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Beliefs about willpower moderate the effect of previous day demands on next day’s expectations and effective goal striving


Bernecker, Katharina; Job, Veronika (2015). Beliefs about willpower moderate the effect of previous day demands on next day’s expectations and effective goal striving. Frontiers in Psychology, 6(1496):online.

Abstract

Research suggests that beliefs about willpower affect self-regulation following previous self-regulatory demands (Job et al., 2010). Some people believe that their willpower is limited, meaning that after a demanding task it needs to be replenished (limited theory). By contrast, others believe that willpower is not limited and that previous self- control tasks even activate willpower (non-limited theory). We hypothesized that when people experience a demanding day their beliefs about willpower predict their expected capacity to self-regulate and their actual self-regulation on the following day. In a daily diary study (N = 157), we measured students’ daily level of demands, their expected performance in unpleasant tasks, and their effective goal striving. Results showed that following a demanding day, students with a non-limited theory had higher expectations about their progress in unpleasant tasks and were striving more efficiently for their goals than students with a limited theory. These findings suggest that beliefs about willpower affect whether demands experienced on a previous day have positive or negative consequences on people’s self-regulation.

Abstract

Research suggests that beliefs about willpower affect self-regulation following previous self-regulatory demands (Job et al., 2010). Some people believe that their willpower is limited, meaning that after a demanding task it needs to be replenished (limited theory). By contrast, others believe that willpower is not limited and that previous self- control tasks even activate willpower (non-limited theory). We hypothesized that when people experience a demanding day their beliefs about willpower predict their expected capacity to self-regulate and their actual self-regulation on the following day. In a daily diary study (N = 157), we measured students’ daily level of demands, their expected performance in unpleasant tasks, and their effective goal striving. Results showed that following a demanding day, students with a non-limited theory had higher expectations about their progress in unpleasant tasks and were striving more efficiently for their goals than students with a limited theory. These findings suggest that beliefs about willpower affect whether demands experienced on a previous day have positive or negative consequences on people’s self-regulation.

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Additional indexing

Contributors:Swiss National Science Foundation, Stiftung Suzanne und Hans Biäsch zur Förderung der Angewandten Psychologie
Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:implicit theories about willpower, goal striving, self-control, optimism, self-efficacy DoktoratPsych Erstautor DoktoratPsych Erstautor
Language:English
Date:14 October 2015
Deposited On:10 Nov 2015 14:11
Last Modified:24 Jun 2016 04:22
Publisher:Frontiers Research Foundation
ISSN:1664-1078
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01496

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