It was(n't) me: Exercising restraint when choices appear self-diagnostic

Maferima Touré-Tillery*, Ayelet Fishbach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

This research tests the hypothesis that individuals exercise restraint for actions that reflect on their self-concept (i.e., self-diagnostic actions). Experiments 1 and 2 show an action framed as occurring at the beginning or end (vs. middle) of a constructed sequence is seen as more self-diagnostic. Accordingly, Experiment 3 finds more restraint in snack choices at the framed beginning or end (vs. middle). Furthermore, the degree of importance of a goal-which reflects its centrality to the self-concept- determines responses to self-diagnosticity cues such as framed positions. Specifically, participants committed to financial goals (Experiment 4) and health goals (Experiment 5) were more likely to make decisions consistent with these goals at the beginning or end, but indulged and splurged in the middle. Experiment 6 shows similar patterns for judgments of magazine subscriptions, but only when individuals are faced with a decision that poses a self-control conflict for them. These results highlight the role of the self in self-control by demonstrating that people exercise restraint when decision contexts seem more telling of the self.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1117-1131
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume109
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

Keywords

  • Goal pursuit
  • Self-concept
  • Self-control
  • Self-diagnosticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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