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Implicit theories about willpower predict self-regulation and grades in everyday life.

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Job Veronika, Walton Gregory M., Bernecker Katharina, Dweck Carol S.,
Project Implicit Theories about Willpower: Mechanisms, Replication, and Application
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Title of proceedings Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Abstract

Laboratory research shows that when people believe that willpower is an abundant (rather than highly limited) resource they exhibit better self-control after demanding tasks. However, some have questioned whether this “nonlimited” theory leads to squandering of resources and worse outcomes in everyday life when demands on self-regulation are high. To examine this, we conducted a longitudinal study, assessing students’ theories about willpower and tracking their self-regulation and academic performance. As hypothesized, a nonlimited theory predicted better self-regulation (better time management and less procrastination, unhealthy eating, and impulsive spending) for students who faced high self-regulatory demands. Moreover, among students taking a heavy course load, those with a nonlimited theory earned higher grades, which was mediated by less procrastination. These findings contradict the idea that a limited theory helps people allocate their resources more effectively; instead, it is people with the nonlimited theory who self-regulate well in the face of high demands.
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