Self-Control Depletion Leads to Increased Risk Taking
Abstract (Via Sagepub)
Previous research has found that individuals low in trait self-control are more likely to take excessive risks than individuals high in trait self-control. The authors expand on this by examining the causal effects of state fluctuations in self-control on subsequent risk taking. Using the self-control strength model, the authors predicted that depleted individuals would take more risks than individuals who did not exert self-control initially. This was tested in two experiments, using both self-reports and performance on the Balloon Analogue Risk Task. In both experiments, greater risk taking by depleted participants was related only to the amount of self-control previously exerted. This suggests that situational decrements in self-control strength lead to greater risk taking. Additional data suggest that the effects of depletion on taking chances are above and beyond the effects of trait self-control. This may help to explain situational effects, such as why conscientious people sometimes take unnecessary risks.