at risk behaviors.
... Research finds that some of this prioritization happens through goal shielding, which automatically orients a person toward the focal goal of interest while simultaneously blocking out or inhibiting all other competing goals (Goschke & Dreisbach, 2008;Shah, 2005). In such cases, people may experience fewer competing temptations, which is related to more successful goal pursuit (Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017). Similarly, some research has found that the activation of competing goals or temptations may even make a focal goal stronger (Fishbach et al., 2003), which further serves to protect the focal goal from distractions. ...
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There are currently a multitude of theories, models, and constructs that seek to explain the process of goal pursuit and how to maximize goal attainment. In this paper, we review existing research on the goal pursuit process and propose a model that integrates evidence from a variety of theories and perspectives. The proposed integrative model of goal pursuit explains the process of goal pursuit from inception to attainment (or abandonment) and addresses the influence of the broader social context and the dynamics that may arise when pursuing multiple goals. We also highlight how our integrative model of goal pursuit builds on specific prior theories and models of goal pursuit and self-regulation, and outline implications for future research and practice
... Many 12-Step self-help groups use principles of community support and situation management to address problems with substance abuse (Donovan et al., 2013). More generally, strategies involving a selection or alteration of the agent's situation seem to be more effective and less costly than those relying on attention, working memory and inhibitory capacities ); goal-attainment success is correlated not with frequently resisting temptations but with feeling fewer temptations in the first place (Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017); and people with high trait self-control seem to avoid temptations rather than resist them (Hofmann et al., 2012). It should be acknowledged that purely intra-psychic strategies can sometimes be as effective at facilitating goal attainment as externally-supported strategies (Milyavskaya, Saunders, & Inzlicht, In Press); that some specific situational strategies can be less effective than some specific intra-psychic strategies (Hennecke & Bürgler, 2020); and that much research remains to be done to more clearly specify strategy effectiveness. ...
Article
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Does self-control require willpower? The question cuts to the heart of a debate about whether self-control is identical with some psychological process internal to the agents or not. Noticeably absent from these debates is systematic evidence about the folk-psychological category of self-control. Here, we present the results of two behavioral studies (N = 296) that indicate the structure of everyday thinking about self-control. In Study 1, participants rated the degree to which different strategies to respond to motivational conflict exemplify self-control. Participants distinguished between intra-psychic and externally-scaffolded strategies and judged that the former exemplified self-control more than the latter. In Study 2, participants provided various solutions to manage motivational conflict and rated their proposals on effectiveness. Participants produced substantially more intra-psychic strategies, rated them as more effective, and advised them at a higher rate than externally-scaffolded strategies. Taken together, these results suggest that while people recognize a plurality of strategies as genuine instances of self-control, purely internal exercises of self-control are considered more prototypical than their externally-scaffolded counterparts. This implies a hierarchical structure for the folk psychological category of self-control. The concept encompasses a variety of regulatory strategies and organizes these strategies along a hierarchical continuum, with purely intra-psychic strategies at the center and scaffolded strategies in the periphery.
... Thus, we hypothesize that self-consciousness could be moderator of affect/discrepancy relationship. Another potentially intervening variable -self-control -is viewed as leading factor for effective self-reguation (Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017), that undeniably indicates that self-control has an agency to influence self-discrepancies and amplitude of digestion/agitation related emotions. ...
Article
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The present study explores the connection between the actual/ideal (A/I) and actual/ought (A/O) self-discrepancies and negative emotional states such as stress, anxiety and depression. Moreover, it seeks to understand the effects of potentially intervening variables, self-control //and self-consciousness, on the affect-discrepancy relationship. 638 participants (60% female, aged 18-55) participated in the study. They filled out questionnaires measuring actual/ ideal self-discrepancy, actual/ought self-discrepancy, self-control, private/public self-consciousness and psychological distress (depression, anxiety and stress; DAS). The results revealed that both, A/O and A/I self-discrepancies, are positively associated with DAS but do not have a predictive value for them. However, depression, anxiety and stress are significantly predicted by low self-control and high personal self-consciousness. Also, the study confirms that self-control and self-consciousness moderate affect-discrepancy relationship: self-control is a significant moderator of the relationships between (1) A/I and A/O self-discrepancy and depression and (2) A/I and A/O self-discrepancy and stress. Also, public self-consciousness moderates the relationship between A/O self-discrepancy and stress. In this respect those who have high self-control and high self-consciousness are less likely to experience negative emotional reactions related to the discrepant self-constructs.
... For example, Milyavskaya and Inzlicht (2017) monitored 159 students at a Canadian university for a week. Students were contacted at random by a mobile phone during the week, asking them to rate the desires, temptations, and self-control they were experiencing at that particular time. ...
Chapter
This chapter is organised into the following sections: the way in which the notion of social class has changed over time; current models that explain the achievement gap between students from high- and middle-classes and students from lower-classes; recent work by psychologists in explaining social class differences; and an examination of research demonstrating the importance of social class on five non-cognitive constructs.
... After people are exposed to temptations or use self-control, their apparent abilities to use subsequent self-control weakens, and tempting alternatives appear increasingly desirable (Baumeister et al., 2007;Baumeister & Heatherton, 1996;Blain et al., 2016;Inzlicht et al., 2014). Experience sampling studies on everyday desires suggest that people's abilities to resist a goal-conflicting desire (e.g., unhealthy food) change across the course of a day depending on either how much self-control they previously exerted or how many temptations they encountered (Hofmann et al., 2012;Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017;Wilkowski et al., 2018). Temporary decreases in selfcontrol -whether due to experimental fatigue inductions (Sellahewa & Mullan, 2015) or due to fatigue naturally accumulating across the day (Boland et al., 2013) -are associated with making less healthy food choices. ...
Article
People may be more or less vulnerable to changes in self-control across the day, depending on whether they believe willpower is more or less limited. Limited willpower beliefs might be associated with steeper decreases in self-control across the day, which may result in less goal-consistent behaviour by the evening. Community members with health goals (Sample 1; N = 160; 1814 observations) and students (Sample 2; N = 162; 10,581 observations) completed five surveys per day for one to three weeks, reporting on their recent physical activity, snacking, subjective state, and health intentions. In both samples, more limited willpower beliefs were associated with less low- and moderate-intensity physical activity, particularly later in the day. Limited willpower beliefs were also associated with more snacking in the evenings (Sample 1) or overall (Sample 2). These behavioural patterns were mediated by differential changes in self-efficacy and intentions across the course of the day (in Sample 1), and the above patterns of low- and moderate-physical intensity held after controlling for related individual differences, including trait self-control and chronotype (in Sample 2). Overall, more limited willpower theories were associated with decreasing goal-consistent behaviour as the day progressed, alongside decreasing self-efficacy and weakening health-goal intentions.
... The sample size was based on studies with similar designs and research questions (Friese & Hofmann, 2016;Milyavskaya et al., 2015;Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017), which varied between N = 101 and N = 205. The aim was to recruit 200 participants with a response rate of 70%, resulting in a first wave of 233 recruited undergraduate students from the University of REDACTED. ...
Article
Research on self-control has increasingly acknowledged the importance of self-regulatory strategies, with strategies in earlier stages of the developing tempting impulse thought to be more effective than strategies in later stages. However, recent research on emotion regulation has moved away from assuming that some strategies are per se and across situations more adaptive than others. Instead, strategy use that is variable to fit situational demands is considered more adaptive. In the present research, we transfer this dynamic process perspective to self-regulatory strategies in the context of persistence conflicts. We investigated eight indicators of strategy use (i.e., strategy intensity, instability, inertia, predictability, differentiation, diversity, and within- and between-strategy variability) in an experience sampling study ( N = 264 participants with 1,923 observations). We found that variability between strategies was significantly associated with self-regulatory success above and beyond mean levels of self-regulatory strategy use. Moreover, the association between trait self-control on one hand and everyday self-regulatory success and affective well-being on the other hand was partially mediated by between-strategy variability. Our results do not only show the benefits of variable strategy use for individual’s self-regulatory success but also the benefits of more strongly connecting the fields of emotion regulation and self-control research.
... Some studies find that resistance is adequate Hofmann, Schmeichel, & Baddeley, 2012b), whereas others find that it was successful in fewer than half the occasions it was attempted (Milyavskaya, Saunders, & Inzlicht, in press). What is worse, when looking beyond success or failure in one particular situation, at least one study suggests there is little connection between regularly engaging willpower and making progress on one's goals (Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017). Despite promises that willpower is one of the keys to goal attainment, in the long-run, people who use it may not be better at meeting their goals than people who don't. ...
Article
Ainslie does not formally incorporate risk and uncertainty in his framework for modelling impulses and willpower. To provide a complete account of the motivational bases of choice behaviour, Ainslie should extend his framework to incorporate risk attitudes and subjective beliefs.
... For example,Nurmi et al. (2009) found that appraisals of personal goals on various dimensions (such as importance, commitment, meaning) vary predominantly withinperson and only 5-24% of the variation in these appraisals can be attributed to individuals. A study on goal progress across time has found that approximately 80 -95% of the variance in goal attainment was at the within-person level(Holding et al., 2017;Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017;Milyavskaya et al., 2015; Werner & Milyavskaya, 2017; Werner et al., 2016). Our study adds to this growing body of literature by demonstrating a similar pattern for goal expectancy and goalrelated emotions. ...
