Do Demanding Conditions Help or Hurt Self-Regulation?
Article first published online: 2 APR 2012
© 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Social and Personality Psychology Compass
Volume 6, Issue 4, pages 328–346, April 2012
How to Cite
Koole, S. L., Jostmann, N. B. and Baumann, N. (2012), Do Demanding Conditions Help or Hurt Self-Regulation?. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 6: 328–346. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-9004.2012.00425.x
- Issue published online: 2 APR 2012
- Article first published online: 2 APR 2012
Although everyday life is often demanding, it remains unclear how demanding conditions impact self-regulation. Some theories suggest that demanding conditions impair self-regulation, by undermining autonomy, interfering with skilled performance and working memory, and depleting energy resources. Other theories, however, suggest that demanding conditions improve self-regulation by mobilizing super-ordinate control processes. The present article integrates both kinds of theories by proposing that the self-regulatory impact of demanding conditions depends on how people adapt to such conditions. When people are action-oriented, demanding conditions may lead to improved self-regulation. When people are state-oriented, demanding conditions may lead to impaired self-regulation. Consistent with this idea, action versus state orientation strongly moderates the influence of demands on self-regulatory performance. The impact of demanding conditions on self-regulation is thus not fixed, but modifiable by psychological processes.