Confronted with chocolate: The role of self-control and temptation strength on food consumption
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Temptations can evoke a conflict between immediate, smaller motives (i.e. enjoying a chocolate bar) and abstract, larger motives (i.e. losing weight). In order to resist temptations and behave in accordance with the long-term and larger motives, self-control is needed. Furthermore, the strength of a temptation influences whether people can resist temptations and make future-oriented decisions as well. The aim of the current research was to study the effect of both self-control and temptation strength on behavior and to examine the interaction effect between self-control and temptation strength on behavior. The sample consisted of 101 participants between 16 and 50 years of age (M = 22.38, SD = 4.26). The independent variables in this study were temptation strength, which was manipulated by offering the participants either weakly tempting or highly tempting food, and trait self-control, which was measured on a continuous scale. The dependent variable in this study was the amount of chocolate the participants consumed. Contradictory to the expectations, there was no significant predictive value of both self-control and temptation strength on food consumption. The predictive value of the interaction between self-control and temptation strength on food consumption turned out to be non-significant as well. Further research into the effect of this interaction on behavior is needed. The current study can be seen as the starting point of research into the interaction between self-control and temptation strength, as it is the first to combine these two.