We demonstrate the effect of consumers' lay theories of self-control on goal-directed behavior as evidenced by New Year's and other resolutions. Across three studies, we find that individuals who believe that self-control is a malleable but inherently limited (vs. unlimited) resource tend to set fewer resolutions. Using respondents' own idiographic resolutions, this result is shown to hold in general as well as in consumption-specific domains regardless of whether lay theories are measured or manipulated. The effect is reversed if respondents contrast beliefs regarding their own levels of self-control with their lay theories. The final field experiment shows that "limited self-control theorists" are less likely to succeed at their resolutions if they have low (vs. high) self-efficacy.
Anirban, Mukhopadhyay, and Gita Johar. "Where There Is a Will, Is There a Way? The Effects of Consumers' Lay Theories of Self-Control on Setting and Keeping Resolutions." Journal of Consumer Research 31, no. 4 (March 2005): 779-86.
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