Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Ginette C. Blackhart

Committee Members

Matthew McBee, Eric Sellers, Diana Morelen


Self-control has been measured using a variety of methods including self-report measures, cognitive inhibition tasks, delay discounting and delay of gratification tasks, and persistence and willpower tasks. Although these are all theoretically linked to processes involved in self-control, recent evidence has shown that these diverse measurement techniques relate only minimally to one another. Assuming that self-control is a reflective construct, this would indicate that many of these tasks are poor indicators of self-control. The present research challenges the common assumption that self-control is a reflective construct and instead proposes that self-control is a formative construct. Conceptualizing self-control as a formative construct could reconcile some of the inconsistencies in the literature, in particular the fact that many indicators for self-control do not correlate highly. To examine the possibility of a formative model of self-control, this research examines 13 commonly used measures of self-control and investigates indicator intercorrelations, indicator relationships with the theoretical consequences of self-control, and performs a vanishing tetrad test (Bollen & Ting, 2000). Results show that in general, indicator intercorrelations are low and nonsignificant as well as indictor correlations with theorized construct consequences. The results of the vanishing tetrad test suggest a reflective interpretation of self-control, but concerns with uniformly low covariances between indicators limit the interpretation of this test.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.