Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Low self-control promotes selfless behavior in close relationships

Date:
June 27, 2013
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
When faced with the choice of sacrificing time and energy for a loved one or taking the self-centered route, people's first impulse is to think of others, according to new research.

When faced with the choice of sacrificing time and energy for a loved one or taking the self-centered route, people's first impulse is to think of others, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Related Articles


"For decades psychologists have assumed that the first impulse is selfish and that it takes self-control to behave in a pro-social manner," says lead researcher Francesca Righetti of VU University Amsterdam in the Netherlands. "We did not believe that this was true in every context, and especially not in close relationships."

Righetti and colleagues sought to examine whether impulsivity, in close relationships, might actually benefit others.

They found that participants whose self-control was taxed (and were thus more impulsive) were more willing to sacrifice time and energy for their romantic partner or best friend than participants whose self-control wasn't taxed.

In one study, to find out whether they would sacrifice in actual practice, the researchers told couples they would have to talk to 12 strangers and ask them embarrassing questions. The participants didn't know that they wouldn't actually have to follow through with the task.

Participants with high self-control opted to split the burden right down the middle -- assigning six strangers to themselves and six strangers to their partner. But participants with low self-control opted to take on more of the burden, sacrificing their own comfort to spare their partners.

A final experiment revealed that married individuals low in trait self-control sacrificed more for their partners, yet were also less forgiving of their transgressions -- presumably because self-control is required to override the focus on the wrongdoing and think instead about the relationship as a whole.

While sacrificing for a partner may help to build the relationship on a day-to-day basis, Righetti and colleagues note that it could backfire over the long-term, compromising individuals' ability to maintain a balance between personal and relationship-related concerns.

This balance is a perennial issue for anyone in a close relationship:

"Whether it's about which activities to engage in during free time, whose friends to go out with, or which city to live in, relationship partners often face a divergence of interests -- what is most preferred by one partner is not preferred by the other," notes Righetti.

The field of research is relatively new, so the jury is still out on what effects sacrifice has on relationship well-being, but Righetti is hopeful that research over the next few years will shed more light on the link.

Co-authors on this research include Catrin Finkenauer, also of VU University Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and Eli Finkel of Northwestern University.

This research was supported by grants from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. F. Righetti, C. Finkenauer, E. J. Finkel. Low Self-Control Promotes the Willingness to Sacrifice in Close Relationships. Psychological Science, 2013; DOI: 10.1177/0956797613475457

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Low self-control promotes selfless behavior in close relationships." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130627142553.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2013, June 27). Low self-control promotes selfless behavior in close relationships. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 5, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130627142553.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Low self-control promotes selfless behavior in close relationships." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130627142553.htm (accessed March 5, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Former NFL Players Donate Brains to Science

Former NFL Players Donate Brains to Science

Reuters - US Online Video (Mar. 3, 2015) Super Bowl champions Sidney Rice and Steve Weatherford donate their brains, post-mortem, to scientific research into repetitive brain trauma. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alzheimer's Protein Plaque Found In 20-Year-Olds

Alzheimer's Protein Plaque Found In 20-Year-Olds

Newsy (Mar. 3, 2015) Researchers found an abnormal protein associated with Alzheimer&apos;s disease in the brains of 20-year-olds. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Nasal Treatment Could Help Ease Migraine Pain

This Nasal Treatment Could Help Ease Migraine Pain

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) Researchers gave lidocaine to 112 patients, and about 88 percent of the subjects said they needed less migraine-relief medicine the next day. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Facebook Use Can Lead To Depression

How Facebook Use Can Lead To Depression

Newsy (Mar. 1, 2015) Margaret Duffy of the University of Missouri talks about her study on the social network and the envy and depression that Facebook use can cause. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins