Unraveling the Relationship Between Trait Self-control and Subjective Well-being: The Mediating Role of Four Self-control Strategies

Kristian Steensen Nielsen, Wencke Gwozdz, Denise De Ridder

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Abstract

Although several studies provide evidence that trait self-control contributes to subjective well-being, the self-control strategies that promotes happiness and life satisfaction remains unknown. The present study aims to shed light on this relation by investigating the mediating role of four self-control strategies: situation selection, attentional deployment, reappraisal, and inhibition. To test the hypothesis that self-control strategies mediate trait self-control’s effect on well-being, an online questionnaire on trait self-control, self-control strategies, and cognitive and affective well-being was administered to 4,036 participants from four countries (ages 18–65 and 56.4% female), whose responses were analyzed using structural equation modeling. Our analysis replicates previous studies that trait self-control positively relates to subjective well-being. Moreover, our analysis provides evidence that this relation is indeed mediated by the tendency to employ particular self-control strategies. Attentional deployment and reappraisal positively relate to subjective well-being, whereas inhibition exhibits a negative relation. Situation selection was unrelated to subjective well-being. The incorporation of self-control strategies represents the first attempt to empirically disentangle the positive relation between trait self-control and subjective well-being. The heterogeneous effects of self-control strategies suggest the importance of obtaining a better understanding of which aspects of trait self-control positively contributes to subjective well-being.
Original languageEnglish
Article number706
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume10
Number of pages10
ISSN1664-1078
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2019

Keywords

  • Trait self-control
  • Self-control strategies
  • Subjective well-being
  • Structural equation modeling
  • Cross-cultural survey

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