RESEARCH PAPER
Perseverance and effectiveness of action: the effect of the fit between individual differences in willpower and the situational context
 
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Online publication date: 2014-02-23
 
Current Issues in Personality Psychology 2013;1(1):26–38
 
KEYWORDS
ABSTRACT
Background
Invoking the fit theory between a person and the environ­ment, the author of which is Lawrence A. Pervin, an attempt to explain the influence exerted by willpower differences and the situational context on perseverance and action effectiveness is made.

Participants and procedure
Two studies were conducted to test the effect of the situ­ational context and willpower differences on perseverance and action effectiveness. The first study involved
120 partici­pants (88 females and 32 males) between 17 and 19 years of age (M = 18.28; SD = 0.56). The researched group in the se­cond study included 230 participants (160 females and 70 males) between 20 and 53 years of age (M = 25.19; SD = 5.04). In the first study perseverance and action effectiveness were assessed on the basis of the performance level and the amount of time spent on the computer task. In the study 2 to evaluate the effectiveness used subjective progress assessment in achieving individual goals. In both of these studies, evoked a sense of autonomy vs. induced a sense of external control and the measurement of will-power differences was conducted on the basis of Kuhl’s ACS-90 questionnaire.

Results
The results of study 1 confirm that perseverance and action effectiveness in the case of people with low will­power level (state-oriented) is greater in conditions creating a sense of pressure/external control. In the case of people with high willpower (action-oriented), the method of influencing by the situational context is not of major significance to their perseverance and effectiveness. The results of study 2 show that intention implementation in conditions creating a sense of external control increases progress assessment in achieving goals declared by the state-oriented. However, no positive influence of in­tention implementation on the assessments of progress made by action-oriented individuals was confirmed.

Conclusions
The cumulative results of the two presented studies confirm that the perseverance and action effectiveness of people with low willpower (state-oriented) are determined by the specific kind of fit between personal predispositions and
the situational context. In turn, people with high willpower (action-oriented) act, to a larger extent, on the basis of internal regulatory mechanisms, somehow regardless of the way in which the situational context exerts an influence on them.
 
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