Self-control in action: implicit dispositions toward goals and away from temptations.
Five studies examined whether, in self-control dilemmas, individuals develop an implicit disposition to approach goals and avoid temptations, psychologically as well as physically. Using a method developed by A. K. Solarz (1960; see also K. L. Duckworth, J. A. Bargh, M. Garcia, & S. Chaiken, 2002), the authors assessed the time for pulling and pushing a lever in response to goal- and temptation-related stimuli (e.g., studying and partying). The results show that individuals offset the influence of tempting activities by automatically avoiding these stimuli (faster pushing responses) and by approaching stimuli related to an overarching goal (faster pulling responses). These implicit self-control dispositions varied as a function of the magnitude of the self-control conflict, itself defined by how strongly individuals were attracted to temptations and held the longer term goal. These dispositions were further shown to play a role in successful self-control.
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