A Question of Method and Subjective Beliefs: The Association of Need for Cognition with Self-Control

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Need for Cognition (NFC) describes the relatively stable intrinsic motivation to engage in cognitive endeavors. Recent research has
revealed the importance of NFC for affective adjustment, especially in combination with self-control. We followed up on those findings by
addressing methodological issues as well as processes that may underlie relations of NFC to self-control. Study 1 (N = 102) examined whether
NFC is associated with self-control independently of the measure or facet considered. Implicit willpower theories, that is, subjective beliefs
concerning the limitation of self-control resources, were examined as a mediator for NFC predicting self-control. Higher NFC was associated
with increased trait self-control but also with believing in unlimited self-control resources. The relation of NFC to willpower theories also
mediated the prediction of trait self-control. Study 2 (N = 188) replicated relations of NFC to self-control. We further pursued the explanatory
approach from Study 1 and experimentally manipulated willpower theories to provide insight into their association with NFC. Willpower
theories were related to NFC but had no mediating role in predicting self-control. The experimental manipulation had no impact on situationspecific
NFC. Altogether, both studies provided first evidence that relations of NFC to self-control depend on the self-control measure and
that willpower theories may be crucial for explaining the association with self-control.


Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Individual Differences
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Sept 2022

External IDs

Scopus 85138500143
Mendeley fd8bfaaa-15ac-316e-a82e-4b06be60d808
ORCID /0000-0002-4408-6016/work/142234414


Research priority areas of TU Dresden

Subject groups, research areas, subject areas according to Destatis

ASJC Scopus subject areas


  • Need for Cognition, self-control, self-regulation, implicit theories of willpower, Need für Cognition, self-control, self-regulation, implicit theories of willpower, Need for Cognition