Preprint
Even though goal pursuit is often conceptualized as a linear phenomenon, it consists of feedback loops and reciprocal relationships between its crucial components. To investigate this aspect, we tested relationships between goal properties (goal importance and expectancy of success) as well as goal-related emotions and goal progress over time. Across three waves, 389 participants, and 3,150 unique goals, we found that goal progress was positively predicted by goal expectancy and, less consistently, by the importance attached to the goal. Furthermore, it was also positively predicted by goal-related satisfaction and, to a lesser extent, stress. Moreover, goal progress positively predicted future progress on the same goal via increased importance, increased expectancy, and increased satisfaction and negatively via decreased stress. These results provide insight into the mechanisms of goal-pursuit viewed as a cyclic process. Moreover, given that we have found much greater variability at the goal (compared to the person) level of analysis, the results suggest a goal- rather than person-centered approach to studying self-regulation.
... Previous research has documented the maladaptive effects of depletion on performance-related employee outcomes, such as task performance and the engagement in prosocial behavior at work (Lanaj et al., 2014;Trougakos et al., 2015). In addition, a study among university students showed that depletion can reduce educational goal attainment (Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017). Taken together, we thus expect that knowledge overload is negatively associated with daily goal attainment due to resource depletion. ...
Article
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To get their work done and achieve their daily work-related goals, employees seek knowledge from their coworkers. While the benefits of knowledge seeking have been established in the literature, we have yet to understand the potential downsides of daily knowledge seeking. We adopt a cognitive perspective to carve out the negative effect of daily knowledge seeking, while controlling for its established positive effect via perceived learning. Based on cognitive load theory, we argue that daily knowledge seeking produces intrinsic cognitive load that can hinder daily goal attainment through the experience of knowledge overload and subsequent resource depletion. However, the relational context in which knowledge seekers interact with knowledge sources represents an important contextual boundary condition. Coworker contact quality can mitigate the effect of knowledge seeking on knowledge overload because high coworker contact quality reduces extraneous (i.e., ineffective) and increases germane (i.e., productive) cognitive load that knowledge seekers experience when navigating the social interaction with knowledge sources. Under this condition, cognitive capacity is freed up and knowledge overload is less likely to occur. Based on an experience sampling study in which we collected data across 10 working days from 189 German employees, we found support for our hypotheses. An employee’s knowledge seeking had a negative indirect effect on goal attainment via knowledge overload and subsequent resource depletion, however, the downsides of daily knowledge seeking became less pronounced when coworker contact quality increased. We discuss the implications of our findings for research on knowledge seeking and resource exchange behaviors.
... According to the process model, goal motivation refers to goals pursued for "want-to" reasons and controlled goals pursued for "have-to" reasons (Deci & Ryan, 2000, p. 200). When applied to the recovery process, the implication of this model is that athletes could pursue recovery activities because they genuinely "want to" or because they feel they "have to" (Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017). If recovery is seen as a "want-to" goal, recovery is more likely to be attained because pursuing recovery is perceived as relatively effortless (Werner & Milyavskaya, 2019) and would therefore suffer less from fatigue. ...
Article
Mental detachment, which includes both cognitive and emotional detachment, refers to an athlete’s sense of being away from the cognitive and emotional demands of sport and is considered an important recovery experience for athletes. However, mental detachment appears to be impaired by high levels of physical fatigue following training or competition, suggesting that self-regulating post-performance cognitions and emotions may depend on available energetic resources. The purpose of this daily diary study was therefore to investigate whether daily sport-related rumination and worry can explain the relation between daily post-training physical fatigue and vigor on the one hand, and subsequent cognitive and emotional detachment on the other hand. Thirty-nine Dutch elite athletes completed a daily survey after training (T1) and at bedtime (T2) across 3–9 days. Multilevel structural equation modeling showed that daily physical fatigue was positively associated with sport-related rumination and worry during recovery, whereas daily vigor was negatively associated with sport-related worry during recovery. In turn, worry, but not rumination, was negatively associated with both cognitive detachment and emotional detachment. Results also revealed a significant indirect effect of worry between physical fatigue and cognitive detachment. These findings are in line with the view that recovery is a self-regulation process that may be dependent on available energetic resources. Moreover, this study underscores the practical importance of regulating postperformance physical fatigue, vigor, and sport-related worry to optimize the recovery process.
... Many 12-Step self-help groups use principles of community support and situation management to address problems with substance abuse (Donovan et al., 2013). More generally, strategies involving a selection or alteration of the agent's situation seem to be more effective and less costly than those relying on attention, working memory and inhibitory capacities ); goal-attainment success is correlated not with frequently resisting temptations but with feeling fewer temptations in the first place (Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017); and people with high trait self-control seem to avoid temptations rather than resist them (Hofmann et al., 2012). It should be acknowledged that purely intra-psychic strategies can sometimes be as effective at facilitating goal attainment as externally-supported strategies (Milyavskaya, Saunders, & Inzlicht, In Press); that some specific situational strategies can be less effective than some specific intra-psychic strategies (Hennecke & Bürgler, 2020); and that much research remains to be done to more clearly specify strategy effectiveness. ...
Preprint
Does self-control require willpower? The question cuts to the heart of a debate about whether self-control is identical with some psychological process internal to the agents or not. Noticeably absent from these debates is systematic evidence about the folk-psychological category of self-control. Here, we present the results of two behavioral studies (N = 296) that indicate the structure of everyday thinking about self-control. In Study 1, participants rated the degree to which different strategies to respond to motivational conflict exemplify self-control. Participants distinguished between intra-psychic and externally-scaffolded strategies and judged that the former exemplified self-control more than the latter. In Study 2, participants provided various solutions to manage motivational conflict and rated their proposals on effectiveness. Participants produced substantially more intra-psychic strategies, rated them as more effective, and advised them at a higher rate than externally-scaffolded strategies. Taken together, these results suggest that while people recognize a plurality of strategies as genuine instances of self-control, purely internal exercises of self-control are considered more prototypical than their externally-scaffolded counterparts. This implies a hierarchical structure for the folk psychological category of self-control. The concept encompasses a variety of regulatory strategies and organizes these strategies along a hierarchical continuum, with purely intra-psychic strategies at the center and scaffolded strategies in the periphery.
... Some studies find that resistance is adequate Hofmann, Schmeichel, et al., 2012), while others find that it was successful in fewer than half the occasions it was attempted (Milyavskaya et al., in press). What is worse, when looking beyond success or failure in one particular situation, at least one study suggests there is little connection between regularly engaging willpower and making progress on one's goals (Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017). Despite promises that willpower is one of the keys to goal attainment, in the long-run, people who use it may not be better at meeting their goals than people who don't. ...
Article
Any analysis of self-regulation that focuses solely on willpower in conflict-laden situations is insufficient. Research makes clear that the best way to reach one's goal is not to resist temptations but to avoid temptations before they arrive; it further suggests that willpower is fragile and not to be relied on; and that the best self-regulators engage in willpower remarkably seldom.
... Thus, the skill model suggests the prevalence of diachronic self-control strategies in skilled agents. This is in fact supported by evidence suggesting that long-term goal attainment is correlated, not with more successfully resisting temptation, but with feeling tempted less frequently (Hofmann et al. 2012;Milyavskaya and Inzlicht 2017). Additionally, trait self-control measures are robustly correlated with the tendency to engage in planning (Sjåstad and Baumeister 2018). ...
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Researchers often claim that self-control is a skill, an ability that threads cognitive and motivational processes together to achieve commitment-concordant action in the face of contrary motivations. It is also often stated that self-control exertions are intentional actions. However, no account has yet been proposed of the skillful agency that makes self-control exertion possible, and thus our understanding of self-control remains incomplete. Here I propose the skill model of self-control. This model accounts for skillful agency by tackling the guidance problem: how can agents transform their abstract and coarse-grained intentions into the highly context-sensitive, fine-grained control processes required to select, revise and correct strategies during self-control exertion? The skill model borrows conceptual tools from ‘hierarchical models’ recently developed in the context of motor skills, and asserts that self-control crucially involves the ability to manage the implementation and monitoring of regulatory strategies as the self-control exercise unfolds. Skilled agents are able do this by means of flexible practical reasoning: a fast, context-sensitive type of deliberation that incorporates non-propositional representations (including feedback signals about strategy implementation, such as the feeling of mental effort) into the formation of the practical intentions that structure self-control exertion. The literatures on implementation intentions and motivation framing offer corroborating evidence for the theory. The skill model has a surprising result: while cognitive control may be necessary for self-control exertions, expert agents will tend to rely much less on cognitive control than less skilled agents.
... Some studies find that resistance is adequate Hofmann, Schmeichel, et al., 2012), while others find that it was successful in fewer than half the occasions it was attempted (Milyavskaya et al., in press). What is worse, when looking beyond success or failure in one particular situation, at least one study suggests there is little connection between regularly engaging willpower and making progress on one's goals (Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017). Despite promises that willpower is one of the keys to goal attainment, in the long-run, people who use it may not be better at meeting their goals than people who don't. ...
Preprint
Any analysis of self-regulation that focuses solely on willpower in conflict-laden situations is insufficient. Research makes clear that the best way to reach one’s goal is not to resist temptations but to avoid temptations before they arrive; it further suggests that willpower is fragile and not to be relied on; and that the best self-regulators engage in willpower remarkably seldom.
... Comprehensive, rigorous, and largescale assessments of people's cognitive inhibition abilities, for example, do not predict real-world self-control outcomes (Eisenberg et al., 2019). Similarly, ecological momentary assessments indicate that the experience of conflict-a necessary precondition to and marker of inhibition-does not predict successful in vivo self-control (Ent et al., 2015;Hofmann et al., 2012;Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017). Process-tracing methods-such as mouse-tracking-that assess decision dynamics in real time also question the central role of inhibition (Stillman et al., 2017). ...
