scispace - formally typeset

Journal ArticleDOI

Prior self-control exertion and perceptions of pain during a physically demanding task

01 Nov 2017-Psychology of Sport and Exercise (Elsevier)-Vol. 33, pp 1-6

AbstractObjectives Exertion of self-control has been associated with impaired performance on subsequent physical tasks also requiring self-control, but it remains unknown why this occurs. This study, therefore, explored whether a) prior self-control exertion reduces subsequent persistence on a physically demanding task, and b) whether any observed performance decrements could be explained by changes in perceptions of pain. Method In a within-subject design, sixty-three individuals completed an easy (congruent) Stroop task or a difficult (incongruent) Stroop task that required self-control. Participants were then required to remain in a physically demanding posture (i.e., a ‘wall-sit’) until voluntary exhaustion and their perception of pain was recorded during the task. Results When participants completed the difficult Stroop task, they quit the wall-sit sooner. This decrement in performance was explained by greater perceptions of pain at the beginning of the wall-sit. Conclusions Perceptions of pain may, therefore, be an important attentional mechanism explaining why self-control use interferes with subsequent persistence during physically effortful tasks.

Summary (2 min read)

Protocol

  • Each participant took part in two experimental sessions.
  • Participants were then familiarized with the wall-sit procedure.
  • Participants were then administered a computerized version of the Stroop task.
  • Color words were presented on a screen and participants were required to read aloud the color of the print ink and ignore the text of each word presented.
  • Prior to the actual test, participants completed a practice session lasting 30 seconds to acquaint with the task.

Measures

  • Daily stress was assessed using the seven stem questions from the Daily Inventory of Stressful Events Questionnaire (Almeida, Wethington, & Kessler, 2002) .
  • Participants were instructed to indicate whether any of a number of stressful events had occurred today by circling either 'yes' or 'no' (e.g., "An argument or disagreement with someone").
  • The item scores have demonstrated acceptable internal consistency and predictive validity in previous research (Almeida et al., 2002) .

SELF-CONTROL AND PERCEIVED PAIN 9

  • Physical fatigue was measured using two items from the fatigue subscale from the Profile of Mood States (McNair, Lorr, & Droppleman, 1992; i.e., "I feel physically worn out" and "I feel physically exhausted").
  • These items were selected based on high factor loadings in previous research and acceptable reliability (e.g., Beedie, Terry, & Lane, 2000) .
  • Participants rated their mental exertion during the Stroop task using Borg's single-item CR-10 scale (Borg, 1998 ; 0 = extremely weak; 10 = absolute maximum).
  • This single item measure has been shown to be a valid measure in previous research (e.g. McEwan et al., 2013) .

Perceptions of pain.

  • Participants' current pain perception was measured using the short-form McGill pain questionnaire (SF-MPQ; Melzack, 1987) , which consists of three subscales.
  • Next, participants completed the Visual Analog scale from the SF-MPQ; a 10-centimeter line, where one end represented no pain and the other end represented the worst pain.
  • Participants completed a subscale of pain measurement at 15 second intervals for the entire duration of the wall-sit task.
  • This same order was subsequently repeated throughout the wall-sit.
  • Intervals of 15 seconds were employed to allow participants enough time to answer the items from each subscale and a period of rest before the following subscale was presented.

Preliminary Analysis

  • The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS; Version 22.0) was used for all statistical analyses.
  • Table 1 displays descriptive statistics for each variable across each experimental condition.
  • The Cronbach alpha coefficients for the Daily Inventory of Stressful Events Questionnaire and physical fatigue subscale ranged between .62 -.76 across the two trials.
  • Based on these results, it was not necessary to control for stress or fatigue in the main analysis.

SELF-CONTROL AND PERCEIVED PAIN 11

  • A mixed one-way ANOVA was conducted to evaluate the impact of exerting selfcontrol on wall sit performance (within-subjects; hypothesis 1) as well as examine order effects (between-subjects) on performance.
  • Variances and covariances were homogeneous across trials (all Levene's tests and Box's tests p > .05).
  • Five thousand bootstrap samples were used in the present study.

