Effort or Escape: Self-concept Structure Determines Self-regulatory Behavior
The current research examined the interaction between self-complexity, affect, and perceived goal attainability on self-regulation. Participants received failure feedback about their performance and were given the opportunity to reduce this discrepancy through practice. Greater self-complexity was associated with greater practice, regardless of affect and perceived effectiveness of practice. Lower self-complexity was only associated with greater practice when participants experienced negative affect and believed practice was effective at improving performance. These results suggest that those greater in self-complexity self-regulate when external cues signal the presence of a self-discrepancy, whereas those lower in self-complexity self-regulate when negative affect signals the presence of a discrepancy. However, when the discrepancy cannot be reduced directly, lower self-complexity individuals escape the situation to avoid negative affect.