Title

The importance of framing : maintaining self-control through motivation.

Date of Award

5-1-2014

Document Type

Thesis

School

College of Liberal Arts

Degree Name

Bachelor in Arts

Abstract

Self-control is defined as overriding behaviors, emotions, and desires that interfere with an individuals current goals (Muraven, Shmueli & Burkley, 2006). There is a large body of literature that demonstrates that self-control resources are reduced after completing one or more self-control demanding acts (a phenomenon known as ego depletion; Beedie & Lane, 2011). Although most studies have attributed the observed ego depletion effects to the claim that self-control is a limited resource (Muraven, Tice & Baumeister, 1998), recent research raises questions about the nature of self-control (Beedie & Lane, 2011; Job, Dweck & Walton, 2010). Instead, there is reason to believe that the observed depletion effects might really be a reflection of a shift in motivation, as described by the Process Model of Self-Control (Inzlicht & Schmeichel, 2012). This study explores whether motivation introduced before the first depleting task will also prevent a reduction in performance on a second task, possibly by reducing self-licensing effects, using a two-by-two between-participants design. After a motivation manipulation in which participants were told that the first task is very important for understanding the cognitive processes behind Alzheimer's disease, they completed a Stroop test and an anagram task, both requiring self-control. A significant main-effect of motivation indicated that participants that were motivated on the first task persisted longer on the second task. The Stroop main effect and the motivation-Stroop interaction were not significant. In support of the process model, the results indicate that the framing of a task as important predicts the ability of individuals to continue exhibiting self-control without ego-depletion effects. The impact of framing was not limited to self-control performance on the first task but also impacted persistence on the second, unrelated task. Findings from this study shed light onto the nature of self-control and the role of motivation.