Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology


Social/Personality Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, 135 pages) : illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Mark Muraven

Committee Members

Kevin J. Williams, Michael T. Ford


choice, depletion, goals, precommitment, self-control, Self-control, Goal (Psychology)

Subject Categories

Experimental Analysis of Behavior | Social Psychology


Public precommitment to a goal may drive goal achievement. This work explores the effects of public precommitment on goal achievement using the limited-resource model of self-control. Goal commitment which alters future choices available by inflicting a self-imposed cost for giving up is called precommitment. Public commitment to a goal can be viewed as precommitment by imposing a social cost for failure (e.g., anticipated embarrassment). This may facilitate goal pursuit through two processes: First, by shifting the cost earlier in the process via the structural route in which goal-setting processes may deplete self-control resources initially (Studies 1 and 2), while improving performance by replenishing regulatory resources before the goal task is attempted (Study 2). Second, goal pursuit may be facilitated via the procedural route in that precommitment may reduce the temptation to quit, thereby requiring less self-control resources to enact the goal task (Study 2). Two studies tested the effects of public and private precommitment on self-regulatory resource depletion and on goal performance in accordance with this "bank" model. While supporting evidence was limited (planned differences between conditions did not reach significance in most analyses of variance), three regression analyses partially supported the model (publicness and choice led to greater depletion after goal-setting; greater temptation led to worse goal performance; and greater goal commitment led to less post-goal depletion; Study 2). Evidence also suggested that publicness led to greater goal commitment, greater perception of choice, and more anticipated negative emotions as well as greater goal recall (and commitment at a six-week follow-up; Study 1). Thus, limited evidence supported the hypothesized model.