Self-Regulatory Processes in Striving for Identity Goals: Self-Incompleteness Shields Eco-Friendly Vegans From Temptations

Klaudia Sorys, Katarzyna Cantarero, Peter M. Gollwitzer, Katarzyna Byrka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Grounded in the symbolic self-completion theory, the present research expands previous findings by testing the self-regulatory processes behind self-(in)completeness states. We hypothesized that the experience of incompleteness in the identity goal of being an eco-friendly vegan leads to refraining from temptations allowing us to realize a hedonic goal. The experience of completeness, in contrast, was expected to prompt succumbing to temptations. We examined these effects for multiple decisions on a number of temptations following sequentially. Study 1 demonstrated that eco-friendly vegans who experienced incompleteness were less likely to choose nonecological, attractive food products than vegans who experienced completeness and those who were in the control group. This effect was strongest for the first dish presented in a series of choices. In Study 2, we confirmed the findings of Study 1, showing that the effect was observed regardless of what dish was first presented. Additionally, we found that the effect of self-(in)completeness states held when controlling for relevant individual differences, that is, trait self-control and the pursuit of pleasure. We propose new avenues for research on self-completion theory in the contexts of self-regulation, temptations, and individual differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-228
Number of pages13
JournalMotivation Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 27 2023


  • identity goals
  • self-completion
  • self-control
  • self-regulation
  • temptations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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