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Decomposing Self-Control: Individual Differences in Goal Pursuit Despite Interfering Aversion, Temptation, and Distraction.

Steimke R, Stelzel C, Gaschler R, Rothkirch M, Ludwig VU, Paschke LM, Trempler I, Kathmann N, Goschke T, Walter H - Front Psychol (2016)

Bottom Line: We found that aversion, temptation, and neutral distraction were associated with significantly increased error rates, reaction times and gaze pattern deviations.Measures of aversion, temptation, and distraction showed moderate split-half reliability, but did not correlate with each other across participants.Our individual differences analyses suggest that (1) the ability to endure aversion, resist temptations and ignore neutral distractions are independent of each other and (2) these three domains are related to other measures of self-control.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité Universitätsmedizin BerlinBerlin, Germany; Department of Psychology, Technische Universität DresdenDresden, Germany; Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlin, Germany; Department of Psychology, Humboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlin, Germany.

ABSTRACT
Self-control can be defined as the ability to exert control over ones impulses. Currently, most research in the area relies on self-report. Focusing on attentional control processes involved in self-control, we modified a spatial selective attentional cueing task to test three domains of self-control experimentally in one task using aversive, tempting, and neutral picture-distractors. The aims of the study were (1) to investigate individual differences in the susceptibility to aversive, tempting, and neutral distraction within one paradigm and (2) to test the association of these three self-control domains to conventional measures of self-control including self-report. The final sample consisted of 116 participants. The task required participants to identify target letters "E" or "F" presented at a cued target location while the distractors were presented. Behavioral and eyetracking data were obtained during the performance of the task. High task performance was encouraged via monetary incentives. In addition to the attentional self-control task, self-reported self-control was assessed and participants performed a color Stroop task, an unsolvable anagram task and a delay of gratification task using chocolate sweets. We found that aversion, temptation, and neutral distraction were associated with significantly increased error rates, reaction times and gaze pattern deviations. Overall task performance on our task correlated with self-reported self-control ability. Measures of aversion, temptation, and distraction showed moderate split-half reliability, but did not correlate with each other across participants. Additionally, participants who made a self-controlled decision in the delay of gratification task were less distracted by temptations in our task than participants who made an impulsive choice. Our individual differences analyses suggest that (1) the ability to endure aversion, resist temptations and ignore neutral distractions are independent of each other and (2) these three domains are related to other measures of self-control.

No MeSH data available.


Display of the association between different willpower measures.(A) positive correlation between the total willpower task score and self-reported willpower, (B) the mean gaze distance temptation effect (distance from target letter in trials with erotic distractors minus distance in neutral trials) was significantly higher for participants who chose the small immediate reward than for those who chose to wait for the larger, but delayed reward (error bars represent 95% confidence intervals). (C) This association between choice in the delay of gratification task and distractibility by tempting pictures is displayed over the whole distractor period starting at distractor onset (error bars represent the standard error of the mean). Asterisks (∗) indicate a significant difference at p < 0.05.
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Figure 4: Display of the association between different willpower measures.(A) positive correlation between the total willpower task score and self-reported willpower, (B) the mean gaze distance temptation effect (distance from target letter in trials with erotic distractors minus distance in neutral trials) was significantly higher for participants who chose the small immediate reward than for those who chose to wait for the larger, but delayed reward (error bars represent 95% confidence intervals). (C) This association between choice in the delay of gratification task and distractibility by tempting pictures is displayed over the whole distractor period starting at distractor onset (error bars represent the standard error of the mean). Asterisks (∗) indicate a significant difference at p < 0.05.

Mentions: Only the total score of our task correlated significantly with self-report (r = 0.19; Figure 4A), in contrast to the conventional tasks which did not show any significant relation (Table 4). The correlation of our task with self-report remained significant even when controlling for gender, intelligence, mean hours of sleep on the day of testing, and age, r(114) = 0.23, p = 0.013. Correlation of the three task sub-scales (aversion, temptations, and neutral distraction) with the questionnaire score revealed a correlation of temptation with self-reported self-control and no correlation of neutral distraction and aversion with self-reported self-control. This might indicate that the positive correlation of the total score with self-report may be mainly driven by the temptation sub-score (see Table 3). The results of the correlation analysis of the anagram task and the Stroop task with self-report and t-testing of participants who delayed gratification (M = -0.12, SD = 1.07, n = 24), in contrast to those who did not (M = 0.09, SD = 1.08, n = 62) revealed no relation between conventional self-control task and self-reported self-control. These results indicate that our task might more closely assess what is measured by self-control questionnaires compared to conventional tasks.


