Too much of a good thing? Exploring the inverted-U relationship between self-control and happiness.
OBJECTIVE: Can having too much self-control make people unhappy? Researchers have increasingly questioned the unilateral goodness of self-control and proposed that it is beneficial only up to a certain point, after which it becomes detrimental. The little empirical research on the issue shows mixed results. Hence, we tested whether a curvilinear relationship between self-control and subjective well-being exists. METHOD: We used multiple metrics (questionnaires, behavioral ratings), sources (self-report, other-report), and methods (cross-sectional measurement, dayreconstruction method, experience sampling method) across six studies (Ntotal = 5,318). RESULTS: We found that self-control positively predicted subjective well-being (cognitive and affective), but there was little evidence for an inverted U-shaped curve. The results held after statistically controlling for demographics and other psychological confounds. CONCLUSION: Our main finding is that self-control enhances subjective well-being with little to no apparent downside of too much self-control.