Term of Award

Summer 2013

Degree Name

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

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Department

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Amy A. Hackney

Committee Member 1

Karen Z. Naufel

Committee Member 2

Janie Wilson

Abstract

This study explored how boredom might influence self-control when participants believed that willpower is unlimited or limited. After completing one of two questionnaires, which induced the belief that willpower is either unlimited or limited, participants then completed one of three tasks. The tasks consisted of a non-ego depleting self-control task, an ego-depleting self-control task, and a task shown to induce boredom, with the nondepleting and depleting conditions having been replicated from research by Job, Dweck, and Walton (2010). In the non-depleting condition, participants completed a task that involved crossing out all occasions of the letter “e” found on two pages of text (Baumeister,Bratslavsky, Muraven, & Tice, 1998). Then, participants had their self-control measured by the Cognitive Estimation Test (CET; Bullard et al., 2004). Lastly, they completed the Boredom Proneness Scale (Farmer & Sundberg, 1986) to possibly establish a link between individuals’ disposition towards boredom and their ability to engage in self-control. It was hypothesized boredom would compromise the ability to successfully engage in self-control more so than a previous act of self-control. The results did not support our hypotheses. There was no main effect of willpower condition, main effect of task type condition, or interaction effect between the two. Nevertheless, an interaction between task type and gender was discovered, with females scoring worse after the depleting task than after the boredom task. However, this result for females should be viewed with caution, given that this flexibility in data analysis has been shown to generate a false-positive rate as high as 12.6% in past research (Simmons, Nelson, & Simonsohn, 2011). These results encourage a holistic view of self-control in that self-control is likely influenced simultaneously by both individuals’ motivations as well as a limited resource.

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