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Title: Cumulative Effects of Exertions of Self-Control in Expected and Unexpected Conditions
Authors: Pons, Samuel
Advisors: Conway, Andrew
Contributors: Pillow, Jonathan
Department: Psychology
Class Year: 2015
Abstract: The purpose of the research is to better understand the faculties of will power and self-control. More specifically, the research is aimed at testing the efficacy of "conservation" as strategy for extended self-control allocation. Conservation is a strategy thought to be applied when a person is presented with consecutive self-control trials and attempts to save cognitive resources for the demands of later trials. In doing this they consciously reduce their effort on the first tasks in order to have cognitive strength to complete the final tasks as well. For example, a student who knows he/she has multiple classes, homework, and a formal presentation will have more difficulty delivering the last task of the day, the presentation, than paying studious attention in the first class. However, knowing that the presentation is as important as the other tasks of the day, the student will likely budget their cognitive control so that they are not overly fatigued for the final presentation. Testing this strategy will both 1) challenge or lend credence to Will Baumeister's "muscle" theory of self-control and 2) gain insight into human decision making in situations of will power deficiencies. Participants will be split up into two groups, both of which will have multiple self-control tasks to complete, but one will be aware of all of the tasks ahead and one will not be aware. The forward knowledge of the tasks ahead will elicit the "conservation" strategy and the knowledgeable group will attempt to budget their cognitive strength. The unaware group will have no advanced knowledge of the tasks at hand and will be presented with them one at a time. Upon completion of each task they will be informed that there are more tasks to complete. This ensures that the "conservation" strategy will not be used because they will not have knowledge of the forward tasks. The cumulative score across the tasks for each group will be totaled and compared to determine if "conservation" is overall an effective strategy.
Extent: 26 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Psychology, 1930-2016

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