Term of Award

Summer 2021

Degree Name

Master of Science in Experimental Psychology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Department

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Jeffrey Klibert

Committee Member 1

Janie Wilson

Committee Member 2

Amy Hackney

Abstract

Self-control is essential in day-to-day life and has important implications for goal attainment, successful living, and psychological well-being. However, self-control is known to fail when resources are depleted physically, cognitively, or emotionally, which can lead to difficulties completing important tasks. Performance monitoring, which makes a standard salient so that people can sustain their performance while attending to their goals, might buffer the loss of self-control on task performance. Overall, the purpose of this study was to experimentally examine the effects of self-control depletion and performance monitoring on task persistence. Eighty undergraduate students were recruited to participate in the study. Participants were randomly assigned first to a self-control depletion condition and then to a performance monitoring condition using an online format. Group differences on task persistence were determined by how long it took participants to quit a series of anagram problems. A 2 (Self-Control Depletion) x 3 (Performance Monitoring) Factorial ANCOVA, with trait conscientiousness scores as a covariate, was analyzed on task persistence scores. Results revealed non-significant main effects for trait conscientiousness, self-control depletion condition, and performance monitoring condition. Similarly, there was a non-significant interaction effect. These results suggest that self-control depletion, performance monitoring, and trait conscientiousness largely do not affect persistence on anagram task scores. However, there were significant methodological and environmental limitations associated with the study that minimized the likelihood of detecting significant findings. The implications of the study are discussed, and future recommendations are offered.

Research Data and Supplementary Material

No

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