The relationship between self-control and health: The mediating effect of avoidant coping

Psychol Health. 2011 Aug;26(8):1049-62. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2010.529139. Epub 2011 May 23.


Trait self-control is related to a number of positive outcomes, including mental health, interpersonal success, academic success and health-related behaviours. This study sought to explore the relationships between self-control, reports of mental and physical health symptoms and coping styles. The results revealed that higher self-control was related to fewer mental and physical health symptoms and less avoidance coping. There was not a significant relationship between self-control and problem-focused or emotion-focused coping styles. Further, the relationships between self-control and mental and physical health outcomes were partially mediated by avoidance coping style. Specifically, the data suggest lower self-control is associated with unhealthy coping strategies (avoidance coping), which in turn are associated with worse mental health outcomes and greater reports of physical health symptoms. Thus lower trait self-control can serve as an indicator, suggesting circumstances in which individuals' tendencies to engage in unhealthy coping strategies are increased. These findings add to a growing body of literature underscoring the importance of trait self-control.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Avoidance Learning*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Texas
  • Young Adult