Article
According to common sense, successful self-control requires “willpower.” Psychology often models willpower as the effortful inhibition of temptation impulses—a process theorized to require sufficient motivation and resources. This article challenges the centrality of willpower in self-control. Instead, successful self-control relies on a variety of strategies beyond effortful inhibition: diminishing the influence of immediately available rewards and bolstering motivation toward more abstract, distant rewards. Furthermore, self-control is better conceived as a “toolbox” of strategies; success entails finding the tools that work best for a given individual at a given time. In other words, improving self-control is not about becoming stronger, but rather about becoming smarter. This approach has policy implications and suggests priorities for research.
... Goal progress was assessed with three items (α = 0.80) adopted from Milyavskaya and Inzlicht (2017); e.g., "I feel like I'm on track with my goal plan"; 1 = strongly disagree; 7 = strongly agree). ...
Article
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Prior research has shown that routines and beneficial habits largely explain high self-control people's success at goal pursuit. However, COVID-19 self-quarantine measures and country-level lockdowns have largely challenged people's ability to stick to their daily routines and habits. How successful at goal pursuit are people with high self-control when the world around them is not as it used to be? We examined if self-control passes the 'quar-antine test'. In an online study (N = 271), we measured trait self-control, goal progress, continued engagement in pre-pandemic goal-directed behaviors, development of new goal-directed behaviors and turning these new behaviors into habits. Results showed that during lockdown, people with higher (vs. lower) trait self-control were not only more likely to continue engaging in pre-pandemic goal-directed behaviors, but also found it easier to develop new goal-directed behaviors and were more likely to turn these behaviors into habits. High self-control people's ability to continue performing pre-pandemic goal-directed behaviors and to turn new behaviors into habits explained their success at goal attainment despite the major disruptions caused by the pandemic.
... According to their process model, goal motivation refers to goals pursued for "want-to" reasons and controlled goals pursued for "have-to" reasons (Deci & Ryan, 2000, p. 200). Thus, athletes can pursue recovery activities because they genuinely want-to or feel they have-to (Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017). If recovery is seen as a want-to goal, it is more likely to be attained because pursuing recovery is then perceived as relatively effortless (Werner & Milyavskaya, 2019), and would therefore suffer less from fatigue. ...
Article
Detachment from sport refers to refraining from sport-related activities (physical detachment) as well as disengaging from sport-related thoughts and emotions during time in recovery (cognitive and emotional detachment). Detachment is associated with improved physical and mental recovery from sport demands. However, research conducted among nonathletes shows that high demands are actually linked with lower detachment. Our understanding of whether such paradoxical effects also exist in elite sport is currently limited. Therefore, the aim of this daily diary study was to investigate within-person associations between daily physical, cognitive, and emotional sport demands and daily physical, cognitive, and emotional detachment. In addition, we examined whether physical fatigue, cognitive liveliness, and positive affect mediate the association between daily sport demands and daily detachment. Eighty-five elite athletes (56 males, 29 females) active at the national or international level completed a daily survey at 2 time points over a maximum of 2 weeks. Mostly in line with our hypotheses, findings revealed that high daily physical and emotional sport demands were associated with increased physical fatigue after training and competition. In turn, high physical fatigue was associated with lower physical and cognitive detachment after training/competition. More importantly, physical fatigue mediated the association between physical and emotional sport demands and physical and cognitive detachment. These findings point toward an “underrecovery trap,” in which high levels of physical fatigue can interfere with athletes’ physical and mental recovery. Using postperformance strategies to alleviate physical fatigue will likely benefit physical as well as mental recovery processes. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)
... Self-control has historically been defined as an ability to suppress and override human impulses (Baumeister et al., 2007;Tangney et al., 2004). Although more recent conceptualizations recognize that active inhibition of desires is not the only way individuals exert self-control (Fujita, 2011;Hofmann & Kotabe, 2012;Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017), self-control is still commonly viewed as overcoming the very desires that make us human ). ...
Article
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Desire is part of human nature, and being vulnerable to desire is part of what differentiates humans from machines. However, individuals with high self-control—who demonstrate impressive resistance to their desires—may appear to lack such human vulnerability. We propose that people perceived as high in self-control tend to be dehumanized as more robotic, relating to potentially negative social consequences. Across six studies ( N = 2,007), people perceived those higher in self-control as more robotic. In addition, we found some evidence that this robotic-dehumanization was related to less interest in spending time with the high self-control person. This outcome was reliably linked to lower warmth perceptions that correlated with greater robotic-dehumanization. Together, our results offer new insights into the social dynamics of exhibiting high self-control.
... We replicated previous findings showing that the largest amount of variance in self-control can be attributed to within-person differences, with about 15% being explained by betweenperson differences (Tsukayama et al., 2012). This estimate connects well to reported ICCs from prior research indicating that only between 10% (Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017) and about 25% ...
Article
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Self-control has predominantly been characterized as a domain-general individual difference, assuming that highly self-controlled individuals are generally, that is, irrespective of domain, better at resisting their desires. However, qualitative differences in the domains in which these desires emerge and how individuals interact with these domains have rarely been examined. We re-analyzed three experience sampling datasets ( N participants = 431, N observations = 15,962) and found that person × domain interactions predicted significant additional variance in momentary self-control above and beyond person differences, ranging from additional 6.2% of variance in desire strength to 17.0% of variance in conflict strength. Moreover, person × domain interactions in resistance strength predicted significantly more variance in resistance success than person or domain differences. Nevertheless, the number of individual resistance profiles was too diverse to be meaningfully reduced to a core set of latent resistance profiles. Thus, our results demonstrate the importance of considering person × domain interactions in future investigations of self-control and show that there is great diversity in how and how successfully different people interact with their self-control conflicts in different domains.
... In sum, the trait of self-control promotes a broad range of positive consequences in our lives. Thus, it is not surprising that self-control is encouraged by religions, societies, families, schools, media, scientists, politicians, and businesses (Baumeister & Exline, 1999;Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017). ...
Article
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The trait of self-control is receiving growing attention as it leads to plenty of positive outcomes. Besides, there are so many scales based on different theoretical approaches in the literature. In this study, we aimed to adapt two important self-control scales, namely the Dispositional Self-Control Scale (DSC; Ein-Gar & Sagiv, 2014), and Desire for Self-Control Scale (DSCS; Uzie & Baumeister, 2017) into Turkish. In this context, we evaluated factorial validity, reliability coefficients (Cronbach α and McDonald's ω), discriminant, and convergent validity of these scales among college students sample. We also tested gender differences between men and women on self-control scores for two scales. Overall findings demonstrated that DSC, and DSCS had satisfactory psychometric properties for utilization such as acceptable fit indices, a high level of reliability coefficients, and good discriminant and convergent validity. We also discussed the implications of findings and future research.
... The main aim of research on self-regulation is to better understand positive outcomes, such as successful goal pursuit or high achievement. Indeed, although we expect that setting up our environment to reduce obstacles may be a reason for why want-to and have-to motivation (and trait self-control) are linked to better goal attainment, we only examined this directly in Study 4. And although other research has shown that fewer obstacles relate to greater goal attainment (Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017), and that modifying one's environment is an effective self-regulatory strategy (Duckworth, White, et al., 2016), we still need to better understand how this works when people are trying to navigate multiple, sometimes incompatible, goals. In our studies, we assumed that the key goal in each study (academic attainment in Studies 2 and 4, healthy eating in other studies) is the predominant goal that participants are pursuing. ...
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Some people report encountering fewer obstacles during goal pursuit than others, but why is this the case? Seven pre-registered studies examine the role of goal motivation (want-to and have-to) and trait self-control in how individuals set up and perceive obstacles to goal pursuit in their environment. Findings show that want-to motivation and trait self-control were associated with reduced experiences of obstacles; have-to motivation was associated with a preference for greater proximity to obstacles. Have-to motivation was also related to stronger perceptions of obstacles as problematic, and trait self-control was related to the perception of obstacles as less problematic. Discussion centers on nuances regarding these relations and their existence in different contexts, and on implications for self-regulation and motivation.
... So konnte zum Beispiel gezeigt werden, dass Selbstkontrolle versagt, wenn Personen Stress ausgesetzt sind oder wenn eine andere Aufgabe kognitive Ressourcen benötigt (Dang et al., 2020;Strack, Deutsch, 2012). Darüber hinaus führt Selbstkontrolle zu mentaler Erschöpfung (Milyavskaya, Inzlicht, 2017;Inzlicht et al., 2014). Langfristig eingesetzt kann Selbstkontrolle zu Selbstentfremdung führen, da die eigenen Gefühle und Bedürfnisse nicht mehr wahrgenommen werden (Koole et al., 2014) und wird so zum Risikofaktor für Depressionen und Burnout (Baumann et al., 2005). ...
Article
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Die Frage, wie Ziele formuliert werden müssen, um handlungswirksam zu werden, ist seit vielen Jahren Gegenstand psychologischer Forschung. In diesem Beitrag widmen sich die Autor*innen den Motto-Zielen. Einem neuen Typus von Ziel, mit dem nachhaltige Motivation sichergestellt werden kann. Im Kern sind Motto-Ziele persönlich gebildete Metaphern, die eine gewünschte innere Haltung beschreiben. Durch einen spezifischen Bildungsprozess und eine besondere sprachliche Form wird sichergestellt, dass nachhaltige Motivation erzeugt wird. Der Beitrag schließt mit einem Fallbeispiel und einem Einblick in die aktuelle Forschung zu Motto-Zielen.
