Emerging Perspectives on Self-Control

Session Chair: Ran Kivetz, Columbia University
Discussion Leader: Klaus Wertenbroch, INSEAD

Session Title: Emerging Perspectives on Self-Control


Short Abstracts:

Construal Levels and Self-Control

Kentaro Fujita and Yaacov Trope (New York University)


We propose that self-control involves making decisions and acting in accordance with high level, rather than low level, construals of a situation.  Activation of high level construals (which capture primary, central, global features of an event) should lead to greater self-control than activation of low level construals (which capture secondary, incidental, local features).  Across three experiments, priming high levels of construal led to decreased preferences for immediate over delayed outcomes, greater physical endurance, and less positive evaluations of temptations that undermine self-control goals.  These results suggest that construals of a situation impact self-control decisions and actions.


Determinants of Justification and Self-Control

Ran Kivetz and Yuhuang Zheng (Columbia University)


Consumers employ two justification routes to relax their self-control.  One (entitlement) route involves working hard or excelling and a second entails indulging without depleting income.  A series of experiments with actual effort tasks and real choices demonstrate that (a) higher effort or (bogus) excellence enhances choices of temptation over prudence, but these effects are reversed when the interchangeability of effort and income is implied; (b) willingness-to-pay in effort is greater for indulgences than necessities, but willingness-to-pay in effort framed as income is higher for necessities; and (c) sensitivity to the type and magnitude of the perceived resource is greater for individuals with stronger (chronic or manipulated) indulgence guilt.  We discuss how these justification routes could explain prior findings.



When Feeling Bad Leads to Doing Good: The Strategic Use of Self-Control for Mood-Regulation

Yael Zemack-Rugar, James R. Bettman, and Gavan J. Fitzsimons (Duke University)


We propose a strategic view of self-control, whereby self-control levels are increased or decreased in the service of mood-regulation goals. As a result, contrary to prior findings that negative moods lead self-control failures (Baumeister, 1997; Herman & Polivy, 1975, Tice et al., 2001), we find negative moods can sometimes lead self-control increases. In particular, self-control levels depend on consumers’ cognitions regarding which self-control levels will enhance mood. These cognitions vary based on the type of negative mood (e.g., guilt vs. sadness) examined and individual differences in coping styles. Additionally, we discuss findings suggesting these strategies become automatic over time, and can affect individuals’ behaviors outside of conscious awareness.
[ to cite ]:
Session Chair: Ran Kivetz and Discussion Leader: Klaus Wertenbroch (2006) ,"Emerging Perspectives on Self-Control", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 33, eds. Connie Pechmann and Linda Price, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 594-599.