Discussion

  • The present study explored the effects of exerting self-control on a subsequent physical task requiring self-control and whether any observed performance decrements could be explained by an individual's perceptions of pain.
  • The results provide yet more evidence that when participants are required to perform two consecutive acts of self-control, diminished performance on the second task ensues (Hagger et al., 2010) .
  • Self-control use quickly brought about a state of elevated distress and attentional priorities shifted towards the pain relatively early in the wall-sit task (Elkins-Brown, Teper, & Inzlicht, 2016; Inzlicht, Schmeichel, & Macrae, 2014) .
  • It is important to highlight that the VAS scores appeared to be driving the observed differences in perceptions of pain, compared to the sensory and affective pain scores.
  • From a sporting perspective, this study unearths a potentially critical explanation for intra-individual variation in performance.

Limitations

  • There are some study limitations worth noting.
  • Numerous steps to eliminate any potential problems associated with bias were taken; for instance, the experimenter read the instructions for all tasks from a pre-prepared text to reduce the variability in the delivery of the instructions (Dorris et al., 2012) .
  • Furthermore, performance on the initial self-control task was not assessed.
  • Previous research has repeatedly shown that self-control manipulation does not affect mood (e.g., Englert & Bertrams, 2012; Muraven et al., 1998) .

Conclusion

  • The present study provides further evidence that initial self-control exertion reduces performance on a physical task.
  • Furthermore, the results make an important contribution to the self-control literature by highlighting that perceptions of pain may be a critical attentional mechanism explaining why self-control exertion interferes with subsequent persistence during physically effortful tasks.

Did you find this useful? Give us your feedback

...read more

Content maybe subject to copyright    Report

Running head: SELF-CONTROL AND PERCEIVED PAIN
1
2
3
4
Prior self-control exertion and perceptions of pain during a physically demanding task
5
6
Manuscript Submitted: December 20
th
, 2016
7
Manuscript Resubmitted: 16
th
June, 2017
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25

SELF-CONTROL AND PERCEIVED PAIN 2
Abstract
26
Objectives
27
Exertion of self-control has been associated with impaired performance on subsequent
28
physical tasks also requiring self-control, but it remains unknown why this occurs. This
29
study, therefore, explored whether a) prior self-control exertion reduces subsequent
30
persistence on a physically demanding task, and b) whether any observed performance
31
decrements could be explained by changes in perceptions of pain.
32
Method
33
In a within-subject design, sixty-three individuals completed an easy (congruent)
34
Stroop task or a difficult (incongruent) Stroop task that required self-control. Participants
35
were then required to remain in a physically demanding posture (i.e., a ‘wall-sit’) until
36
voluntary exhaustion and their perception of pain was recorded during the task.
37
Results
38
When participants completed the difficult Stroop task, they quit the wall-sit sooner.
39
This decrement in performance was explained by greater perceptions of pain at the beginning
40
of the wall-sit.
41
Conclusions
42
Perceptions of pain may, therefore, be an important attentional mechanism explaining
43
why self-control use interferes with subsequent persistence during physically effortful tasks.
44
Keywords: self-regulation, ego depletion, pain tolerance, physical performance
45
46
47
48
49

