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More than resisting temptation: Beneficial habits mediate the relationship between self-control and positive life outcomes.
J Pers Soc Psychol 2015; 109(3):508-25JP

Abstract

Why does self-control predict such a wide array of positive life outcomes? Conventional wisdom holds that self-control is used to effortfully inhibit maladaptive impulses, yet this view conflicts with emerging evidence that self-control is associated with less inhibition in daily life. We propose that one of the reasons individuals with better self-control use less effortful inhibition, yet make better progress on their goals is that they rely on beneficial habits. Across 6 studies (total N = 2,274), we found support for this hypothesis. In Study 1, habits for eating healthy snacks, exercising, and getting consistent sleep mediated the effect of self-control on both increased automaticity and lower reported effortful inhibition in enacting those behaviors. In Studies 2 and 3, study habits mediated the effect of self-control on reduced motivational interference during a work-leisure conflict and on greater ability to study even under difficult circumstances. In Study 4, homework habits mediated the effect of self-control on classroom engagement and homework completion. Study 5 was a prospective longitudinal study of teenage youth who participated in a 5-day meditation retreat. Better self-control before the retreat predicted stronger meditation habits 3 months after the retreat, and habits mediated the effect of self-control on successfully accomplishing meditation practice goals. Finally, in Study 6, study habits mediated the effect of self-control on homework completion and 2 objectively measured long-term academic outcomes: grade point average and first-year college persistence. Collectively, these results suggest that beneficial habits-perhaps more so than effortful inhibition-are an important factor linking self-control with positive life outcomes.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Department of Psychology.Department of Psychology.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Language

eng

PubMed ID

25643222

Citation

Galla, Brian M., and Angela L. Duckworth. "More Than Resisting Temptation: Beneficial Habits Mediate the Relationship Between Self-control and Positive Life Outcomes." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 109, no. 3, 2015, pp. 508-25.
Galla BM, Duckworth AL. More than resisting temptation: Beneficial habits mediate the relationship between self-control and positive life outcomes. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2015;109(3):508-25.
Galla, B. M., & Duckworth, A. L. (2015). More than resisting temptation: Beneficial habits mediate the relationship between self-control and positive life outcomes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109(3), pp. 508-25. doi:10.1037/pspp0000026.
Galla BM, Duckworth AL. More Than Resisting Temptation: Beneficial Habits Mediate the Relationship Between Self-control and Positive Life Outcomes. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2015;109(3):508-25. PubMed PMID: 25643222.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - More than resisting temptation: Beneficial habits mediate the relationship between self-control and positive life outcomes. AU - Galla,Brian M, AU - Duckworth,Angela L, Y1 - 2015/02/02/ PY - 2015/2/3/entrez PY - 2015/2/3/pubmed PY - 2016/6/18/medline SP - 508 EP - 25 JF - Journal of personality and social psychology JO - J Pers Soc Psychol VL - 109 IS - 3 N2 - Why does self-control predict such a wide array of positive life outcomes? Conventional wisdom holds that self-control is used to effortfully inhibit maladaptive impulses, yet this view conflicts with emerging evidence that self-control is associated with less inhibition in daily life. We propose that one of the reasons individuals with better self-control use less effortful inhibition, yet make better progress on their goals is that they rely on beneficial habits. Across 6 studies (total N = 2,274), we found support for this hypothesis. In Study 1, habits for eating healthy snacks, exercising, and getting consistent sleep mediated the effect of self-control on both increased automaticity and lower reported effortful inhibition in enacting those behaviors. In Studies 2 and 3, study habits mediated the effect of self-control on reduced motivational interference during a work-leisure conflict and on greater ability to study even under difficult circumstances. In Study 4, homework habits mediated the effect of self-control on classroom engagement and homework completion. Study 5 was a prospective longitudinal study of teenage youth who participated in a 5-day meditation retreat. Better self-control before the retreat predicted stronger meditation habits 3 months after the retreat, and habits mediated the effect of self-control on successfully accomplishing meditation practice goals. Finally, in Study 6, study habits mediated the effect of self-control on homework completion and 2 objectively measured long-term academic outcomes: grade point average and first-year college persistence. Collectively, these results suggest that beneficial habits-perhaps more so than effortful inhibition-are an important factor linking self-control with positive life outcomes. SN - 1939-1315 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/25643222/More_Than_Resisting_Temptation:_Beneficial_Habits_Mediate_the_Relationship_Between_Self_Control_and_Positive_Life_Outcomes_ L2 - http://content.apa.org/journals/psp/109/3/508 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -