Self-efficacy as a Mediator between Causal Attributions and Subsequent Failure in Dieting
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This article examines why some individuals snowball into subsequent failure after failing their diet goal once, and others do not. After reviewing the literature about the disinhibition effect and the abstinence violation effect, it is hypothesized that causal attributions are a predictor of subsequent failure and that the relationship between causal attributions and subsequent failure is mediated by self-efficacy. A study was conducted to investigate the predictive validity of causal attributions and the mediating effect of self-efficacy, employing a two-phased questionnaire (N=221). Phase one measured the initial failure, causal attributions and self-efficacy. Phase two was distributed after four days and included the assessment of subsequent failure. Results from this retrospective cross-sectional study showed that causal attributions did not significantly predicted subsequent failure. Yet, the sample lacked variance in causal attributions and which complicated the analyses. In view of the lack of variance, the effect of self-efficacy was tested across the entire sample. Negative r correlations were found, which indicated that reduced feelings of self-efficacy after the initial failure were related to more days of subsequent failure and subjective failure. The results suggest that almost all participants attributed internally and that self-efficacy plays a part in subsequent failure in dieting.