Self-control plays an important role in human’s daily life. In the recent two decades, scholars have exerted tremendous effort to examine the etiologies of the individual differences in self-control. Among numerous predictors of self-control, the role of culture has been relatively overlooked. In this study, the influences of cultural orientation on self-control were examined based on the collectivism-individualism framework using both self-report and behavioral task to assess self-control. A convenience sample of 542 Chinese and 446 U.S. undergraduates participated in the research. They were invited to fill out self-report questionnaires reporting their levels of attitudinal self-control and individualistic-collectivistic orientation after completing a computer-based Stroop task. Results of hierarchical regression models showed that Chinese participants reported less attitudinal self-control but had higher behavioral self-control than their U.S. counterparts. Moreover, individual-level individualism and collectivism was negatively and positively related to attitudinal self-control in both countries, respectively. Individual-level collectivism was significantly related to better behavioral self-control, but no significant results were found for the relationship between individual-level individualism and behavioral self-control. In sum, individualism and collectivism have some influences on individual differences in self-control. Implications for future research were discussed.

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Published in PLOS ONE, v.13, no. 12, e0208541, p. 1-14.

© 2018 Li et al.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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Funding Information

Kai Dou received support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NO. 31800938), http://www.nsfc.gov.cn/, the MOE (Ministry of Education in China) Project of Humanities and Social Sciences (No. 17YJCZH040), https://www.sinoss.net/, the Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province (NO. 2018A030313406), http://www.gdstc.gov.cn/, the 13th “Five-Year” Plan of Philosophy and Social Science of Guangdong Province (No. GD16YXL01), http://www.gdpplgopss.gov.cn/, and Guangzhou University’s training program for excellent new-recruited doctors (No. YB201707), http://www.gzhu.edu.cn/. Jian-Bin Li received support from the FEHD Internationalization & Exchange Research Scheme of the Education University of Hong Kong.

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All relevant data are in the paper and its Supporting Information files.

S1 File. Culture and self-control—Minimized data. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0208541.s001 (SAV)

journal.pone.0208541.s001.sav (155 kB)
S1 File. Culture and self-control—Minimized data.