Facing temptation in the bar: counteracting the effects of self-control failure on young adults' ad libitum alcohol intake
Background and Aims
The self-control strength model suggests that exertion of self-control leads to poorer subsequent self-control performance. Failure of self-control has been suggested as an important underlying mechanism of excessive drinking. This study tested the effects of self-control failure on ad libitum drinking, and the potential moderating role of glucose and self-awareness on this relationship.
The current research examined in two experiments whether the effects of self-control failure were different for males and females, and whether glucose (experiment 1) and self-awareness (experiment 2) would counteract the effects of self-control failure. A between-participants design with four conditions was employed in each experiment.
A semi-naturalistic drinking setting in the form of a laboratory bar.
Undergraduate students recruited at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands (experiment 1: n = 106; experiment 2: n = 108).
The total amount of alcohol consumed during an experimental break (observational data) and questionnaire data on drinking patterns.
Self-control failure led to increased levels of drinking in males (P < 0.05), whereas females drank less after being depleted (P < 0.01). Self-awareness, but not glucose, was found to counteract the effects of self-control failure among males (P < 0.05).
Self-control failure leads to increased drinking of alcohol in males and decreased levels of drinking alcohol in females. However, increasing self-awareness appears to be a promising strategy in facing the temptation to drink when cognitive resources to inhibit intake are low.