Self-control is typically viewed as a key ingredient responsible for effective self-regulation and personal goal attainment. This study used experience sampling, daily diary, and prospective data collection to investigate the immediate and semester-long consequences of effortful self-control and temptations on depletion and goal attainment. Results showed that goal attainment was influenced by experiences of temptations rather than by actively resisting or controlling those temptations. This study also found that simply experiencing temptations led people to feel depleted. Depletion in turn mediated the link between temptations and goal attainment, such that people who experienced increased temptations felt more depleted and thus less likely to achieve their goals. Critically, results of Bayesian analyses strongly indicate that effortful self-control was consistently unrelated to goal attainment throughout all analyses.

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Keywords ego depletion, experience sampling, goal pursuit, self-control, temptation
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Journal Social Psychological and Personality Science
Milyavskaya, M, & Inzlicht, M. (Michael). (2017). What’s So Great About Self-Control? Examining the Importance of Effortful Self-Control and Temptation in Predicting Real-Life Depletion and Goal Attainment. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 8(6), 603–611. doi:10.1177/1948550616679237