Improved self-control: The benefits of a regular program of academic study

Megan Oaten*, Ken Cheng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

192 Citations (Scopus)


Academic examination stress impairs regulatory behavior by consuming self-control strength (Oaten & Cheng, 2005). In this study, we tested whether a study intervention program, a form of repeated practice of self-control, could improve regulatory strength and dampen the debilitating effects of exam stress. We assessed 2 cohorts at baseline and again at the commencement of exams. Without any intervention, we replicated our previous findings of deteriorations in regulatory behaviors at exam time. Students receiving the study program, however, showed significant improvement in self-regulatory capacity as shown by an enhanced performance on a visual tracking task following a thought-suppression task. During examinations, these participants also reported significant decreases in smoking, alcohol, and caffeine consumption and an increase in healthy eating, emotional control, maintenance of household chores, attendance to commitments, monitoring of spending, and an improvement in study habits. Hence, the study program not only overcame deficits caused by exam stress but actually led to improvements in self-control even during exam time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalBasic and Applied Social Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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