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Self-Control in Context: A Mixed Methods Investigation of Self-Control and Self-Control Failure

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dc.contributor.advisor Newby-Clark, Ian Bergen, Anne 2011-11-25 2011-12-13T16:17:57Z 2011-12-13T16:17:57Z 2011-12-13
dc.description.abstract In this thesis, I take a mixed methods approach to exploring motivations and explanations for self-control and self-control failure. In Study 1, I used quantitative, experimental methods to test predictions derived from the strength model of self-control and self-determination theory related to voluntary risk, vitality, and self-control. In Study 2, I used thematic analysis of qualitative interviews to describe how people experience self-control and self-control failure. The strength model describes self-control as a limited resource that is depleted by acts requiring executive control. When people’s self-control is depleted, they are motivated to conserve and replenish self-control resources. One way of regaining self-control may be engaging in risky activities that provide a replenishing sense of vitality. Feelings of vitality are associated with perceptions of autonomy, and may serve as an experiential barometer of self-control strength. In Study 1, I manipulated self-control depletion and risk autonomy to test whether people engage in risky choices to provide a replenishing sense of vitality. My results suggest that vitality is not a reliable barometer of self-control strength. Perceptions of autonomy appear to be a predictor of short-term self-control strength, such that forced risk is a depleting experience. Further, perceptions of autonomy were an important facet of participants’ attributions of self-control success. However, thematic analysis further suggests that experiences of self-control cannot be removed from a context of motivation and emotion. More than just short-term fluctuations in ability to resist temptation, people’s personal theories of self-control provide a long-term narrative for explaining success and failures of goal-directed striving. More than just an intra-individual construct, the social context of self-control appears to have important influences on people’s attributions for self-control and self-control failure. By combining quantitative and qualitative methods, I add to the self-control literature by providing an account of the mechanisms and experiences of self-control and self-control failure. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.rights.uri *
dc.subject self-control en_US
dc.subject self-control failure en_US
dc.subject motivation en_US
dc.subject risk en_US
dc.subject autonomy en_US
dc.subject vitality en_US
dc.subject mixed-methods en_US
dc.title Self-Control in Context: A Mixed Methods Investigation of Self-Control and Self-Control Failure en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US Psychology en_US Doctor of Philosophy en_US Department of Psychology en_US

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