Though recent motivational accounts of self-control highlight the importance of experiences of effort and fatigue for continued goal pursuit in the moment, less research has investigated potential longer-term effects of these experiences. In three studies, we tested the hypothesis that experiencing self-control as effortful and exhausting would lead to a general belief that the capacity for self-control is limited (Job, Dweck, & Walton, 2010). When participants reflected on a high- versus a low-effort self-control experience (Study 1), engaged in a high- versus low-effort self-control task (Study 2) or experienced a two-week period of self-control practice as more versus less effortful (Study 3), they were more likely to endorse lay theories that self-control is limited. In turn, these limited lay theories led to impairments in self-control performance under high regulatory demand (Study 3). We discuss implications for understanding what limits self-control and the development of lay theories related to self-control.
- Lay theories
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science