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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, 54(1), pp. 332-340. doi: 10.1002/ejsp.3010


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: © 2023 The Authors. European Journal of Social Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.
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
SWORD Depositor:
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