Self-control has been shown to be an important influence behind a variety of risk and protective behaviors, such as substance abuse. Although prior research points to the existence of multiple dimensions of self-control, this concept is not consistently defined and frequently only studied as a conglomerate in clinical research. The current study sought to examine how two experimental manipulations of subcomponents of self-control (motivation and self-efficacy) affect real-world consumptive behavior after accounting for executive function. Additionally, the validity and reliability of a brief state survey measure of perceived self-control capacity, internal motivation, and external motivation was tested. The goal was to examine how basic scientific principles involved in self-control translate into clinically relevant behaviors, which may inform understanding of momentary lapses in self-control behavior, potentially leading to novel prevention and intervention efforts. 94 college students completed a 1-2 hour laboratory protocol during which they completed survey and laboratory-based tasks of self-control and related behaviors, executive function, and ad libitum alcohol consumption. Results showed that the self-efficacy manipulation successfully increased perceived self-control capacity, although this did not lead to a significant reduction in consumption. The motivation manipulation neither increased motivation nor reduced consumption in this sample. However, the brief state survey measure of self-control subcomponents demonstrated strong test-retest reliability and distinction from trait self-control, demonstrating its viability for use in future research. By elucidating the relationships between specific mechanisms of self-control, laboratory-based tasks and manipulations, and real-world consumptive behaviors, prevention and intervention efforts for problems such as alcohol abuse may be tailored to the needs of the individual and made more impactful and cost-effective.
- Experimental Manipulation of Motivation and Self-Efficacy for Self-Control
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