This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Does Higher Self-Control Predict Higher State-Orientation and Negative Self-Referential Emotions? A Mixed Methods Study.




Hayes, Dean

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling


Trait self-control has been evaluated overwhelmingly as desirable, but only limited research has investigated the negative trade-offs associated with exercising self-control. This paper uses mixed methods to explore potentially negative side effects of self-control. A sample of 308 college students was given the Self-Control Scale, the Guilt and Shame Proneness Scale, and the Action-Control Scale. Afterwards, a group of 12 participants were interviewed, with transcriptions coded using a grounded theory approach. Self-control was found to correlate positively with action-orientation and with the affective experience of negative self-referential emotions. Self-control was found to correlate positively with guilt behaviors, but negatively with shame behaviors. The linear regression model with self-control as the independent variable was found to account for additional variance after accounting for social desirability in all cases except that of shame-withdrawal, and the quadratic model was found to account for more variance than the linear model regarding one subscale of action-control. Participants provided descriptions of their experience of self-control in the qualitative interviews. Participants presented reminding themselves of their primary goals as a key technique for facilitating self-control and presented self-alienation as a potential negative side effect. Implications and applications to counseling psychology are discussed.