Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Akira Miyake

Second Advisor

Dr. Eliana Colunga

Third Advisor

Dr. Charles Danforth

Abstract

This study examined the effect self-affirmation has on a self-control task in a novel way. A dependent measure of self-control was created that tempts participants with an opportunity to cheat. Participants were given a generous incentive to do well on the dice game task, but in order to ‘win’ they had to cheat (i.e. fail to exhibit self-control). It was hypothesized that participants would be less likely to cheat in the affirmation condition because self-affirmation will have induced a higher mental construal and therefore improved self-control. An individual differences measure was included to examine a possible moderation effect based on individual’s natural self-control levels. It was hypothesized that those with natural high self-control will be less affected by the affirmation. Results indicated that even though more non-affirmed participants did cheat than self-affirmed participants, self-affirmation did not significantly improve self-control. Secondly, participants in the two groups did not significantly differ in mental construal. Furthermore, results presented an individual difference in inhibitory self-control levels, but this was not a successful moderating variable of self-control behavior. These results provided new evidence for self-affirmation effects on self-control, but mainly suggests that further research should be conducted that includes a distinct measure of self-control (e.g. a cheating opportunity) and encompasses an individual differences covariate to account for a possible moderation effect of natural self-control levels.

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