Term of Award

Fall 2011

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 of Psychology

Committee Chair

Michael E. Nielsen

Committee Member 1

William D. McIntosh

Committee Member 2

Janice N. Steirn


Self-control is the capacity to alter one's intended or instinctual behavior in order to align with societal and cultural standards. It has been suggested that the ability to exert self-control has developed evolutionarily in order to increase the odds of one and one's family's survival through participating in a society. A prediction resulting from this is that horizontal collectivism, in which individuals consider themselves as equals acting toward a shared goal, should predict self control, because a focus on one's ties to others will requires a greater development for restraining one's self. Conversely, vertical individualism, in which individuals are considered autonomous, independent agents, was predicted to show a negative relationship with self-control because of that orientation's decreased commitment to align with cultural standards. To examine these predictions, participants completed a series of questionnaires to identify their cultural dispositions. Ultimately, no relationship was found suggesting that horizontal or vertical collectivists had more self-control than horizontal or vertical individualists. Follow-up analyses using selected scale items, however, indicated a trend in the predicted direction, which suggests that future research using more robust and sensitive measures may support the predictions. Additionally, religious measures of collectivism and individualism (extrinsic and intrinsic religiosity respectively) were examined for predictive ability for self-control. Both constructs did predict self-control, but religious commitment showed to be a far more powerful predictor.

Research Data and Supplementary Material