... Self-control is very influential in everyday life and it is this self-control that determines the behavior of the individual (Galla & Wood, 2015;Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017). students with low self-control will be prone to take deviant actions (Syaibani, Darmayanti, & Hasanuddin, 2019), while students with high selfcontrol will be able to direct and guide their behavior in a more positive direction, are not easily tempted by the changes that occur and can avoid deviant behavior, especially truancy (Thalib, 2017;Sari, Ifdil, Sano, & Yendi, 2020). ...
Article
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This study aims to analyze the contribution of parental social support and self-control both individually and collectively on student truancy behavior. This research uses descriptive correlational quantitative method. The study population was vocational high school students Muhammadiyah 1 Padang registered in the odd semester of the school year 2020/2021 as many as 447 students. The research sample was 127 students, who were selected by purposive sampling technique. The instrument uses a parental social support scale, self-control scale and the results of student absenteeism recapitulation. The research data were analyzed using descriptive correlational statistics and multiple regressions. The research findings proved that parental social support and self-control simultaneously contributed to student truancy behavior as much as 44.5%. The implication of the results of this study can be used as input for creating guidance and counseling service programs in preventing and reducing truancy in students.
... Self-control has historically been defined as an ability to suppress and override human impulses (Baumeister et al., 2007;Tangney et al., 2004). Although more recent conceptualizations recognize that active inhibition of desires is not the only way individuals exert self-control (Fujita, 2011;Hofmann & Kotabe, 2012;Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017), self-control is still commonly viewed as overcoming the very desires that make us human ). ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Desire is part of human nature, and being vulnerable to desire is part of what differentiates humans from machines. However, individuals with high self-control—who demonstrate impressive resistance to their desires—may appear to lack such human vulnerability. We propose that people perceived as high in self-control tend to be dehumanized as more robotic, relating to potentially negative social consequences. Across 6 studies (N = 2,007), people perceived those higher in self-control as more robotic. Additionally, we found some evidence that this robotic-dehumanization was related to less interest in spending time with the high self-control person. This outcome was reliably linked to lower warmth perceptions which correlated with greater robotic-dehumanization. Together, our results offer new insights into the social dynamics of exhibiting high self-control.
... • Similar to delay of gratification • Another 'character building' activity in schools • People who score high on self-control scales score highly on self-report measures of happiness and achievement • However, does self-control result in high achievement? • Note study by Milyavskaya & Inzlicht (2017) • 159 university students monitored at random for a week -rating temptations, desires, selfcontrol • Students who indicated more self-control not more successful in achieving goals • Students who experienced fewer temptations more successful in achieving goals ...
Presentation
Many educational analyses, and subsequent calls for reform, focus on curriculum and pedagogy – what material is taught and how it is taught. Though curriculum and pedagogy undoubtedly are important, we should not forget that non-cognitive or motivational factors play significant roles in students’ behaviour and achievement. These factors include students’ beliefs about themselves as learners, valuing of school, aspirations, estimation of academic abilities, academic and social achievement goals, willingness to delay gratification so as to reach long-term goals, and willingness to persist when work gets hard. How are these beliefs about the self and attitudes towards schools developed? One’s cultural context obviously plays a part. For many years cross-cultural psychology has demonstrated how cultural context shapes attitudes and behaviours. In this presentation we consider cultural context not across countries but within countries - by examining differences in motivational factors across social class. Examination of social class largely has been the preserve of sociologists but increasingly psychologists are considering how the contexts in which we grow shape our attitudes and motivations. This is an area of particular interest because of robust evidence that academic achievement varies significantly by socio-economic status (SES). In an age where schools in many western countries are increasingly differentiated by SES, low relative achievement in schools in low SES areas is troubling. We use the term social class rather than the widely used term of SES. SES is fairly easily quantified using measures such as parents’ educational level or residential postcodes. However, what is missing from SES are social psychological aspects of class such as values, beliefs, and attitudes, the focus of the presentation. While we acknowledge that that the term social class can be provocative and unsettling to some, there is much to gain from a deeper understanding of the ways in which students from different social classes make sense of and negotiate their worlds.
... This lends further support to the idea that unhealthy food stimuli simply may not be as rewarding to participants with HEC as they are to participants with LEC. Although exercising inhibitory control is central to attaining a goal, research suggests that the amount of temptation an individual faces to act on impulses that are inconsistent with that goal may be an even more important determinant of success (Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017). In this case, if an individual is not tempted by the unhealthy foods displayed in food advertisements, it may be easier for them to resist consuming those foods because they have to exhibit less inhibitory control in the first place. ...
Article
Unhealthy food marketing, a ubiquitous food stimulus, may impact response inhibition, making it more difficult to maintain healthy eating behaviors. Individuals with disordered eating may be particularly susceptible to altered inhibition responses to food stimuli making them more vulnerable to unhealthy food marketing, which could perpetuate their disordered eating behaviors. The present study examined response inhibition following exposure to food commercials in young women who reported either high levels of disordered eating (HEC) or low/no disordered eating (LEC) (N = 27; age: M = 19.28, SD = 1.01) by measuring event related potentials (ERPs) during a stop-signal task embedded with food stimuli. Results indicated that participants had significantly higher accuracy on stop trials displaying unhealthy food stimuli than trials displaying healthy food stimuli after viewing non-food commercials but displayed no difference after viewing food commercials. LEC individuals displayed a smaller N200/P300 amplitude in response to food stimuli on the stop-signal task after watching food commercials as compared to non-food commercials, but this difference did not exist for HEC individuals. Results indicate that unhealthy food commercials may impact behavioral and electrophysiological correlates of response inhibition evoked by food stimuli in young women, and individuals with disordered eating might actually be less responsive to food marketing than those without disordered eating.
... We consider depletion as an indicator of control capacity in line with both (a) recent research that uses ISCT as a theoretical paradigm (e.g., Wehrt et al., 2020), and (b) studies on self-regulation noting that depletion reflects one's resource capacity (e.g., Koopman et al., 2020;Lanaj et al., 2019;Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017;Yam et al., 2016). We consider work self-esteem as an indicator of control motivation because ISCT notes that a need to feel effective in a given domain is a source of control motivation (Kotabe & Hofmann, 2015). ...
Article
Full-text available
The work environment is fraught with complex demands, hardships, and challenges, highlighting the need to approach work with self‐compassion each day. We propose that work self‐compassion—a mindset of kindness, gentleness, and care toward oneself as an employee—may generate the resources and motivation needed for self‐regulation at work. Drawing from integrated self‐control theory (ISCT) and theory on self‐compassion, we suggest that on days when employees hold a work self‐compassionate mindset, they will exhibit greater work performance and wellbeing via enhanced resource capacity and motivation. In an experimental experience sampling study, we found that a work self‐compassionate mindset reduced depletion and increased work self‐esteem and thereby heightened daily work engagement and daily resilience. Consequently, employees made greater goal progress at work and experienced higher meaning in life. In a supplemental study, we show that state self‐compassion at work is associated with unique variance in work outcomes beyond compassion received from coworkers. We discuss theoretical and practical implications for self‐compassion in organizational contexts. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
... This is in line with the strength model of self-control which posits that some limited resource is depleted after engaging in an earlier resource depleting task that consequently diminishes subsequent task performance Muraven et al., 1998). To illustrate that the distal impact of emotion regulation is in line with the strength model of self-control, a diary study that took place in several months found that experiencing mere temptation alone makes people feel mentally fatigued, and consequently became a barrier in their selfregulatory goal attainment (Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017). ...
Article
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Encountering hostile clients among customer service roles is common. Their job role demands expected emotional adjustment called emotional labor. They employ a particular type of emotional labor, called surface acting emotional labor (SAEL), when they wear an emotional mask to hide what one truly feels in a situation to show a different desirable emotion. In the strength model of self-control, SAEL is considered a resource-depleting task. It is assumed that some limited resource gets depleted when one engages in overriding inner responses for an overarching goal. SAEL as a resource-depleting emotional labor is predicted to negatively affect subsequent unrelated resource-depleting tasks. However, some individuals get mentally fatigued faster than others. This individual difference in rate of resource depletion is called depletion sensitivity (DS). In this paper, I examined whether surface acting emotional labor predicts self-control as manifested by typically controlled tempting behavior, compulsive buying (CB) through individual differences in depletion sensitivity. A total of 116 customer service employees answered an online survey measuring emotional labor, depletion sensitivity, and recent compulsive buying behavior with acceptable to excellent internal consistency reliability. Results from mediation analysis showed that SAEL has no direct, but has an indirect relationship with CB, mediated by DS. The findings suggest that the maladaptive emotional regulation in the workplace promotes poor self-control, specifically shopping behavior, through individual difference in depletion sensitivity. The strength model of self-control is supported. Future studies may look into the role of implicit theories of self-control for intervention.
... Research has found that people with higher self-control were happier because of their more promotion-focused and less prevention-focused orientations (Cheung et al., 2014). Other studies have demonstrated that the interaction between state self-control (e.g., ego depletion) and motivation affects individual performance (Milyavskaya and Inzlicht, 2017). Furthermore, motivation and subjective wellbeing are also closely associated. ...
Article
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It is well documented that self-control has a positive effect on individuals’ subjective well-being. However, little research has focused on the moderators underlying this relationship. The present research used two studies to examine the moderating role of both trait and state motivation on the relationship between self-control and subjective well-being using psychometric and experimental models, respectively. In Study 1, we explored whether trait motivation (including promotion vs. prevention motivation) moderated the relationship between trait self-control and subjective well-being using a psychometric model. In Study 2, we examined the moderating effects of both trait and state motivation on the effect of state self-control (measured via ego depletion) on subjective well-being using an experimental model. Our results indicated that self-control had a positive effect on subjective well-being, with this relationship being primarily moderated by prevention motivation. When state and trait prevention motivations were congruent, self-control had the most obvious impact on subjective well-being. This study suggests that current understandings around the association between self-control and happiness is limited, implying that motivation should be the focus of future research.