SELF-CONTROL AND PERCEIVED PAIN 3
Prior self-control exertion and perceptions of pain during a physically demanding task
50
Self-control has been defined as the process of volitionally controlling and overriding
51
predominant, habitual tendencies in order to achieve a specific goal (Baumeister, Vohs, &
52
Tice, 2007). This process enables individuals to initiate or inhibit particular responses, attend
53
to stimuli, and engage in purposeful, effortful, and goal-directed behaviors (Baumeister,
54
Heatherton, & Tice, 1994). The capacity to exert self-control can differ between individuals
55
(i.e., trait self-control), as well as within individuals across situations (i.e., state self-control;
56
Tangney, Baumeister, & Boone, 2004). Regarding the latter, meta-analytic evidence has
57
shown that, following the exertion of self-control on one task, individuals typically have an
58
impaired ability to self-regulate when performing a subsequent second task, even if this task
59
is drawn from a different domain (Hagger, Wood, Stiff, & Chatzisarantis, 2010). Some
60
researchers, however, have questioned the existence of this depletion effect and suggested
61
that it is not a real phenomenon (Carter, Kofler, Forster, & McCullough, 2015).
62
Despite the controversies within the literature, considerable research has demonstrated
63
that self-control use can lead to impaired performance on subsequent physical tasks also
64
requiring self-control. One task that has been frequently employed to explore this effect is
65
squeezing an isometric handgrip for as long as possible (e.g., Muraven, Tice, & Baumeister,
66
1998; Muraven & Shmueli, 2006; Tice, Baumeister, Shmueli, & Muraven, 2007). Although
67
this task requires muscular endurance, overcoming fatigue or pain and overriding the urge to
68
quit are acts of self-control and mental persistence (Muraven et al., 1998). Following the
69
completion of a task requiring self-control (incongruent Stroop task), individuals persisted
70
less at squeezing an isometric handgrip, compared to when they completed a task requiring
71
no self-control (congruent Stroop task; Bray, Graham, Martin Ginis, & Hicks, 2011; Bray,
72
Martin Ginis, Hicks, & Woodgate, 2008). This is substantively interesting because one could
73
assume that the underlying self-control mechanisms involved in overriding learned responses
74

SELF-CONTROL AND PERCEIVED PAIN 4
in the Stroop task are different to those required to overcome pain and persist in the handgrip
75
task. Despite these differences, employment of the former type of self-control still effects the
76
latter, suggesting the same mechanism is responsible for a large variety of self-control tasks
77
(Baumeister et al., 2007). Indeed, psychometric and neurological evidence points to
78
considerable overlap between the inability to attend to difficult cognitive tasks (e.g.,
79
incongruent Stroop tasks) and the inability to resist strong impulses (e.g., pain avoidance;
80
Duckworth & Kern, 2011; Steinberg, 2008).
81
Callisthenic measures of physical action have also been employed so that assumptions
82
concerning more complex human performance can be formulated. For instance, following a
83
cognitively demanding task, competitive athletes performed significantly worse on a sit-up
84
task compared to when they completed a cognitively simple task (Dorris, Power, & Kenefick,
85
2012). The ability for self-control exertion to reduce subsequent physical endurance
86
performance has been substantiated during cycling tasks (e.g., Boat, Taylor, & Hulston, 2017;
87
Englert & Wolff, 2015; Martin Ginis & Bray, 2011; Wagstaff, 2014). Clearly, self-control
88
seems to be crucial in order to be able to achieve high levels of physical performance that
89
require prolonged effort. What is unknown and, therefore, the focus of the present study is
90
why self-control is diminished following prior use. Understanding the causal explanations
91
would provide a more complete model of self-control.
92
A number of theories have been proposed to explain self-regulatory failures following
93
previous exertion of self-control. Some researchers have suggested that self-control is a
94
limited resource; therefore, prior acts of self-control can lead to a temporary loss of self-
95
control strength in subsequent acts (Baumeister, Bratslavsky, Muraven, & Tice 1998). This
96
hypothesis has come under severe criticism (e.g., Kurzban, 2010; Lange & Eggert, 2014). An
97
alternative perspective is the shifting priorities model of self-control, which is centred on
98
motivational and attentional processes (Inzlicht & Schmeichel. 2016; Milyavskaya &
99

