Self-control at high and low levels of mental construal

Brandon J. Schmeichel, Kathleen D. Vohs, S. Cristina Duke

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46 Scopus citations


The present experiment tested the hypothesis that low-level construals-a known contributor to self-control failure-can improve self-control under some circumstances. In support of this hypothesis, the authors found evidence that low-level construals (relative to high-level construals) improve performance on a measure of response inhibition that requires close attention and responsiveness to the immediate environment-the stop signal task (SST). They also found evidence, consistent with previous research, that high-level construals (relative to low-level construals) improve performance on a modified version of the SST (i.e., the delay SST) that requires both response inhibition and goal maintenance in working memory. These results suggest that, depending on the nature of the task, either low-level construals or high-level construals can enhance self-control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-189
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2011

Bibliographical note

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  • Construal
  • Goal maintenance
  • Inhibition
  • Self-control
  • Stop signal task
  • Working memory


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