The Putt and the Pendulum: Ironic Effects of the Mental Control of ActionDaniel M. Wegner, Matthew Ansfield, and Daniel PilloffPsychological Science (1998), 9(3), 196-199. People sometimes find themselves making movement errors that represent the ironic opposite of what they intended to do. These studies examined this tendency in the case of putting a golf ball and swinging a handheld pendulum, and found that ironic errors were particularly likely when participants who were instructed to avoid them tried to do so under mental load or physical load. The idea that such errors may be prompted by a monitoring process that increases sensitivity to the most undesirable outcome of an intention was supported by the finding of a tendency for ironic errors to be more evident when participants were allowed to monitor their action visually than when they could not.
The Pendulum Theory • 2 (load vs. no load) x 2 (explicitly told to not move along x axis or just told to stay still) x 2 (cognitive load or physical load) x 2 (direction of movement: along x or y axis) • Participants under load moved along the x-axis more when they were instructed not to and were under load. • Intentional operating process: searches for mental contents that will yield the desired state; conscious; requires mental effort • Ironic monitoring process: searches for mental contents that signal failure; unconscious; requires less mental effort • Under load, the operating process is limited so the monitoring process takes over and the person nonconsciously searches for signals of failure, which then produces failure The Putt • 2 (cognitive load vs. no cognitive load) x 2 (visual monitoring present or absent) design • All participants told to not “overshoot” the putt. • Participants under cognitive load overshot the putt more than those not under cognitive load. This effect was marginally more pronounced when participants could visually monitor.
Motivation, personal beliefs, and limited resources all contribute to self-control Kathleen D. Vohs, Roy F. Baumeister, and Brandon J. Schmeichel What effects do motivation and beliefs have on self-control? We tested this question using a limited resource paradigm, which generally has found that people show poor self-control after prior exertions of self-control. Recent findings have suggested that motivation and even belief in unlimited willpower can render persons immune to ego depletion. We replicated those findings, but also showed they are limited to cases of mild depletion. When depletion is extensive, the effects of motivation and subjective belief vanished and in one case reversed. After performing only one self-control task, the typical pattern of self-regulation impairment was ameliorated among people who were encouraged to regard willpower as unlimited (Experiment 1) or motivated by task importance (Experiment 2). Those manipulations failed to improve performance among severely depleted persons who had done multiple self-control tasks. These findings integrate ideas of limited resources, motivation, and beliefs in understanding the nature of self-control over time.
Experiment 1: Vohs, K. D., Baumeister, R. F., & Schmeichel, B. J. (2012). Motivation, personal beliefs, and limited resources all contribute to self-control. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 943-947. Hypothesis: If participants are led to believe that willpower is unlimited, they will not show signs of depletion after completing two tasks, but they will after completing four tasks. Effect of willpower theory and self-control task conditions on preferences for delayed rewards. Effect of willpower theory and self-control task conditions on CET scores. Experiment 2: Hypothesis: If participants highly motivated, they will not show signs of depletion after completing one task, but they will after completing three tasks. Effect of motivation and self-control task conditions on preferences for delayed rewards. Effect of motivation and self-control task conditions on CET scores.
Why Do Interracial Interactions Impair Executive Function? A Resource Depletion AccountJennifer A. Richeson & Sophie Trawalter Three studies investigated the veracity of a resource depletion account of the impairment of inhibitory task performance after interracial contact. White individuals engaged in either an interracial or same-race interaction, then completed an ostensibly unrelated Stroop color-naming test. In each study, the self-regulatory demands of the interaction were either increased (Study 1) or decreased (Studies 2 and 3). Results revealed that increasing the self-regulatory demands of an interracial interaction led to greater Stroopinterference compared with control, whereas reducing self-regulatory demands led to less Stroop interference. Manipulating self-regulatory demands did not affect Stroopperformance after same-race interactions. Taken together, the present studies point to resource depletion as the likely mechanism underlying the impairment of cognitive functioning after interracial dyadic interactions.
All: -Racial IAT -Manipulation (self-regulatory demands) -Interaction (White vs. Black confederate) -Stroop task Study 1 -False feedback: prejudice vs. performance -heightened prejudice concerns, more self-regulation demands • Study 2 • -Script vs. no script for discussion about racial profiling -script reduces uncertainty and prejudice concerns (less self- reg demands) Study 3 -Anxiety felt during interracial interactions demands more self-regulation (suppress emotions) -Opportunity to (mis)attributeanxiety elsewhere, less self-regulation demands
Study 1: Irreversible choice Chocolate bar as temptation Study 2: Reversible choice Leisure activities as temptation • Conclusions • The value of a goal-related stimulus increases as it becomes more available. • The value of a temptation decreases as it becomes more available, especially when the choice is reversible
Counteracting Obstacles With Optimistic Predictions Myles Leighton Counteractive Optimism (CO model): self-control strategy involving “psyching” one’s self to goal attainment by predicting success of veering away from anticipated obstacles. By anticipating obstacles, self-control operations enhance motivation attain goal. Looks like “self-fulfilling prophesy” that’s focused on obstacles, just less magical. Both step out of the bounds of self-regulation. 5 Studies in support of the CO model, but emphasizing accuracy of predictions actually reverses the effect. Hints of optimism bias, but here it helps with obstacles. This research is good for defining tools that people can actively use, if they recall it. It doesn’t seem realistic that people will stop to choose a self-control tool while evaluating the value and feasibility of attaining a given goal. Setting up a series of small and more easily attainable goals that will eventually complete a large goal seems to be a more likely action, but it depends on how you are yourself in terms of subjective effectiveness (Bandura, 1997). There are certain costs associated with asking for accurate predictions.
Ackerman, J. A., Goldstein, N. J., Shapiro, J. R., & Bargh, J. A. (2011). The vicarious depletionof self-control. Psychological Science, 20, 326-332. Abstract Acts of self-control may deplete an individual's self-regulatory resources. But what are the consequences of perceiving other people's use of self-control? Mentally simulating the actions of others has been found to elicit psychological effects consistent with the actual performance of those actions. Here, we consider how simulating versus merely perceiving the use of willpower can affect self-control abilities. In Study 1, participants who simulated the perspective of a person exercising self-control exhibited less restraint over spending on consumer products than did other participants. In Study 2, participants who took the perspective of a person using self-control exerted less willpower on an unrelated lexical generation task than did participants who took the perspective of a person who did not use self-control. Conversely, participants who merely read about another person's self-control exerted more willpower than did those who read about actions not requiring self-control. These findings suggest that the actions of other people may either deplete or boost one's own self-control, depending on whether one mentally simulates those actions or merely perceives them.
Hypothesis: Taking the perspective of someone exerting self-control will deplete one’s own self-regulatory abilities Ackerman, J. A., Goldstein, N. J., Shapiro, J. R., & Bargh, J. A. (2011). The vicarious depletionof self-control. Psychological Science, 20, 326-332. Study 1: Perspective-taking less restraint in spending estimates Study 2: Perspective-taking decreased performance on a lexical generation task and lower reported self control