An empirical examination of the relationship between self-regulation and self-control
Conklin, Erin Marie
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Self-regulation and self-control are motivational constructs involved in the process of goal pursuit (Karoly, 1993). Although investigators within and across various fields of psychology have used the terms interchangeably (e.g., Hofmann, Rauch, & Gawronski, 2007; Lord, Diefendorff, Schmidt, & Hall, 2009; Wood, 2005), theoretical work stemming from the clinical field suggests that they are distinct yet related constructs (e.g., F. Kanfer, 1970, 1977; F. Kanfer & Karoly, 1972). However, until now, the relationship between self-regulation and self-control had not been investigated empirically. In the current program of research, I delineated their relationship in two ways. First, I developed and evaluated new self-report measures that better match theoretical models of self-regulation and self-control. Participants (N = 199) completed a battery of self-report questionnaires regarding personality, motivation, self-regulation, and self-control. The new measures had acceptable internal consistency and test-retest reliabilities, and displayed relationships expected for convergent and discriminant validity. Modeling techniques indicated that self-control and self-regulation are not strongly enough associated to fall under one higher-order factor, and that the relationship between the two constructs was best represented by a model in which self-control was associated with the self-regulatory stage of goal striving. Second, I evaluated the efficacy of a training session that included self-control techniques in addition to self-regulation skills, and compared outcomes to those from a self-regulation only training group, and a control group. One sample of undergraduate students (N = 49) and one sample of day-shift employees (N=41) were included. Participants completed questionnaires twice daily for a period of three weeks to report sleep-wake behavior, fatigue, affect, and productivity. Objective sleep measures also were obtained through the use of actigraphs, which monitor sleep-wake activity. The self-regulation training groups showed better goal adherence following the intervention compared to the control group, and the combined training groups had even better goal adherence than the self-regulation group. Positive affective changes were also reported among the training groups following the study period. The development of new measurement and training techniques, which better align with the theoretical formulations of self-regulation and self-control, will help to advance the theoretical work concerning these constructs, and could lead to improvement in workplace outcomes.