... This strategy, which is often seen as a last resort by researchers in this domain (Duckworth et al., 2019), is the closest to the lay understanding of self-control and the view of self-regulation espoused in the resource model of self-control (Baumeister, 2014). While there is some evidence that effortful inhibition (commonly framed as willpower) can work effectively in tandem with other strategies (Milyavskaya et al., 2020), most studies indicate that simply resisting temptations is not effective at supporting goal attainment (Duckworth et al., 2016a(Duckworth et al., , 2019Milyavskaya & Inzlicht, 2017)-active intervention is needed for effective self-regulation. ...
Chapter
The chapter investigates digital distraction in college classrooms from the perspective of self-regulation theory. To this end, the chapter commences with a brief analysis of the distinction between behavioural and cognitive shifts in attention, the role of intentionality in digital distraction, and the concept of online vigilance. Thereafter the general premises of self-regulation theory are described, and prominent theoretical models that have emerged in this domain are briefly outlined. Two models deemed particularly applicable to digital distraction are selected from these. The first is the value-based choice model which frames self-regulation as a process of deliberative decision-making which foregoes action taking. The second is the process model which emphasises the strategies individuals employ to prevent goal conflict. Both models are described before being applied as interpretive lenses to analyse key findings from empirical studies of digital distraction.
... Thus, the skill model suggests the prevalence of diachronic self-control strategies in skilled agents. This is in fact supported by evidence suggesting that long-term goal attainment is correlated, not with more successfully resisting temptation, but with feeling tempted less frequently (Hofmann et al. 2012;Milyavskaya and Inzlicht 2017). Additionally, trait self-control measures are robustly correlated with the tendency to engage in planning (Sjåstad and Baumeister 2018). ...
Article
Full-text available
Researchers often claim that self-control is a skill. It is also often stated that self-control exertions are intentional actions. However, no account has yet been proposed of the skillful agency that makes self-control exertion possible, so our understanding of self-control remains incomplete. Here I propose the skill model of self-control, which accounts for skillful agency by tackling the guidance problem: how can agents transform their abstract and coarse-grained intentions into the highly context-sensitive, fine-grained control processes required to select, revise and correct strategies during self-control exertion? The skill model borrows conceptual tools from 'hierarchical models' recently developed in the context of motor skills, and asserts that self-control crucially involves the ability to manage the implementation and monitoring of regulatory strategies as the self-control exercise unfolds. Skilled agents are able do this by means of flexible practical reasoning: a fast, context-sensitive type of deliberation that incorporates non-propositional representations (including feedback signals about strategy implementation, such as the feeling of mental effort) into the formation and revision of the mixed-format intentions that structure self-control exertion. The literatures on implementation intentions and motivation framing offer corroborating evidence for the theory. As a surprising result, the skill of self-control that allows agents to overcome the contrary motivations they experience is self-effacing: instead of continuously honing this skill, expert agents replace it with a different one, which minimizes or prevents contrary motivations from arising in the first place. Thus, the more expert someone is at self-control,
Article
Objective: Poor cognition increases risk for negative health outcomes, and this may be explained by associations with systemic inflammation. Previously, amount of repetitive thought (Total RT) interacted with IQ to predict interleukin-6 (IL-6) in older adults. This study continued the investigation of repetitive thought (RT) as an element involved in the effect of cognition on inflammation. Design: Participants (N = 164) came from the Midlife in the United States Refresher project (Mage = 45.33, SD = 11.51, ranges = 25-74; 48.2% female; 85% Caucasian). Cognition was assessed via telephone, inflammatory biomarkers (IL-6, C-reactive protein (CRP), and tumour-necrosis factor-alpha (TNF- α)) analysed after blood draw, and RT derived from daily diary data. Results: Cognition significantly interacted with RT valence (p = .009) to explain CRP after covariate adjustment. Better cognition and more negative RT valence was associated with lower CRP (β = -0.190 [-.387, .008]). Worse cognition and more negative RT valence was associated with higher CRP (β = 0.133 [-.031, .297]). No significant effects were found for IL-6 or TNF-α. Conclusion: RT may interact with cognition to affect different inflammatory biomarkers. Those with worse cognition may benefit more from skills related to regulating thought than those with better cognition.
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Objective What strategies do people use to resist desires in their day‐to‐day life? How effective are these strategies? Do people use different strategies for different desires? This study addresses these questions using experience sampling to examine strategy use in daily life. Method Participants (N = 197, Mage = 20.4, 63% female) reported on their use of six specific strategies (situation modification, distraction, reminding self of goals, promise to give in later, reminder of why it is bad, willpower) to resist desires (4,462 desires reported over a week). Results Participants reported using at least one strategy 89% of the time, and more than one strategy 25% of the time. Goal reminders and promises to give in later were more likely to be used for stronger desires. People also preferred different strategies for different types of desires (e.g., eating vs. leisure vs. work, etc.). Conclusion In contrast to recent theoretical predictions, we find that many strategies, including inhibition, are similarly effective and that using multiple strategies is especially effective.
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The purpose of this article was to explore how individuals’ position in a socioeconomic hierarchy is related to health behaviours that are related to socioeconomic disparities in health. We identified research which shows that: (a) low socioeconomic status (SES) is associated with living in harsh environments, (b) harsh environments are related to increased levels of stress and inflammation, (c) stress and inflammation impact neural systems involved in self-control by sensitising the impulsive system and desensitising the reflective system, (d) the effects are inflated valuations of small immediate rewards and deflated valuations of larger delayed rewards, (e) these effects are observed as increased delay discounting, and (f) delay discounting is positively associated with practicing more unhealthy behaviours. The results are discussed within an adaptive evolutionary framework which lays out how the stress response system, and its interaction with the immune system and brain systems for decision-making and behaviours, provides the biopsychological mechanisms and regulatory shifts that make widespread conditional adaptability possible. Consequences for policy work, interventions, and future research are discussed.
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Despite a strong consensus about humanity's responsibility for climate change, many people fail to behave in line with their pro-environmental attitudes and the question of how to overcome this environmental attitude-behavior gap remains a puzzle. To address this lacuna, the present research provides further insights into motivational, dispositional, and structural factors underlying pro-environmental behavior. Based on a decision-task with actual environmental consequences (n = 1536), we show that pro-environmental attitudes are more predictive of environmental behavior when personal costs are low and environmental benefits are high. Importantly, self-control helps people to act in line with their attitudes, suggesting that self-control is a crucial trait for protecting people's long-term pro-environmental goals. We propose that mitigation strategies should take into account the motivational, dispositional and structural complexity associated with pro-environmental decisions.
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Students often work on academic tasks in the face of an attractive alternative. In an experimental setting, we examined how students perceive temptation differently across time depending on their self-efficacy for self-regulated learning and autonomy-supportive contexts. Specifically, we focussed on how individual differences in self-efficacy for self-regulated learning interact with different autonomy-supportive contexts (provision of either choice or relevance) to predict students’ perceived temptation, affect, and performance across time. Results indicated that students low in self-efficacy for self-regulated learning perceived an increase in temptation across time, while those high in self-efficacy for self-regulated learning perceived a decrease in temptation across time. Moreover, we found that especially for students with low self-efficacy for self-regulated learning, providing choice opportunities or adding relevance to the task predicted lower temptation, higher positive affect, and lower negative affect.
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Some people report encountering fewer obstacles during goal pursuit than others, but why is this the case? Seven pre-registered studies examine the role of goal motivation (want-to and have-to) and trait self-control in how individuals set up and perceive obstacles to goal pursuit in their environment. Findings show that want-to motivation and trait self-control were associated with reducing the experience of obstacles; have-to motivation was associated with a preference for greater proximity to obstacles. Have-to motivation was related to stronger perceptions of obstacles as problematic, and trait self-control was related to the perception of obstacles as less problematic. Discussion centers on nuances regarding these relations and their existence in different contexts, and on implications for self-regulation and motivation.
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Philosophers, psychologists, and economists have reached the consensus that one can use two different kinds of regulation to achieve self-control. Synchronic regulation uses willpower to resist current temptation. Diachronic regulation implements a plan to avoid future temptation. Yet this consensus may rest on contaminated intuitions. Specifically, agents typically use willpower (synchronic regulation) to achieve their plans to avoid temptation (diachronic regulation). So even if cases of diachronic regulation seem to involve self-control, this may be because they are contaminated by synchronic regulation. We therefore developed a novel multifactorial method to disentangle synchronic and diachronic regulation. Using this method, we find that ordinary usage assumes that only synchronic––not diachronic––regulation counts as self-control. We find this pattern across four experiments involving different kinds of temptation, as well as a paradigmatic case of diachronic regulation based on the classic story of Odysseus and the Sirens. Our final experiment finds that self-control in a diachronic case depends on whether the agent uses synchronic regulation at two moments: when she (1) initiates and (2) follows-through on a plan to resist temptation. Taken together, our results strongly suggest that synchronic regulation is the sole difference maker in the folk concept of self-control.
