Self-control is critically involved in myriad human behaviors. This dissertation features three studies that evaluate the relation between intelligence and self-control, and investigate potential reasons for this relation where it exists. The first study is a meta-analysis (N = 24 studies) that provides definitive evidence for a consistent link between intelligence (measured using various IQ tests) and delay discounting (a stable index of self-control that measures preference for smaller, sooner versus larger, later rewards). The second study uses behavioral and functional magnetic resonance imaging to further the research agenda established in the first study by identifying candidate mechanisms and processes that account for the link between delay discounting and intelligence. The findings suggest that intelligence and delay discounting are associated with one another because they both draw on processes that integrate products from abstract, cognitive subtasks. These processes are also important for working memory and are instantiated within the lateral anterior prefrontal cortex. The third study explores a potential link between fluid intelligence (reasoning ability) and self-control depletion, the extent of self-control impairment following an initial self-control task. In contrast to previous work, fluid intelligence was not related to depletion, nor were blood glucose levels, which have been hypothesized to play a major role in depletion. Collectively, the three studies provide insight into the processes that are important for self-control at different levels of analysis, and show that intelligence and self-control are partially overlapping but distinct constructs.
|Advisor:||Gray, Jeremy R.|
|School Location:||United States -- Connecticut|
|Source:||DAI-B 69/06, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Cognitive abilities, Delay discounting, Delay of gratification, Ego depletion, Intelligence, Self-control|
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