Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: doi:10.22028/D291-30757
Title: Why Self-Report Measures of Self-Control and Inhibition Tasks Do Not Substantially Correlate
Author(s): Wennerhold, Lasse Henning
Friese, Malte
Language: English
Title: Collabra: Psychology
Volume: 6
Issue: 1
Publisher/Platform: University of California Press
Year of Publication: 2020
Free key words: self-control
self-report measures
Self-Control Scale
inhibition tasks
executive function
typical versus maximum performance
DDC notations: 150 Psychology
Publikation type: Journal Article
Abstract: Trait self-control is often defined as the ability to inhibit dominant responses including thoughts, emotions, and behavioral impulses. Despite the pivotal role of inhibition for trait self-control, a growing body of evidence found small-to-zero correlations between self-report measures of trait self-control and behavioral inhibition tasks. These observations seem puzzling considering that both types of measures are often seen as operationalizations of the same or at least closely related theoretical constructs. Previous explanations for this non-correspondence focused on psychometric properties of the measures. Here, we discuss three further factors that may explain the empirical non-correspondence between trait self-control scales and behavioral inhibition tasks: (1) the distinction between typical and maximum performance, (2) the measurement of single versus repeated performance, and (3) differences between impulses in different domains. Specifically, we argue that a) self-report measures of trait self-control are designed to assess typical performance, and relative to these, behavioral inhibition tasks are designed to assess maximum performance; b) self-report measures of trait self-control capture central tendencies of aggregates of many different instances of behavior, whereas behavioral inhibition tasks are momentary, one-time state measures; and c) most self-report measures of trait self-control are designed to measure general, cross-domain inhibition, whereas behavioral inhibition tasks also measure narrower, domainspecific inhibition to a substantial degree. In conclusion, we argue that it is implausible to hypothesize more than a low correlation between self-report measures of trait self-control and behavioral inhibition tasks as they genuinely focus on different aspects of the theoretical construct of self-control. We also discuss the broader implications of these issues for self-control as a theoretical construct and its appropriate measurement.
DOI of the first publication: 10.1525/collabra.276
Link to this record: urn:nbn:de:bsz:291--ds-307571
ISSN: 2474-7394
Date of registration: 20-Apr-2020
Faculty: HW - Fakultät für Empirische Humanwissenschaften und Wirtschaftswissenschaft
Department: HW - Psychologie
Professorship: HW - Prof. Dr. Malte Friese
Collections:SciDok - Der Wissenschaftsserver der Universität des Saarlandes

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