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Title: Pitfalls of self-reported measures of self-control: Surprising insights from extreme debtors
Authors: Jia, Lile 
Yuen, Wei Lun 
Ong, Qiyan 
Theseira, Walter Edgar 
Keywords: credit debt
extreme populations
self-control failures
self-regulation measures
Issue Date: 25-May-2022
Publisher: WILEY
Citation: Jia, Lile, Yuen, Wei Lun, Ong, Qiyan, Theseira, Walter Edgar (2022-05-25). Pitfalls of self-reported measures of self-control: Surprising insights from extreme debtors. JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Objective: We took a rare opportunity to examine whether extreme debtors have inflated assessment of their self-control capacity, potentially rendering self-reported measures ineffective as prediction tools for debt risks. Method: The self-control profiles of extreme debtors (n = 1442), whose credit card debt amounted to more than 12 months of their income, were compared with samples of the general population (n = 505) and students from an elite university (n = 1011) on a self-reported measure, a behavioral intention measure, and an executive function measure. Results: Extreme debtors reported the highest self-control on the self-reported measure but scored the lowest on the behavioral intention measure and executive function. This pattern was robust across different subsections of demographics and diverse reasons of indebtedness. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that self-reported measures may be more susceptible to psychological distortions than behavioral measures, a pitfall that past research has overlooked. Furthermore, we reveal a double whammy faced by extreme debtors: they have a low capacity to regulate their behavior but hold an illusory perception of high capacity, which may expose them to further debt accumulation. The insights from our study underscore the utility of examining extreme segments of the population for advancing psychological knowledge.
ISSN: 0022-3506
DOI: 10.1111/jopy.12733
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