Decomposing Self-Control: Individual Differences in Goal Pursuit Despite Interfering Aversion, Temptation, and Distraction.

Steimke R, Stelzel C, Gaschler R, Rothkirch M, Ludwig VU, Paschke LM, Trempler I, Kathmann N, Goschke T, Walter H - Front Psychol (2016)

Display of the association between different willpower measures.(A) positive correlation between the total willpower task score and self-reported willpower, (B) the mean gaze distance temptation effect (distance from target letter in trials with erotic distractors minus distance in neutral trials) was significantly higher for participants who chose the small immediate reward than for those who chose to wait for the larger, but delayed reward (error bars represent 95% confidence intervals). (C) This association between choice in the delay of gratification task and distractibility by tempting pictures is displayed over the whole distractor period starting at distractor onset (error bars represent the standard error of the mean). Asterisks (∗) indicate a significant difference at p < 0.05.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4834631&req=5

Figure 4: Display of the association between different willpower measures.(A) positive correlation between the total willpower task score and self-reported willpower, (B) the mean gaze distance temptation effect (distance from target letter in trials with erotic distractors minus distance in neutral trials) was significantly higher for participants who chose the small immediate reward than for those who chose to wait for the larger, but delayed reward (error bars represent 95% confidence intervals). (C) This association between choice in the delay of gratification task and distractibility by tempting pictures is displayed over the whole distractor period starting at distractor onset (error bars represent the standard error of the mean). Asterisks (∗) indicate a significant difference at p < 0.05.
Mentions: Only the total score of our task correlated significantly with self-report (r = 0.19; Figure 4A), in contrast to the conventional tasks which did not show any significant relation (Table 4). The correlation of our task with self-report remained significant even when controlling for gender, intelligence, mean hours of sleep on the day of testing, and age, r(114) = 0.23, p = 0.013. Correlation of the three task sub-scales (aversion, temptations, and neutral distraction) with the questionnaire score revealed a correlation of temptation with self-reported self-control and no correlation of neutral distraction and aversion with self-reported self-control. This might indicate that the positive correlation of the total score with self-report may be mainly driven by the temptation sub-score (see Table 3). The results of the correlation analysis of the anagram task and the Stroop task with self-report and t-testing of participants who delayed gratification (M = -0.12, SD = 1.07, n = 24), in contrast to those who did not (M = 0.09, SD = 1.08, n = 62) revealed no relation between conventional self-control task and self-reported self-control. These results indicate that our task might more closely assess what is measured by self-control questionnaires compared to conventional tasks.

Bottom Line: We found that aversion, temptation, and neutral distraction were associated with significantly increased error rates, reaction times and gaze pattern deviations.Measures of aversion, temptation, and distraction showed moderate split-half reliability, but did not correlate with each other across participants.Our individual differences analyses suggest that (1) the ability to endure aversion, resist temptations and ignore neutral distractions are independent of each other and (2) these three domains are related to other measures of self-control.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Charité Universitätsmedizin BerlinBerlin, Germany; Department of Psychology, Technische Universität DresdenDresden, Germany; Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlin, Germany; Department of Psychology, Humboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlin, Germany.

ABSTRACT
Self-control can be defined as the ability to exert control over ones impulses. Currently, most research in the area relies on self-report. Focusing on attentional control processes involved in self-control, we modified a spatial selective attentional cueing task to test three domains of self-control experimentally in one task using aversive, tempting, and neutral picture-distractors. The aims of the study were (1) to investigate individual differences in the susceptibility to aversive, tempting, and neutral distraction within one paradigm and (2) to test the association of these three self-control domains to conventional measures of self-control including self-report. The final sample consisted of 116 participants. The task required participants to identify target letters "E" or "F" presented at a cued target location while the distractors were presented. Behavioral and eyetracking data were obtained during the performance of the task. High task performance was encouraged via monetary incentives. In addition to the attentional self-control task, self-reported self-control was assessed and participants performed a color Stroop task, an unsolvable anagram task and a delay of gratification task using chocolate sweets. We found that aversion, temptation, and neutral distraction were associated with significantly increased error rates, reaction times and gaze pattern deviations. Overall task performance on our task correlated with self-reported self-control ability. Measures of aversion, temptation, and distraction showed moderate split-half reliability, but did not correlate with each other across participants. Additionally, participants who made a self-controlled decision in the delay of gratification task were less distracted by temptations in our task than participants who made an impulsive choice. Our individual differences analyses suggest that (1) the ability to endure aversion, resist temptations and ignore neutral distractions are independent of each other and (2) these three domains are related to other measures of self-control.

No MeSH data available.