Date of Graduation

5-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Psychological Science

Advisor

Jennifer Veilleux

Committee Member

Lindsay Ham-Holm

Second Committee Member

Scott Eidleman

Keywords

Long-term Goal, Self-regulation, Self-talk, Temptation

Abstract

Exercising self-control can be a challenge, whether it involves avoiding temptations or striving toward long-term goals. When attempting to exert self-control, the way people address themselves (e.g., self-talk) is important. This study examined how self-talk strategies want and need affected behavioral self-control outcomes in a temptation situation using a 2 (self-talk strategy: want vs need) x 2 (goal emphasis: temptation vs long term goal) factorial design. Participants’ own cell phones served as the temptation and a computer task designed to portray a career-relevant emotional intelligence training served as the long-term goal. Participants were randomly assigned toward either the long-term goal or the temptation, and primed with either want or need self-talk, via a handwriting task. Participants then had the opportunity to spend 20 minutes however they chose (emotional intelligence training, cell phone use, doing nothing, any combination of activities); this segment of the experimental session was video recorded to determine the amount of time participants dedicated to each task. Results revealed that neither goal emphasis nor self-talk strategy significantly affected the amount of time participants spent engaged in the long-term goal task or the temptation task. Additionally, there was no interaction between goal emphasis and self-talk strategy. Interestingly, for participants in the need self-talk condition, those oriented toward the temptation thought they spent substantially more time engaged in the long-term goal task than participants who were actually oriented toward the long-term goal. Finally, self-control predicted less desire to engage in the temptation for participants who wanted /needed the temptation, and participants who wanted the long-term goal; but for participants who needed the long-term goal, self-control predicted greater desire for the temptation.

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