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The amygdala is the main emphasis in the study of psychological mechanism of emotion and possess important fear function. This study discussed the effect of amygdala on emotion of fear from two aspects: fear recognition and fear experience. Conclusion from recent and early studies has been reviewed. Amygdala has no specific effect on fear recognition but engage higher cognitive function. In addition, Amygdala plays a substantial role on fear experience with the function of acquiring, remembering and expressing about fear. Future research should focus on the following areas: such as the effect of amygdala on fear recognition and its role to connect cognition and experience, the effect of brain regions around the amygdala on fear and eventually, the effect of other brain regions except for amygdala involved in fear response which triggered by interoceptive stimulus.
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There are many ways in which researchers ask participants about their personal goals or projects, yet findings are subsequently considered interchangeable. This study experimentally tested whether different ways of asking participants about their goals elicits different goals and impacts reports of goal progress. Undergraduate participants (N = 285) were assigned to one of three conditions (personal projects, personal goals, open-ended goals), listed an unlimited number of goals they were currently pursing, rated each goal on a series of goal characteristics, and six weeks later reported on their goal progress. Results indicated that participants reported significantly more goals in the personal project condition than in the other two conditions, and that these goals were rated as less difficult. Overall, the present study provides further insight into the effects of the elicitation methods employed in goal pursuit research.
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This study aimed to identify the variables (i.e., internalizing, and externalizing problems, self-control, emotion dysregulation, and alexithymia) relevant for Smartphone Addiction and non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), conceptualized as emotion-regulation strategies, also assessing age and gender differences. Based on power analysis, N = 78 Italian adolescents (11–19 years; M age = 14.24; SD = 1.56; 73.1% females) were considered. Step-wise multivariate linear regressions evidence a mutual association between NSSI and Smartphone Addiction, particularly relevant in pre-adolescence. Low self-control is significantly associated with the Smartphone Addiction, while emotion dysregulation and alexithymia with NSSI. This study supports NSSI and Smartphone Addiction conceptualization as emotion-regulation strategies and the importance of prevention interventions.
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Good self-control has been linked to adaptive outcomes such as better health, cohesive personal relationships, success in the workplace and at school, and less susceptibility to crime and addictions. In contrast, self-control failure is linked to maladaptive outcomes. Understanding the mechanisms by which self-control predicts behavior may assist in promoting better regulation and outcomes. A popular approach to understanding self-control is the strength or resource depletion model. Self-control is conceptualized as a limited resource that becomes depleted after a period of exertion resulting in self-control failure. The model has typically been tested using a sequential-task experimental paradigm, in which people completing an initial self-control task have reduced self-control capacity and poorer performance on a subsequent task, a state known as ego depletion. Although a meta-analysis of ego-depletion experiments found a medium-sized effect, subsequent meta-analyses have questioned the size and existence of the effect and identified instances of possible bias. The analyses served as a catalyst for the current Registered Replication Report of the ego-depletion effect. Multiple laboratories (k = 23, total N = 2,141) conducted replications of a standardized ego-depletion protocol based on a sequential-task paradigm by Sripada et al. Meta-analysis of the studies revealed that the size of the ego-depletion effect was small with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) that encompassed zero (d = 0.04, 95% CI [−0.07, 0.15]. We discuss implications of the findings for the ego-depletion effect and the resource depletion model of self-control.
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The objective of the present study was to examine whether subjective ease of goal pursuit would mediate the relation between an individual's motivation for pursuing a goal and their subsequent goal progress. Toward the beginning of a university semester, participants (n = 176) identified three goals they planned to pursue throughout the semester and reported their motivation for pursuing each of them. Participants then indicated, at two monthly follow-ups, how easy and natural it felt to pursue these goals and how much effort they were putting into attaining them. At the end of the semester, participants reported on their goal progress. Within-person analyses indicated that self-concordant goals were perceived as being easier to pursue relative to an individual's other goals. Using multilevel structural equation modeling, results indicated that subjective ease, but not effort, mediated the relation between motivation and goal progress, such that people were more likely to successfully accomplish self-concordant goals because pursuing those goals was perceived as being more effortless, and not because more effort was exerted. Discussion focuses on the implications and future directions for research on subjective effort and goal pursuit.
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Experience sampling or ecological momentary assessment offers unique insights into how people think, feel, and behave in their natural environments. Because the method is able to capture situational variation as it happens in “real time,” experience sampling has become an increasingly popular method in social and personality, psychology, and beyond. With the ubiquity of smartphone ownership and the recent technical advances, conducting experience sampling studies on participants’ own devices has become increasingly easy to do. Here, we present one reliable, user-friendly, highly customizable, and cost-effective solution. The web-based application, SurveySignal, integrates the idea of using short message service (SMS) messages as signals and reminders, according to fixed or random schedules and of linking these signals to mobile surveys designed with common online survey software. We describe the method and customizable parameters and then present evaluation results from nine social–psychological studies conducted with SurveySignal (overall N = 1,852). Mean response rates averaged 77% and the median response delay to signals was 8 min. An experimental manipulation of the reminder signal in one study showed that installing a reminder SMS led to a 10% increase in response rates. Next to advantages and limitations of the SMS approach, we discuss how ecologically valid research methods such as smartphone experience sampling can enrich psychological research.
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In contrast to prevailing beliefs, recent research suggests that trait self-control promotes health behavior not because those high in self-control are more successful at resisting single temptations, but rather because they develop adaptive habits. The present paper presents a first empirical test of this novel suggestion by investigating the mediating role of habit in explaining the relation between self-control and unhealthy snacking behavior. Results showed that self-control was negatively associated with unhealthy snack consumption and unhealthy snacking habits. As hypothesized, the relation between self-control and unhealthy snack intake was mediated by habit strength. Self-control was not associated with fruit consumption or fruit consumption habits. These results provide the first evidence for the notion that high self-control may influence the formation of habits and in turn affect behavior. Moreover, results imply that self-control may be particularly influential in case of inhibiting unhealthy food intake rather than promoting healthy food intake.
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Why does performing certain tasks cause the aversive experience of mental effort and concomitant deterioration in task performance? One explanation posits a physical resource that is depleted over time. We propose an alternative explanation that centers on mental representations of the costs and benefits associated with task performance. Specifically, certain computational mechanisms, especially those associated with executive function, can be deployed for only a limited number of simultaneous tasks at any given moment. Consequently, the deployment of these computational mechanisms carries an opportunity cost - that is, the next-best use to which these systems might be put. We argue that the phenomenology of effort can be understood as the felt output of these cost/benefit computations. In turn, the subjective experience of effort motivates reduced deployment of these computational mechanisms in the service of the present task. These opportunity cost representations, then, together with other cost/benefit calculations, determine effort expended and, everything else equal, result in performance reductions. In making our case for this position, we review alternative explanations for both the phenomenology of effort associated with these tasks and for performance reductions over time. Likewise, we review the broad range of relevant empirical results from across sub-disciplines, especially psychology and neuroscience. We hope that our proposal will help to build links among the diverse fields that have been addressing similar questions from different perspectives, and we emphasize ways in which alternative models might be empirically distinguished.
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According to the resource model of self-control, overriding one's predominant response tendencies consumes and temporarily depletes a limited inner resource. Over 100 experiments have lent support to this model of ego depletion by observing that acts of self-control at Time 1 reduce performance on subsequent, seemingly unrelated self-control tasks at Time 2. The time is now ripe, therefore, not only to broaden the scope of the model but to start gaining a precise, mechanistic account of it. Accordingly, in the current article, the authors probe the particular cognitive, affective, and motivational mechanics of self-control and its depletion, asking, "What is ego depletion?" This study proposes a process model of depletion, suggesting that exerting self-control at Time 1 causes temporary shifts in both motivation and attention that undermine self-control at Time 2. The article highlights evidence in support of this model but also highlights where evidence is lacking, thus providing a blueprint for future research. Though the process model of depletion may sacrifice the elegance of the resource metaphor, it paints a more precise picture of ego depletion and suggests several nuanced predictions for future research. © The Author(s) 2012.
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The field of self-control has witnessed an unprecedented boom, not least due to the immense implications of successful and unsuccessful self-control for people’s lives. However, successful and unsuccessful self-control can take many different forms, and many conceptual problems have been raised as to what self-control is about and how to best study it. Integrating different literatures, we provide a general model of self-control which distinguishes between preventive (i.e., anticipatory) and interventive (i.e., momentary) forms of self-control. The proposed Preventive-Interventive Model (PI-Model) of Self-Control combines seven basic components: preventive strategies, desire, conflict, control motivation, volition, opportunity constraints, and behavior enactment. The resulting taxonomy helps to distinguish self-control from standard motivational processes, to define the concept of temptation, and to identify different types of self-control failure including self-monitoring failure, motivational self-control failure, and volitional self-control failure. Further, the model helps to outline five broad mechanisms through which people may be able to proactively boost self-control success.
