Construal levels and self-control

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2006 Mar;90(3):351-67. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.90.3.351.


The authors propose that self-control involves making decisions and behaving in a manner consistent with high-level versus low-level construals of a situation. Activation of high-level construals (which capture global, superordinate, primary features of an event) should lead to greater self-control than activation of low-level construals (which capture local, subordinate, secondary features). In 6 experiments using 3 different techniques, the authors manipulated construal levels and assessed their effects on self-control and underlying psychological processes. High-level construals led to decreased preferences for immediate over delayed outcomes, greater physical endurance, stronger intentions to exert self-control, and less positive evaluations of temptations that undermine self-control. These results support a construal-level analysis of self-control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Behavior
  • Cognition*
  • Cues
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Male
  • Self Concept*
  • Students