Self-control & construal-level in food-related decisions of female college students


Author/Creator ORCID




Towson University. Department of Psychology


Citation of Original Publication




This study focuses on understanding how construal level theory functions during decision-making recall and in the absence of priming. Participants were 17 female college students aged 18-25 who self-identified as having attempted to change eating behaviors at some point in their lives. Participants were interviewed about two decisions from the past week, one perceived as “good” and one perceived as “poor,” along with a series of broad questions about their goals and values. Thematic analysis focused on how participants construed their goals within the decision-making context and independent of the decision-making context. Participant goals fell into seven distinct themes of weight, healthy lifestyle, self-concept, good/bad dichotomy, convenience, feeling good, and portion control. Of the themes mentioned when discussing context dependent goals, weight, healthy lifestyle, self-concept, and good/bad dichotomy overlapped with themes discussed when participants were prompted to talk about goals independently of the decision-making context. When recalling “poor” decisions, participant responses fell into three themes: negatively related to goals, the opposite of their goals, and budget. The results suggest that goals, a feature of high construal thinking, were more available when participants were recalling “good” compared to “poor” decisions.