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Implicit theories about willpower predict self-regulation and grades in everyday life.

Job, Veronika; Walton, Gregory M.; Bernecker, Katharina; Dweck, Carol S. (2015). Implicit theories about willpower predict self-regulation and grades in everyday life. Journal of personality and social psychology, 108 (4), pp. 637-647. 10.1037/pspp0000014

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Laboratory research shows that when people believe that willpower is an abundant (rather than highly limited) resource they exhibit better self-control after demanding tasks. However, some have questioned whether this “nonlimited” theory leads to squandering of resources and worse outcomes in everyday life when demands on self-regulation are high. To examine this, we conducted a longitudinal study, assessing students’ theories about willpower and tracking their self-regulation and academic performance. As hypothesized, a nonlimited theory predicted better self-regulation (better time management and less procrastination, unhealthy eating, and impulsive spending) for students who faced high self-regulatory demands. Moreover, among students taking a heavy course load, those with a nonlimited theory earned higher grades, which was mediated by less procrastination. These findings contradict the idea that a limited theory helps people allocate their resources more effectively; instead, it is people with the nonlimited theory who self-regulate well in the face of high demands.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

PHBern Contributor:

Bernecker, K.




Sibylle Blanchard

Date Deposited:

27 May 2024 10:03

Last Modified:

02 Jun 2024 12:56

Publisher DOI:





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