SELF-CONTROL AND PERCEIVED PAIN 5
Inzlicht, 2017). Self-control fades as a result of a subjective valuation process, whereby distal
100
and proximal goal choices are continuously assessed (Berkman, Livingston, Kahn, &
101
Inzlicht, 2015). Following the use of self-control, attention and motivation shifts to the extent
102
that the value of exerting further self-control in pursuit of the distal goal diminishes, while the
103
value of conceding to the tempting proximal goal is increased (De Witte Huberts, Evers, & de
104
Ridder, 2014; Kool & Botvinick, 2014). Ultimately, self-control represents a decision to exert
105
effort to resist a tempting proximal goal in favour of a distal goal (Milyavskaya & Inzlicht,
106
2017).
107
Many of the physical or athletic tasks that have been utilized previously are
108
unpleasant and induce considerable levels of discomfort and pain (e.g., Boat et al., 2017;
109
Bray et al., 2008; 2011; Dorris et al., 2012; Englert & Wolff, 2015). A fundamental function
110
of pain is to disturb and galvanize attention (Eccleston & Crombez, 1999). This provides an
111
opportunity to use participants’ perceptions of pain during physical tasks as an indicator of
112
attentional shift concordant with the ‘shifting priorities’ perspective. We propose that self-
113
control exertion leads to an attentional shift towards perceptions of pain during subsequent
114
endurance tasks. This leads to increasing focus on the proximal goal (quitting or reducing
115
effort to relieve the pain), relative to the distal goal (persisting on the task to maximize
116
performance), resulting in reduced performance. In other words, perceptions of pain may
117
explain why self-control exertion interferes with subsequent performance on a physical task.
118
Individuals with higher levels of trait self-control persisted longer when required to submerge
119
their hand in painfully cold water for as long as possible, compared to those participants with
120
lower levels of trait self-control (Schmeichel & Zell, 2007). However, this does not explain
121
why a bout of self-control use reduces subsequent physical performance.
122
Extending the literature described above, the aims of the current research were to
123
determine whether exerting self-control a) reduces performance and b) increases perceptions
124

Citations
More filters

Journal ArticleDOI
Scott Davidson1
TL;DR: This column looks back at the days when the authors had direct, tactile control of their appliances and wonders what impact the loss of this control is having on their children's interest in engineering.
Abstract: This column looks back at the days when we had direct, tactile control of our appliances and wonders what impact the loss of this control is having on our children's interest in engineering. Increased complexity in our work life also leads to our feeling this lack of direct control. Yet, perhaps it's a mistake to pine for those days of direct control. Maybe our children's ability to find and fix a problem by its symptoms will be essential for testing the products of the future.

129 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: It is demonstrated that cognitive exertion has a negative effect on subsequent physical performance that is not due to chance and suggest that previous meta-analysis results may have underestimated the overall effect.
Abstract: An emerging body of the literature in the past two decades has generally shown that prior cognitive exertion is associated with a subsequent decline in physical performance. Two parallel, but overlapping, bodies of literature (i.e., ego depletion, mental fatigue) have examined this question. However, research to date has not merged these separate lines of inquiry to assess the overall magnitude of this effect. The present work reports the results of a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis examining carryover effects of cognitive exertion on physical performance. A systematic search of MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and SPORTDiscus was conducted. Only randomized controlled trials involving healthy humans, a central executive task requiring cognitive exertion, an easier cognitive comparison task, and a physical performance task were included. A total of 73 studies provided 91 comparisons with 2581 participants. Random effects meta-analysis showed a significant small-to-medium negative effect of prior cognitive exertion on physical performance (g = − 0.38 [95% CI − 0.46, − 0.31]). Subgroup analyses showed that cognitive tasks lasting < 30-min (g = − 0.45) and ≥ 30-min (g = − 0.30) have similar significant negative effects on subsequent physical performance. Prior cognitive exertion significantly impairs isometric resistance (g = − 0.57), motor (g = − 0.57), dynamic resistance (g = − 0.51), and aerobic performance (g = − 0.26), but the effects on maximal anaerobic performance are trivial and non-significant (g = 0.10). Studies employing between-subject designs showed a medium negative effect (g = − 0.65), whereas within-subject designs had a small negative effect (g = − 0.28). Findings demonstrate that cognitive exertion has a negative effect on subsequent physical performance that is not due to chance and suggest that previous meta-analysis results may have underestimated the overall effect.

