Washington: People with low self-control prefer to count on people with high self-control, possibly as a way to make up for the skills they themselves lack, a new research has suggested.

People, who are low on self-control, could relieve a lot of their self-control struggles by being with an individual, who has a higher will power, said Catherine Shea, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in Fitzsimons's lab.

To test this prediction, psychological scientists Shea, Grainne Fitzsimons, and Erin Davisson of Duke University conducted two lab-based studies and one study with real-life romantic partners.

In the first study, participants were asked to view a video and the researchers experimentally manipulated their self-control by asking one group to avoid reading words that flashed up on the screen during the video (lowering their self-control), while giving no such instructions to the other group.

Each participant was then made to read a vignette about one of three office managers — one who demonstrated low self-control behaviour, one who demonstrated high self-control behaviour, and one who demonstrated both high and low self-control behaviours - and asked to rate them on their leadership abilities. The results showed that when people were temporarily depleted of their self-control, they rated the manager, who had high self-control, above two other managers.

A second study showed that people, who demonstrated low trait self-control on a standard self-control task, also showed a preference for the manager with high self-control. In the third study, the researchers tested their hypothesis using survey information from 136 romantic couples.

Again, the information confirmed the hypothesis that people, who reported having low-self control, also reported greater dependence on their partner if they happened to have a high self-control. The research has been published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.


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