Experiencing affective reactions: How can negative affect predict goal pursuit after self-control failure?
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Self-control is crucial in understanding human behaviour and reasoning. It has a huge impact on one’s mental as well as physical well-being, among many other areas. However, it is inevitable to experience self-control failure, where we give in to temptations that hinder us in our goal pursuit. Such a failure does not have to be seen as a defeat – some may actually come out stronger and become more confident in pursuing their goal. Nevertheless, some decide to quit after failing once or multiple times. The current study focussed on the process of self-control failure in goal pursuit, and how negative emotions experienced after self-control failure predict goal pursuit. This mediating effect was explored through means of an online questionnaire, which covered the (1) main characteristics of the participants, (2) self-control failure, (3) goal pursuit, and (4) the PANAS scale, (5) importance of the goal, and (6) type of goal. The results showed no significant effect for a mediation of negative affect in goal pursuit only a significant (negative) direct effect between self-control failure and goal pursuit. Therefore, the hypothesis was not supported. An exploratory analysis was performed, where positive affect was examined as the mediator. These did give a significant negative mediation effect, meaning that not experiencing positive affect after self-control failure would negatively predict goal pursuit. Unfortunately, this study was severely underpowered, thus no definitive conclusions could be drawn. Further research with a larger sample size is needed to determine the actual significance of these effects.