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Age differences in implicit theories about willpower: shy older people endorse a nonlimited theory


Job, Veronika; Sieber, Vanda; Rothermund, Klaus; Nikitin, Jana (2018). Age differences in implicit theories about willpower: shy older people endorse a nonlimited theory. Psychology and Aging, 33(6):940-952.

Abstract

What people believe about their capacity to exert self-control (willpower), whether it is a limited or a nonlimited resource, affects their self-regulation and well-being. The present research investigated age-related differences in people's beliefs-called implicit theories-about willpower. Study 1 (n = 802, age range 18-83 years) showed that with higher age people are more likely to believe that willpower is a nonlimited resource. Study 2 (n = 423) with younger (age 18-35 years) and older adults (age 60-98 years) replicated this finding and showed that age and a nonlimited willpower theory are related to perceived autonomy on demanding tasks (i.e., sense of self-determination), which might explain the age-related differences in willpower theories. Finally, experimental Studies 3a (n = 302) and 3b (n = 497) manipulated an autonomous mindset in younger (age 18-35 years) and older adults (age 60-87 years) and provided evidence for a causal effect of perceived autonomy on self-control-beliefs, supporting the proposed developmental mechanism.

Abstract

What people believe about their capacity to exert self-control (willpower), whether it is a limited or a nonlimited resource, affects their self-regulation and well-being. The present research investigated age-related differences in people's beliefs-called implicit theories-about willpower. Study 1 (n = 802, age range 18-83 years) showed that with higher age people are more likely to believe that willpower is a nonlimited resource. Study 2 (n = 423) with younger (age 18-35 years) and older adults (age 60-98 years) replicated this finding and showed that age and a nonlimited willpower theory are related to perceived autonomy on demanding tasks (i.e., sense of self-determination), which might explain the age-related differences in willpower theories. Finally, experimental Studies 3a (n = 302) and 3b (n = 497) manipulated an autonomous mindset in younger (age 18-35 years) and older adults (age 60-87 years) and provided evidence for a causal effect of perceived autonomy on self-control-beliefs, supporting the proposed developmental mechanism.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Education
Dewey Decimal Classification:370 Education
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Social Psychology
Life Sciences > Aging
Health Sciences > Geriatrics and Gerontology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Ageing, Geriatrics and Gerontology, Social Psychology
Language:English
Date:1 September 2018
Deposited On:11 Feb 2019 10:37
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 10:10
Publisher:American Psychological Association
ISSN:0882-7974
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1037/pag0000285
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID100019_159399
  • : Project TitleWhy is social avoidance motivation detrimental to young but not older adults?
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID100014_159395
  • : Project TitleEffects of Implicit Theories About Willpower on Self-Regulation, Goal Striving, and Well-Being: A Life-Span Perspective

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