Reported self-control is not meaningfully associated with inhibition-related executive function: A Bayesian analysis

Blair Saunders (Lead / Corresponding author), Marina Milyavskaya, Alexander Etz, Daniel Randles, Michael Inzlicht

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Self-control is assessed using a remarkable array of measures. In a series of five data-sets (overall N = 2,641) and a mini meta-analysis, we explored the association between canonical operationalisations of self-control: The Self-Control Scale and two measures of inhibition related executive functioning (the Stroop and Flanker paradigms). Overall, Bayesian correlational analyses suggested little-to-no relationship between self-reported self-control and performance on the Stroop and Flanker tasks. The Bayesian meta-analytical summary of all five data-sets further favoured a null relationship between both types of measurement. These results suggest that the field’s most widely used measure of self-reported self-control is uncorrelated with two of the most widely adopted executive functioning measures of self-control. Consequently, theoretical and practical conclusions drawn using one measure (e.g., the Self-Control Scale) cannot be generalised to findings using the other (e.g., the Stroop task). The lack of empirical correlation between measures of self-control do not invalidate either measure, but instead suggest that treatments of the construct of self-control need to pay greater attention to convergent validity among the many measures used to operationalize self-control.
Original languageEnglish
Article number39
Number of pages16
JournalCollabra: Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Nov 2018


  • self-control
  • cognitive control
  • inhibitory executive functioning
  • Bayesian statistics


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