42 citations



Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Two independent lines of research propose that exertion of mental effort can impair subsequent performance due to ego depletion or mental fatigue. In this meta-analysis, we unite these research fields to facilitate a greater exchange between the two, to summarize the extant literature and to highlight open questions. We performed a meta-analysis to quantify the effect of ego-depletion and mental fatigue on subsequent physical endurance performance (42 independent effect sizes). We found that ego-depletion or mental fatigue leads to a reduction in subsequent physical endurance performance (ES = -0.506 [95% CI: -0.649, -0.369]) and that the duration of prior mental effort exertion did not predict the magnitude of subsequent performance impairment (r = -0.043). Further, analyses revealed that effects of prior mental exertion are more pronounced in subsequent tasks that use isolation tasks (e.g., handgrip; ES = -0.719 [-0.946, -0.493]) compared to whole-body endurance tasks (e.g. cycling; coefficient = 0.338 [0.057, 0.621]) and that the observed reduction in performance is higher when the person-situation fit is low (ES for high person-situation fit = -0.355 [-0.529, -0.181], coefficient for low person-situation fit = -0.336 [-0.599, -0.073]). Taken together, the aggregate of the published literature on ego depletion or mental fatigue indicates that prior mental exertion is detrimental to subsequent physical endurance performance. However, this analysis also highlights several open questions regarding the effects’ mechanisms and moderators. Particularly, the surprising finding that the duration of prior mental exertion seems to be unrelated to subsequent performance impairment needs to be addressed systematically.

30 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: Self-control is a burgeoning research topic within sport and motivational psychology. Following efforts to define and contextualize self-control, characteristics of self-control are considered that have important implications for sport performance. We describe and evaluate various theoretical perspectives on self-control, including limited resources, shifting priorities, and opportunity-costs. The research described includes sport-specific research but also studies that focus on general motivational principles that look beyond sport-specific phenomena. We propose that attentional, rather than limited resource, explanations of self-control have more value for athletic performance. Moreover, we integrate self-control ideas with descriptions of motivational phenomena to derive novel hypotheses concerning how self-control can be optimized during sport performance. We explain how minimizing desire-goal conflicts by fusing self-control processes and performance goals can delay aversive consequences of self-control that may impede performance. We also suggest that autonomous performance goals are an important motivational input that enhances the effectiveness of self-control processes by a) reducing the salience of the desire to reduce performance-related discomfort, b) increasing attentional resources towards optimal performance, and c) optimizing monitoring and modification of self-control processes. These extensions to knowledge help map out empirical agenda which may drive theoretical advances and deepen understanding of how to improve self-control during performance.

22 citations


Cites background from "Prior self-control exertion and per..."

  • ...For instance, participants reported greater perception of pain and reduced persistence during a postural endurance task following self-control exertion, compared to when they did not initially exert self-control (Boat & Taylor, 2017)....

    [...]

  • ...For instance, considerable evidence has accumulated from sport researchers demonstrating attentional (e.g. Boat & Taylor, 2017; Englert, Bertrams et al., 2015) and perceptual shifts (Marcora et al., 2009; Pageaux et al., 2014) following self-control exertion, as well as the self-control control…...

    [...]


References
More filters

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: G*Power 3 provides improved effect size calculators and graphic options, supports both distribution-based and design-based input modes, and offers all types of power analyses in which users might be interested.
Abstract: G*Power (Erdfelder, Faul, & Buchner, 1996) was designed as a general stand-alone power analysis program for statistical tests commonly used in social and behavioral research. G*Power 3 is a major extension of, and improvement over, the previous versions. It runs on widely used computer platforms (i.e., Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Mac OS X 10.4) and covers many different statistical tests of thet, F, and χ2 test families. In addition, it includes power analyses forz tests and some exact tests. G*Power 3 provides improved effect size calculators and graphic options, supports both distribution-based and design-based input modes, and offers all types of power analyses in which users might be interested. Like its predecessors, G*Power 3 is free.

30,063 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Tests for curvilinearity failed to indicate any drawbacks of so-called overcontrol, and the positive effects remained after controlling for social desirability, so low self-control is a significant risk factor for a broad range of personal and interpersonal problems.
Abstract: What good is self-control? We incorporated a new measure of individual differences in self-control into two large investigations of a broad spectrum of behaviors. The new scale showed good internal consistency and retest reliability. Higher scores on self-control correlated with a higher grade point average, better adjustment (fewer reports of psychopathology, higher self-esteem), less binge eating and alcohol abuse, better relationships and interpersonal skills, secure attachment, and more optimal emotional responses. Tests for curvilinearity failed to indicate any drawbacks of so-called overcontrol, and the positive effects remained after controlling for social desirability. Low self-control is thus a significant risk factor for a broad range of personal and interpersonal problems.