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Often, health behavior seems to be governed not only by reasoned attitudes and goal-directed behavior but also by impulsive influences. The notion of a conflict between reflective and impulsive processing which is incorporated in prominent dual-system accounts (e.g., Metcalfe & Mischel, 1999; Strack & Deutsch, 2004) may yield important benefits for the understanding and prediction of health-related behavior. In this article, we suggest a basic framework for the prediction of health-related behavior which combines (a) reflective influences (as measured via self-report), (b) impulsive influences (as measured via implicit measures), and (c) situational or dispositional moderators that shift the weight between reflective and impulsive influences. The practical utility of such a framework is demonstrated by drawing on recent evidence from several areas of health psychology such as eating, drinking, drug abuse, and sexual behavior. Implications for the understanding of health behavior and applied health interventions are discussed. Impulsive versus reflective influences on health behavior: a theoretical framework and empirical review I have no self-control when it comes to eating snacks. I'll start off watching a movie with a bag of potato chips and think to myself, one bag should last the entire movie . . . I'll pace myself, and eat one chip at a time every three minutes and finish the bag with the closing credits. Everything starts off fine. I am the very model of patience and sophistication. But there's this point, maybe half-way through the bag, where an uncontrollable change comes over me. Suddenly, I'm like the Tasmanian Devil on crack. I can't get those chips into my mouth fast enough. I start breaking my own rules, eating them two or three at a time, inverting the bag, tearing it to pieces to get the final crumbs of salty goodness into me, licking my fingers, and feeling like a winner after discovering lost reservoirs of chip crumbs in the folds of my shirt. Then the previews end, and I'm left without anything to eat during the movie. As captured nicely in this short passage from the internet article ''potato chips'' by Daniel Isaac (2008), people time and again experience that sticking to a preconceived plan may fail in the heat of temptation: Some end up eating or drinking more than they admit is good for them, some consume toxic substances, and some embark on sexual adventures with unknown risks. Pleasurable as they are for the moment, such behaviors often lead to negative health outcomes in the long run, ranging from regret the next day to premature
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Though human beings embody a unique ability for planned behavior, they also often act impulsively. This insight may be important for the study of self-control situations in which people are torn between their long-term goals to restrain behavior and their immediate impulses that promise hedonic fulfillment. In the present article, we outline a dual-systems perspective of impulse and self-control and suggest a framework for the prediction of self-control outcomes. This framework combines three elements that, considered jointly, may enable a more precise prediction of self-control outcomes than they do when studied in isolation: impulsive precursors of behavior, reflective precursors, and situational or dispositional boundary conditions. The theoretical and practical utility of such an approach is demonstrated by drawing on recent evidence from several domains of self-control such as eating, drinking, and sexual behavior. © 2009 Association for Psychological Science.
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Self-control is a central function of the self and an important key to success in life. The exertion of self-control appears to depend on a limited resource. Just as a muscle gets tired from exertion, acts of self-control cause short-term impairments (ego depletion) in subsequent self-control, even on unrelated tasks. Research has supported the strength model in the domains of eating, drinking, spending, sexuality, intelligent thought, making choices, and interpersonal behavior. Motivational or framing factors can temporarily block the deleterious effects of being in a state of ego depletion. Blood glucose is an important component of the energy.
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In the present study, we used experience sampling to measure desires and desire regulation in everyday life. Our analysis included data from 205 adults, who furnished a total of 7,827 reports of their desires over the course of a week. Across various desire domains, results revealed substantial differences in desire frequency and strength, the degree of conflict between desires and other goals, and the likelihood of resisting desire and the success of this resistance. Desires for sleep and sex were experienced most intensively, whereas desires for tobacco and alcohol had the lowest average strength, despite the fact that these substances are thought of as addictive. Desires for leisure and sleep conflicted the most with other goals, and desires for media use and work brought about the most self-control failure. In addition, we observed support for a limited-resource model of self-control employing a novel operationalization of cumulative resource depletion: The frequency and recency of engaging in prior self-control negatively predicted people's success at resisting subsequent desires on the same day.
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Four studies investigate asymmetric shifts in the implicit value of goal and temptation that pose a self-control dilemma. We find that accessible goals reduce the implicit positive valence of tempting alternatives, whereas accessible temptations increase the implicit positive valence of goal alternatives. We observe these asymmetric shifts across two self-regulatory domains: healthful food consumption (vs. indulgence) and the pursuit of academic excellence (vs. leisure). These findings suggest that two conflicting motivations can exert opposite influence on each other’s implicit evaluation.
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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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Given assertions of the theoretical, empirical, and practical importance of self-control, this meta-analytic study sought to review evidence concerning the relationship between dispositional self-control and behavior. The authors provide a brief overview over prominent theories of self-control, identifying implicit assumptions surrounding the effects of self-control that warrant empirical testing. They report the results of a meta-analysis of 102 studies (total N = 32,648) investigating the behavioral effects of self-control using the Self-Control Scale, the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale, and the Low Self-Control Scale. A small to medium positive effect of self-control on behavior was found for the three scales. Only the Self-Control Scale allowed for a fine-grained analysis of conceptual moderators of the self-control behavior relation. Specifically, self-control (measured by the Self-Control Scale) related similarly to the performance of desired behaviors and the inhibition of undesired behaviors, but its effects varied dramatically across life domains (e.g., achievement, adjustment). In addition, the associations between self-control and behavior were significantly stronger for automatic (as compared to controlled) behavior and for imagined (as compared to actual) behavior.
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Policy-makers are considering large-scale programs aimed at self-control to improve citizens' health and wealth and reduce crime. Experimental and economic studies suggest such programs could reap benefits. Yet, is self-control important for the health, wealth, and public safety of the population? Following a cohort of 1,000 children from birth to the age of 32 y, we show that childhood self-control predicts physical health, substance dependence, personal finances, and criminal offending outcomes, following a gradient of self-control. Effects of children's self-control could be disentangled from their intelligence and social class as well as from mistakes they made as adolescents. In another cohort of 500 sibling-pairs, the sibling with lower self-control had poorer outcomes, despite shared family background. Interventions addressing self-control might reduce a panoply of societal costs, save taxpayers money, and promote prosperity.
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The present research tested the hypothesis that exercising self-control causes an increase in approach motivation. Study 1 found that exercising (vs. not exercising) self-control increases self-reported approach motivation. Study 2a identified a behavior--betting on low-stakes gambles--that is correlated with approach motivation but is relatively uncorrelated with self-control, and Study 2b observed that exercising self-control temporarily increases this behavior. Last, Study 3 found that exercising self-control facilitates the perception of a reward-relevant symbol (i.e., a dollar sign) but not a reward-irrelevant symbol (i.e., a percent sign). Altogether, these results support the hypothesis that exercising self-control temporarily increases approach motivation. Failures of self-control that follow from prior efforts at self-control (i.e., ego depletion) may be explained in part by increased approach motivation.
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According to the strength model, self-control is a finite resource that determines capacity for effortful control over dominant responses and, once expended, leads to impaired self-control task performance, known as ego depletion. A meta-analysis of 83 studies tested the effect of ego depletion on task performance and related outcomes, alternative explanations and moderators of the effect, and additional strength model hypotheses. Results revealed a significant effect of ego depletion on self-control task performance. Significant effect sizes were found for ego depletion on effort, perceived difficulty, negative affect, subjective fatigue, and blood glucose levels. Small, nonsignificant effects were found for positive affect and self-efficacy. Moderator analyses indicated minimal variation in the effect across sphere of depleting and dependent task, frequently used depleting and dependent tasks, presentation of tasks as single or separate experiments, type of dependent measure and control condition task, and source laboratory. The effect size was moderated by depleting task duration, task presentation by the same or different experimenters, intertask interim period, dependent task complexity, and use of dependent tasks in the choice and volition and cognitive spheres. Motivational incentives, training on self-control tasks, and glucose supplementation promoted better self-control in ego-depleted samples. Expecting further acts of self-control exacerbated the effect. Findings provide preliminary support for the ego-depletion effect and strength model hypotheses. Support for motivation and fatigue as alternative explanations for ego depletion indicate a need to integrate the strength model with other theories. Findings provide impetus for future investigation testing additional hypotheses and mechanisms of the ego-depletion effect.
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A 2-system framework is proposed for understanding the processes that enable--and undermine--self-control or "willpower" as exemplified in the delay of gratification paradigm. A cool, cognitive "know" system and a hot, emotional "go" system are postulated. The cool system is cognitive, emotionally neutral, contemplative, flexible, integrated, coherent, spatiotemporal, slow, episodic, and strategic. It is the seat of self-regulation and self-control. The hot system is the basis of emotionality, fears as well as passions--impulsive and reflexive--initially controlled by innate releasing stimuli (and, thus, literally under "stimulus control"): it is fundamental for emotional (classical) conditioning and undermines efforts at self-control. The balance between the hot and cool systems is determined by stress, developmental level, and the individual's self-regulatory dynamics. The interactions between these systems allow explanation of findings on willpower from 3 decades of research.
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How do anticipated short-term costs affect the likelihood of engaging in an activity that has long-term benefits. Five studies investigated the factors that determine (a) how anticipated short-term costs elicit self-control efforts and (b) how self-control efforts eventually diminish the influence of short-term costs on behavior. The studies manipulated short-term costs (e.g., painful medical procedures) and assessed a variety of self-control strategies (e.g., self-imposed penalties for failure to undergo a test). The results show that short-term costs elicit self-control strategies for self rather than others, before rather than after behavior. when long-term benefits are important rather than unimportant and when the costs are moderate rather than extremely small or large. The results also show that the self-control efforts help people act according to their long-term interests.
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This article describes a 2-systems model that explains social behavior as a joint function of reflective and impulsive processes. In particular, it is assumed that social behavior is controlled by 2 interacting systems that follow different operating principles. The reflective system generates behavioral decisions that are based on knowledge about facts and values, whereas the impulsive system elicits behavior through associative links and motivational orientations. The proposed model describes how the 2 systems interact at various stages of processing, and how their outputs may determine behavior in a synergistic or antagonistic fashion. It extends previous models by integrating motivational components that allow more precise predictions of behavior. The implications of this reflective-impulsive model are applied to various phenomena from social psychology and beyond. Extending previous dual-process accounts, this model is not limited to specific domains of mental functioning and attempts to integrate cognitive, motivational, and behavioral mechanisms.
