City Research Online

Too Little Money or Time? Using Justifications to Maintain a Positive Image After Self-Control Failure

Steinmetz, J. ORCID: 0000-0003-3299-4858 (2023). Too Little Money or Time? Using Justifications to Maintain a Positive Image After Self-Control Failure. European Journal of Social Psychology,


Research has shown that people frequently fail at exerting self-control. Yet, having good self-control is essential for being relied on and trusted. In this research, I test which common and frequent excuses of self-control failures (i.e., resulting from lack of time versus money) allow people to maintain an image of good self-control despite failure. In six studies (five preregistered), using different types of self-control domains, I show that participants perceived someone who failed at a resolution to nevertheless have good self-control if they failed because they lacked money (vs. time) to follow through (Study 1). This effect was due to the mediated (Study 2a) and manipulated (Study 2b) perceived controllability of the excuse. This effect had downstream consequences for participants’ hypothetical and real behavior toward the individual when their outcomes were interdependent (Studies 3 and 4). Finally, participants lacked insight into these patterns when communicating their own self-control failures, which they attributed to lack of time over money (Study 5).

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: [FULL CITE], which will be published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited.
Publisher Keywords: self-control failure; justifications; resources; impression management
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
[thumbnail of Manuscript.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
This document is not freely accessible due to copyright restrictions.

To request a copy, please use the button below.

Request a copy


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login