Self-Control Success Through Motivated Use of Abstraction

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Title: Self-Control Success Through Motivated Use of Abstraction
Creators: Kwitowski, Melissa A.
Advisor: Fujita, Kentaro
Issue Date: 2011-06
Abstract: Obesity is a national epidemic associated with a multitude of chronic medical conditions and the number of overweight individuals continues to rise. Dieting is a common strategy used in weight loss and frequently involves self-control conflicts, which occur when pressures in the local environment threaten to undermine an individual’s larger concerns. Dieters regularly encounter salient food temptations, which threaten to undermine their global dieting goals. Self-control success occurs when an individual can overlook immediate temptations, in deference to their over-riding goals. Research suggests that construing events at higher levels of abstraction helps people better exert self-control. This study is intended to test whether dieters who spontaneously adopt high-level construals of a conflict situation are more likely to be successful. In this study, individuals were told they would be participating in a cookie taste-test. Participants’ construal levels were then assessed using action identification items in which they chose between abstract and concrete descriptions of the taste test. Results provide some potential evidence that dieters who construed upcoming conflict situations abstractly were more likely to be successful. These findings may shed light on the growing obesity issue by highlighting the thought processes that may promote dieting success. This indicates that high-level construals, measured in the face of self-control conflicts, might eventually be used to detect successful dieters. It is also possible that construal-level training might be a useful intervention for unsuccessful dieters.
Embargo: No embargo
Series/Report no.: The Ohio State University. Department of Psychology Honors Theses; 2011
Keywords: Construal
Sponsors: Social and Behavioral Sciences Undergraduate Research Grant
Arts and Sciences Honors College Research Scholarship
Description: 2011 College of Arts and Sciences Certificate for Excellence in Scholarship
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