4,269 citations


"Prior self-control exertion and per..." refers methods in this paper

  • ...Given previous evidence 161 (e.g., Englert & Rummel, 2016; Tangney et al., 2004) and the nature of the wall-sit 162 experimental task, participants first completed questionnaires to control for the influence of 163 daily stress and physical fatigue (see measures section)....

    [...]


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The results suggest that the self's capacity for active volition is limited and that a range of seemingly different, unrelated acts share a common resource.
Abstract: Choice, active response, self-regulation, and other volition may all draw on a common inner resource. In Experiment 1, people who forced themselves to eat radishes instead of tempting chocolates subsequently quit faster on unsolvable puzzles than people who had not had to exert self-control over eating. In Experiment 2, making a meaningful personal choice to perform attitude-relevant behavior caused a similar decrement in persistence. In Experiment 3, suppressing emotion led to a subsequent drop in performance of solvable anagrams. In Experiment 4, an initial task requiring high self-regulation made people more passive (i.e., more prone to favor the passive-response option). These results suggest that the self's capacity for active volition is limited and that a range of seemingly different, unrelated acts share a common resource.

3,954 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Ronald Melzack1
01 Aug 1987-Pain
TL;DR: The SF‐MPQ shows promise as a useful tool in situations in which the standard MPQ takes too long to administer, yet qualitative information is desired and the PPI and VAS are inadequate.
Abstract: A short form of the McGill Pain Questionnaire (SF-MPQ) has been developed. The main component of the SF-MPQ consists of 15 descriptors (11 sensory; 4 affective) which are rated on an intensity scale as 0 = none, 1 = mild, 2 = moderate or 3 = severe. Three pain scores are derived from the sum of the intensity rank values of the words chosen for sensory, affective and total descriptors. The SF-MPQ also includes the Present Pain Intensity (PPI) index of the standard MPQ and a visual analogue scale (VAS). The SF-MPQ scores obtained from patients in post-surgical and obstetrical wards and physiotherapy and dental departments were compared to the scores obtained with the standard MPQ. The correlations were consistently high and significant. The SF-MPQ was also shown to be sufficiently sensitive to demonstrate differences due to treatment at statistical levels comparable to those obtained with the standard form. The SF-MPQ shows promise as a useful tool in situations in which the standard MPQ takes too long to administer, yet qualitative information is desired and the PPI and VAS are inadequate.

3,654 citations


"Prior self-control exertion and per..." refers methods in this paper

  • ...Participants’ current pain perception was measured using the 211 short-form McGill pain questionnaire (SF-MPQ; Melzack, 1987), which consists of three 212 subscales....

    [...]


Book
15 Aug 1998
Abstract: Dr. Gunnar Borg introduced the field of perceived exertion in the 1950s. His ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) scale is used worldwide by professionals in medicine, exercise physiology, psychology, cardiology, ergonomy, and sports. Now, Dr. Borg presents the definitive source for using the latest RPE and CR10 scales correctly. "Borg's Perceived Exertion and Pain Scales" begins with an overview and history to introduce readers to the field of perceived exertion. The book then covers principles of scaling and applications of both the RPE and the CR10 scaling methods.This user-friendly, informative, and readable text-discusses the fundamental bases of perceived exertion, -presents information on uses and misuses of the scales, and-provides guidance and direction on how and when to measure subjective somatic symptoms.A special appendix in the back of the book includes tear-out cards containing three RPE scales and three CR10 scales. A scale and instructions for how the scale is used are printed on each two-sided card. "Borg's Perceived Exertion and Pain Scales" is the complete theoretical and methodological guide to the field of human perception.

3,149 citations


"Prior self-control exertion and per..." refers methods in this paper

  • ...Participants rated their mental exertion during the Stroop task using 207 Borg’s single-item CR-10 scale (Borg, 1998; 0 = extremely weak; 10 = absolute maximum)....

    [...]


Frequently Asked Questions (1)
Q1. What are the contributions in this paper?

This 29 study, therefore, explored whether a ) prior self-control exertion reduces subsequent 30 persistence on a physically demanding task, and b ) whether any observed performance 31 decrements could be explained by changes in perceptions of pain.