What makes people with high trait self-control successful? The role of beliefs about the utility of emotions and emotion regulation in self-control success

Tornquist, Michelle (2019) What makes people with high trait self-control successful? The role of beliefs about the utility of emotions and emotion regulation in self-control success. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

High trait self-control predicts a successful, healthy, and happy life. Nonetheless, how people with high trait self-control succeed at self-control and attain these outcomes remains unclear. To date, a few studies have linked high trait self-control with effective emotion regulation, and others have linked emotion regulation with enhanced self-control. Building on these insights, along with insights from instrumental emotion regulation, which holds that people regulate emotions to attain goals, this programme of research tests whether people higher in trait self-control use their emotions and emotion regulation to succeed at self-control.

Two studies (Study 1: N = 253; Study 2: N = 306) first examined the relations between trait self-control and beliefs about the utility of emotions in everyday situations that varied in self-control type required. Three studies (Study 1: N = 415; Study 2: N = 140; Study 3: N = 210) then explored the links between trait self-control, beliefs about the utility of emotions, and emotion regulation in performance contexts that varied in self-control demand, and how these factors influenced emotions and self-control performance.

Convincing evidence was found that people higher, relative to lower, in trait self-control considered positive emotions more useful and negative emotions less useful across situations, although these beliefs did not translate into preferences or choice to regulate emotions. Modest evidence was found that people higher in trait self-control experienced more positive and less negative emotion following a regulatory task, and that more positive and less negative emotion helped people higher in trait self-control to succeed at self-control. Thus, trait self-control predicts beliefs about the utility of emotions, but whether these beliefs translate into behavior depend on context.

This research contributes to our understanding of how emotions and emotion regulation might shape self-control success and has the potential to inform the design of interventions to improve people’s self-control and help them to attain positive outcomes.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF0511 Affection. Feeling. Emotion > BF0531 Emotion
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2019 15:03
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2019 15:03
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/81536

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