A Meta-Analysis of the Convergent Validity of Self-Control Measures

J Res Pers. 2011 Jun 1;45(3):259-268. doi: 10.1016/j.jrp.2011.02.004.


There is extraordinary diversity in how the construct of self-control is operationalized in research studies. We meta-analytically examined evidence of convergent validity among executive function, delay of gratification, and self- and informant-report questionnaire measures of self-control. Overall, measures demonstrated moderate convergence (r(random) = .27 [95% CI = .24, .30]; r(fixed) = .34 [.33, .35], k = 282 samples, N = 33,564 participants), although there was substantial heterogeneity in the observed correlations. Correlations within and across types of self-control measures were strongest for informant-report questionnaires and weakest for executive function tasks. Questionnaires assessing sensation seeking impulses could be distinguished from questionnaires assessing processes of impulse regulation. We conclude that self-control is a coherent but multidimensional construct best assessed using multiple methods.