Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology


Social/Personality Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, 98 pages) : illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Mark Muraven

Committee Members

Monica Rodriguez, Ronald Friedman


Conservation, Motivation, Self-control, Self-regulation, Conservation (Psychology)

Subject Categories

Social Psychology


Preliminary evidence suggests that when individuals believe that they will have to exert self-control in the near future, their performance on an intervening self-control task suffers so that limited self-control resources are conserved for later use (Muraven, Shmueli, & Burkley, 2006). The current research sought to further clarify the extent to which beliefs about the limited nature of self-control contribute to this conservation effect. Specifically, it is unclear whether simply recognizing that a task requires self-control is enough to prompt individuals to approach the task with a conservation strategy, or, if conservation strategies are only pursued in reaction to resources having actually been taxed. Further, important questions remain about variables that may modify whether or not people conserve. The results of two experiments did not support the primary hypothesis that individuals who anticipate a future need for self-control conserve self-control strength as a preemptive strategy, before their self-control resources have actually been expended. Contrary to predictions, individuals who anticipated an important future self-control task did not deliberately reduce their performance on an intervening self-control task nor did they demonstrate a preference for an intervening task that would not tax their self-control resources. Implications for self-control conservation and for the role of lay beliefs in self-regulatory behaviors are discussed.