- Self-control conflict in the eating domain
- A cognitive, affective, and behavioral perspective
- Award date
- 14 February 2017
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Sometimes we are tempted to do one thing (e.g., order the burger) but know we should do another (e.g., choose a healthier alternative). Such self-control conflicts, moments in which an impulse and a higher order goal are in conflict, are pervasive in everyday life. They are at the heart of the self-control process, given that without such a conflict self-control would be unnecessary. In my thesis I investigated how people experience and deal with conflict, and whether this knowledge helps to improve control over eating behavior.
In one line of research I investigated the interplay between cognitive control and motivational processes, and found that cognitive control is weakened when in direct competition with processing motivationally salient information. In the second line of research I studied how people feel about making conflicted self-control choices (i.e., giving in vs. resisting temptation). Interestingly, the more conflict people experienced during decision making the more negative they felt about their choices – even if they had made the ‘healthy’ choice. Only if people were reminded that their healthy choice was a successful act of self-control did conflict strength predict increased feelings of pride. Finally, I tested whether reducing impulse strength by means of the approach avoidance training could increase control over eating behavior. Three lab studies produced null results, suggesting that more research is needed before the approach avoidance training can be used in the applied setting.
Together, those findings help understand why self-control often fails, and generate several interesting ideas for how to improve self-control.
- Kurt Lewin Institute dissertation series ; 2016-20
Thesis (complete) (Embargo up to and including 14 February 2019)
Chapter 2: Adaptation in conflict: Are conflict-triggered control adjustments protected in the presence of motivational distractors? (Embargo up to and including 14 February 2019)
Chapter 3: Spoiling the pleasure of success: Emotional reactions to the experience of self-control conflict (Embargo up to and including 14 February 2019)
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