Do Behavioral Measures of Self-Control Assess Construct-Level Variance?

Document Type


Publication Date



A wide range of measures have been used to assess self-control including executive function tasks, delay of gratification tasks, and persistence and willpower tasks. The current study sought to examine the convergent and predictive validity of these measures, provide theoretical backing for why we might or might not expect high correlations between different indicators of the construct, and question whether such measures are assessing construct-level variance. The results largely replicated prior research, with the majority of correlations being small in magnitude and non-significant. Possible interpretations include indicators assessing distinct and unrelated subdomains of self-control, the inappropriate use of measures that maximize within person variance, indicators being plagued by large sources of error variance, or some combination of these.