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Know your weaknesses: Sophisticated impulsiveness motivates voluntary self-restrictions


Soutschek, Alexander; Tobler, Philippe N (2020). Know your weaknesses: Sophisticated impulsiveness motivates voluntary self-restrictions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 46(9):1611-1623.

Abstract

Restricting one's access to temptations (precommitment) facilitates the achievement of long-term goals. The sophisticated impulsiveness model of precommitment posits that impulsive agents who are aware that they are impulsive should show the strongest preference for precommitment. Empirically however, two central predictions of this theoretical notion remained untested: whether impulsiveness causally drives the demand for precommitment and whether the willingness to precommit depends on metacognitive awareness of one's impulsiveness. Here, we tested these predictions in three independent experiments. Participants performed a delay discounting task in which they could precommit to larger-later rewards. The results of Experiment 1 provide causal evidence that reducing impulse control capacities increases precommitment demand. Moreover, Experiments 2 and 3 support the hypothesis that metacognitive awareness of one's impulsiveness moderates the relationship between impulsiveness and precommitment. Together, our data put the sophisticated impulsiveness model of precommitment on strong empirical foundations.

Abstract

Restricting one's access to temptations (precommitment) facilitates the achievement of long-term goals. The sophisticated impulsiveness model of precommitment posits that impulsive agents who are aware that they are impulsive should show the strongest preference for precommitment. Empirically however, two central predictions of this theoretical notion remained untested: whether impulsiveness causally drives the demand for precommitment and whether the willingness to precommit depends on metacognitive awareness of one's impulsiveness. Here, we tested these predictions in three independent experiments. Participants performed a delay discounting task in which they could precommit to larger-later rewards. The results of Experiment 1 provide causal evidence that reducing impulse control capacities increases precommitment demand. Moreover, Experiments 2 and 3 support the hypothesis that metacognitive awareness of one's impulsiveness moderates the relationship between impulsiveness and precommitment. Together, our data put the sophisticated impulsiveness model of precommitment on strong empirical foundations.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Language and Linguistics
Social Sciences & Humanities > Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Linguistics and Language
Uncontrolled Keywords:Linguistics and Language, Experimental and Cognitive Psychology, Language and Linguistics
Language:English
Date:1 September 2020
Deposited On:08 Jul 2020 14:45
Last Modified:04 Sep 2020 01:06
Publisher:American Psychological Association
ISSN:0278-7393
Additional Information:This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1037/xlm0000833
PubMed ID:32134317
Project Information:
  • : FunderFP7
  • : Grant ID219811
  • : Project TitleGENS - Genomic Approach to Study the Role of Bacterioplankton in the Sulfur Cycle
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID100014_165884
  • : Project TitleThe role of dopamine in value-based decision making

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