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Five studies examined whether, in self-control dilemmas, individuals develop an implicit disposition to approach goals and avoid temptations, psychologically as well as physically. Using a method developed by A. K. Solarz (1960; see also K. L. Duckworth, J. A. Bargh, M. Garcia, & S. Chaiken, 2002), the authors assessed the time for pulling and pushing a lever in response to goal- and temptation-related stimuli (e.g., studying and partying). The results show that individuals offset the influence of tempting activities by automatically avoiding these stimuli (faster pushing responses) and by approaching stimuli related to an overarching goal (faster pulling responses). These implicit self-control dispositions varied as a function of the magnitude of the self-control conflict, itself defined by how strongly individuals were attracted to temptations and held the longer term goal. These dispositions were further shown to play a role in successful self-control.
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A central theme in recent research on attitudes is the distinction between deliberate, "explicit" attitudes and automatic, "implicit" attitudes. The present article provides an integrative review of the available evidence on implicit and explicit attitude change that is guided by a distinction between associative and propositional processes. Whereas associative processes are characterized by mere activation independent of subjective truth or falsity, propositional reasoning is concerned with the validation of evaluations and beliefs. The proposed associative-propositional evaluation (APE) model makes specific assumptions about the mutual interplay of the 2 processes, implying several mechanisms that lead to symmetric or asymmetric changes in implicit and explicit attitudes. The model integrates a broad range of empirical evidence and implies several new predictions for implicit and explicit attitude change.
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The current research tested the hypothesis that making many choices impairs subsequent self-control. Drawing from a limited-resource model of self-regulation and executive function, the authors hypothesized that decision making depletes the same resource used for self-control and active responding. In 4 laboratory studies, some participants made choices among consumer goods or college course options, whereas others thought about the same options without making choices. Making choices led to reduced self-control (i.e., less physical stamina, reduced persistence in the face of failure, more procrastination, and less quality and quantity of arithmetic calculations). A field study then found that reduced self-control was predicted by shoppers' self-reported degree of previous active decision making. Further studies suggested that choosing is more depleting than merely deliberating and forming preferences about options and more depleting than implementing choices made by someone else and that anticipating the choice task as enjoyable can reduce the depleting effect for the first choices but not for many choices.
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Two studies used the self-concordance model of healthy goal striving (K. M. Sheldon & A. J. Elliot, 1999) to examine the motivational processes by which people can increase their level of well-being during a period of time and then maintain the gain or perhaps increase it even further during the next period of time. In Study I, entering freshmen with self-concordant motivation better attained their 1st-semester goals, which in turn predicted increased adjustment and greater self-concordance for the next semester's goals. Increased self-concordance in turn predicted even better goal attainment during the 2nd semester, which led to further increases in adjustment and to higher levels of ego development by the end of the year. Study 2 replicated the basic model in a 2-week study of short-term goals set in the laboratory. Limits of the model and implications for the question of how (and whether) happiness may be increased are discussed.
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Exercising self-control is often difficult, whether declining a drink in order to drive home safely, passing on the chocolate cake to stay on a diet, or ignoring text messages to finish reading an important paper. But enacting self-control is not always difficult, particularly when it takes the form of proactively choosing or changing situations in ways that weaken undesirable impulses or potentiate desirable ones. Examples of situational self-control include the partygoer who chooses a seat far from where drinks are being poured, the dieter who asks the waiter not to bring around the dessert cart, and the student who goes to the library without a cell phone. Using the process model of self-control, we argue that the full range of self-control strategies can be organized by considering the timeline of the developing tempting impulse. Because impulses tend to grow stronger over time, situational self-control strategies—which can nip a tempting impulse in the bud—may be especially effective in preventing undesirable action. Ironically, we may underappreciate situational self-control for the same reason it is so effective—namely, that by manipulating our circumstances to advantage, we are often able to minimize the in-the-moment experience of intrapsychic struggle typically associated with exercising self-control.
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Fatigue can have a major impact on an individual’s performance and wellbeing, yet is poorly understood, even within the scientific community. There is no developed theory of its origins or functions, and different types of fatigue (mental, physical, sleepiness) are routinely confused. The widespread interpretation of fatigue as a negative consequence of work may be true only for externally imposed goals; meaningful or self-initiated work is rarely tiring and often invigorating. In the fi rst book dedicated to the systematic treatment of fatigue for over sixty years, Robert Hockey examines its many aspects – social history, neuroscience, energetics, exercise physiology, sleep and clinical implications – and develops a new motivational control theory, in which fatigue is treated as an emotion having a fundamental adaptive role in the management of goals. He then uses this new perspective to explore the role of fatigue in relation to individual motivation, working life and wellbeing.
Article
Self-regulation has been conceptualized as the interplay between controlled and impulsive processes; however, most research has focused on the controlled side (i.e., effortful self-control). The present studies focus on the effects of motivation on impulsive processes, including automatic preferences for goal-disruptive stimuli and subjective reports of temptations and obstacles, contrasting them with effects on controlled processes. This is done by examining people's implicit affective reactions in the face of goal-disruptive "temptations" (Studies 1 and 2), subjective reports of obstacles (Studies 2 and 3) and expended effort (Study 3), as well as experiences of desires and self-control in real-time using experience sampling (Study 4). Across these multiple methods, results show that want-to motivation results in decreased impulsive attraction to goal-disruptive temptations and is related to encountering fewer obstacles in the process of goal pursuit. This, in turn, explains why want-to goals are more likely to be attained. Have-to motivation, on the other hand, was unrelated to people's automatic reactions to temptation cues but related to greater subjective perceptions of obstacles and tempting desires. The discussion focuses on the implications of these findings for self-regulation and motivation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
Article
Self-control is of invaluable importance for well-being. While previous research has focused on self-control failure, we introduce a new perspective on self-control, including the notion of effortless self-control, and a focus on self-control success rather than failure. We propose that effortless strategies of dealing with response conflict (i.e., competing behavioral tendencies) are what distinguishes successful self-controllers from less successful ones. While people with high trait self-control may recognize the potential for response conflict in self-control dilemmas, they do not seem to subjectively experience this conflict as much as people with low self-control. Two strategies may underlie this difference: avoidance of response conflict through adaptive, habitual behaviors, and the efficient downregulating of response conflict. These strategies as well as the role of response conflict are elaborated upon and discussed in the light of existing literature on self-control.
Article
Why does self-control predict such a wide array of positive life outcomes? Conventional wisdom holds that self-control is used to effortfully inhibit maladaptive impulses, yet this view conflicts with emerging evidence that self-control is associated with less inhibition in daily life. We propose that one of the reasons individuals with better self-control use less effortful inhibition, yet make better progress on their goals is that they rely on beneficial habits. Across 6 studies (total N = 2,274), we found support for this hypothesis. In Study 1, habits for eating healthy snacks, exercising, and getting consistent sleep mediated the effect of self-control on both increased automaticity and lower reported effortful inhibition in enacting those behaviors. In Studies 2 and 3, study habits mediated the effect of self-control on reduced motivational interference during a work-leisure conflict and on greater ability to study even under difficult circumstances. In Study 4, homework habits mediated the effect of self-control on classroom engagement and homework completion. Study 5 was a prospective longitudinal study of teenage youth who participated in a 5-day meditation retreat. Better self-control before the retreat predicted stronger meditation habits 3 months after the retreat, and habits mediated the effect of self-control on successfully accomplishing meditation practice goals. Finally, in Study 6, study habits mediated the effect of self-control on homework completion and 2 objectively measured long-term academic outcomes: grade point average and first-year college persistence. Collectively, these results suggest that beneficial habits-perhaps more so than effortful inhibition-are an important factor linking self-control with positive life outcomes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
Article
Self-control refers to the mental processes that allow people to override thoughts and emotions, thus enabling behavior to vary adaptively from moment to moment. Dominating contemporary research on this topic is the viewpoint that self-control relies upon a limited resource, such that engaging in acts of restraint depletes this inner capacity and undermines subsequent attempts at control (i.e., ego depletion). Noting theoretical and empirical problems with this view, here we advance a competing model that develops a non-resource-based account of self-control. We suggest that apparent regulatory failures reflect the motivated switching of task priorities as people strive to strike an optimal balance between engaging cognitive labor to pursue “have-to” goals versus preferring cognitive leisure in the pursuit of “want-to” goals.
Article
An experiment examined the impact of mental fatigue on impression formation. Subjects experiencing fatigue as a result of participation in a lengthy final examination at a university manifested greater magnitude of primacy effects in impressions than did nonfatigued subjects. Those differences disappeared when subjects were held accountable for their impressions. The findings are discussed in reference to the possibility that fatigue renders information processing subjectively costly inducing the need for cognitive closure (Kruglanski, in press) promoting a “freezing” on impressions implied by early information about a social target. Similarly, need for closure is assumed to be lowered by accountability concerns. This analysis is discussed in light of the alternative possibility that the effects of fatigue on impressions stem from a depletion of cognitive capacity.
Article
The hedonic principle that people approach pleasure and avoid pain has been the basic motivational principle throughout the history of psychology. This principle underlies motivational models across all levels of analysis in psychology from the biological to social. However, it is noted that the hedonic principle is very basic and is limited as an explanatory variable. Almost any area of motivation can be discussed in terms of the hedonic principle. This chapter describes two different ways in which the hedonic principle operates—namely, one with a promotion focus and other with a prevention focus. These different ways of regulating pleasure and pain, called “regulatory focus,” have a major impact on people's feelings, thoughts, and actions that is independent of the hedonic principle per se. The chapter also presents some background information about another regulatory variable, called the “regulatory reference.” A self-regulatory system with a positive reference value essentially has a desired end state as the reference point.