Knowledge of the Self-Control Benefits of High-Level Versus Low-Level Construal

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Abstract

Research indicates that inducing high-level construal (processing that highlights invariant, essential features) relative to low-level construal (processing that highlights idiosyncratic, peripheral features) promotes self-control (Fujita & Carnevale, 2012). In the present work, we investigate to what extent people recognize the self-control benefits of high-level construal, and explore the consequences of this knowledge. Studies 1 and 2 provide initial evidence that individuals are aware that high-level relative to low-level construal promotes self-control in the dieting domain. Studies 3 and 4 find that individual differences in this knowledge predict self-control success outcomes (i.e., body mass index) among those who are motivated by dieting goals. Examining academics as a domain of self-control, Study 5 demonstrates that those with higher knowledge of construal level’s impact on self-control earned higher end-of-semester grades to the extent that they were motivated to do well academically. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

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