Riding other people's coattails: individuals with low self-control value self-control in other people.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Two laboratory experiments and one dyadic study of ongoing relationships of romantic partners examined how temporary and chronic deficits in self-control affect individuals' evaluations of other people. We suggest that when individuals lack self-control resources, they value such resources in other people. Our results support this hypothesis: We found that individuals low (but not high) in self-control use information about other people's self-control abilities when judging them, evaluating other people with high self-control more positively than those with low self-control. In Study 1, participants whose self-control was depleted preferred people with higher self-control, whereas nondepleted participants did not show this preference. In Study 2, we conceptually replicated this effect while using a behavioral measure of trait self-control. In Study 3, individuals with low (but not high) self-control reported greater dependence on dating partners with high self-control than on those with low self-control. We theorize that individuals with low self-control may use interpersonal relationships to compensate for their lack of personal self-control resources.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Shea, CT; Davisson, EK; Fitzsimons, GM

Published Date

  • June 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 24 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 1031 - 1036

PubMed ID

  • 23558551

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC4248306

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1467-9280

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0956-7976

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0956797612464890


  • eng