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      The impact of self-control cues on subsequent monetary risk-taking


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          Background and aims

          The “process-model” of self-control proposes that the ego-depletion effect is better explained by a switch between interest in “have-to” labor and cognitive “want-to” leisure, rather than being mainly due to a decrease in cognitive resources, as advanced by the “strength-model” of self-control. However, it is currently difficult to disentangle the “process-model” from the “strength-model” of self-control. Here, we employed a stepwise approach, featuring three studies, for testing the process model of self-control.


          In Study 1, we created a list of 30 self-control events for characterizing “have-to” conducts in the daily life. In Study 2, mental visualization of effortful self-control events (“have-to”) and monetary risk-taking (“want-to”) were employed for testing the strength-model of self-control. In Study 3, to test the process-model of self-control, participants were simply required to read self-control (or neutral) sentences.


          Study 1 provided evidence regarding external validly for the list of self-control events. Study 2 showed that mental visualization of effortful self-control events increases subsequent monetary risk-taking. Study 3 highlighted that the brief apparition of a self-control-related sentence was sufficient for increasing risk-taking. These patterns were evidenced in the trial with the less advantageous gain/loss ratio.


          Altogether these findings support the process-model of self-control in showing that triggering the semantic content of a “have-to” conduct, without its actual execution, is sufficient for modulating subsequent “want-to” activity.


          These findings could contribute to advancing current knowledge on how the high availability of ready-to-consume rewards in modern environments is redefining humans’ self-control ability.

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          Most cited references48

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          High self-control predicts good adjustment, less pathology, better grades, and interpersonal success.

          What good is self-control? We incorporated a new measure of individual differences in self-control into two large investigations of a broad spectrum of behaviors. The new scale showed good internal consistency and retest reliability. Higher scores on self-control correlated with a higher grade point average, better adjustment (fewer reports of psychopathology, higher self-esteem), less binge eating and alcohol abuse, better relationships and interpersonal skills, secure attachment, and more optimal emotional responses. Tests for curvilinearity failed to indicate any drawbacks of so-called overcontrol, and the positive effects remained after controlling for social desirability. Low self-control is thus a significant risk factor for a broad range of personal and interpersonal problems.
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            Are we overpathologizing everyday life? A tenable blueprint for behavioral addiction research

            Background Behavioral addiction research has been particularly flourishing over the last two decades. However, recent publications have suggested that nearly all daily life activities might lead to a genuine addiction. Methods and aim In this article, we discuss how the use of atheoretical and confirmatory research approaches may result in the identification of an unlimited list of “new” behavioral addictions. Results Both methodological and theoretical shortcomings of these studies were discussed. Conclusions We suggested that studies overpathologizing daily life activities are likely to prompt a dismissive appraisal of behavioral addiction research. Consequently, we proposed several roadmaps for future research in the field, centrally highlighting the need for longer tenable behavioral addiction research that shifts from a mere criteria-based approach toward an approach focusing on the psychological processes involved.
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              Decision making and the avoidance of cognitive demand.

              Behavioral and economic theories have long maintained that actions are chosen so as to minimize demands for exertion or work, a principle sometimes referred to as the law of less work. The data supporting this idea pertain almost entirely to demands for physical effort. However, the same minimization principle has often been assumed also to apply to cognitive demand. The authors set out to evaluate the validity of this assumption. In 6 behavioral experiments, participants chose freely between courses of action associated with different levels of demand for controlled information processing. Together, the results of these experiments revealed a bias in favor of the less demanding course of action. The bias was obtained across a range of choice settings and demand manipulations and was not wholly attributable to strategic avoidance of errors, minimization of time on task, or maximization of the rate of goal achievement. It is remarkable that the effect also did not depend on awareness of the demand manipulation. Consistent with a motivational account, avoidance of demand displayed sensitivity to task incentives and covaried with individual differences in the efficacy of executive control. The findings reported, together with convergent neuroscientific evidence, lend support to the idea that anticipated cognitive demand plays a significant role in behavioral decision making.

                Author and article information

                Journal of Behavioral Addictions
                J Behav Addict
                Akadémiai Kiadó (Budapest )
                12 October 2018
                December 2018
                : 7
                : 4
                : 1044-1055
                [ 1 ]Laboratory of Psychological Medicine and Addictology, Faculty of Medicine, CHU-Brugmann, Université Libre de Bruxelles , Brussels, Belgium
                [ 2 ]Research in Psychology Applied to Motor Learning, Faculty of Motor Sciences, Université Libre de Bruxelles , Brussels, Belgium
                [ 3 ]College of Business and Economics, California State University , Fullerton, CA, USA
                [ 4 ]Department of Psychology, and Brain and Creativity Institute, University of Southern California , Los Angeles, CA, USA
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author: Damien Brevers, PhD; Chargé de Recherche, FNRS, Laboratory of Psychological Medicine and Addictology, Faculty of Medicine, CHU-Brugmann, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Place Van Gehuchten, 4, 1020, Brussels, Belgium; Phone: +32 2 473 130; Fax: +32 2 477 21 62; E-mail: dbrevers@ 123456ulb.ac.be
                © 2018 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium for non-commercial purposes, provided the original author and source are credited, a link to the CC License is provided, and changes – if any – are indicated.

                : 30 May 2018
                : 28 July 2018
                : 10 August 2018
                : 30 August 2018
                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 3, Equations: 0, References: 58, Pages: 12
                Funding sources: This work was supported by the National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG; Early Stage Investigator Grant) and the Belgian National Funds for Scientific Research (FNRS; Chargé de Recherche Grant).
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                Evolutionary Biology,Medicine,Psychology,Educational research & Statistics,Social & Behavioral Sciences


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