No Evidence of the Ego-Depletion Effect across Task Characteristics and Individual Differences: A Pre-Registered Study Public Deposited

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  • Ego-depletion, a psychological phenomenon in which participants are less able to engage in self-control after prior exertion of self-control, has become widely popular in the scientific community as well as in the media. However, considerable debate exists among researchers as to the nature of the ego-depletion effect, and growing evidence suggests the effect may not be as strong or robust as the extant literature suggests. We examined the robustness of the ego-depletion effect and aimed to maximize the likelihood of detecting the effect by using one of the most widely used depletion tasks (video-viewing attention control task) and by considering task characteristics and individual differences that potentially moderate the effect. We also sought to make our research plan transparent by pre-registering our hypotheses, procedure, and planned analyses prior to data collection. Contrary to the ego-depletion hypothesis, participants in the depletion condition did not perform worse than control participants on the subsequent self-control task, even after considering moderator variables. These findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting ego-depletion is not a reliable phenomenon, though more research is needed that uses large sample sizes, considers moderator variables, and pre-registers prior to data collection.
Date Issued
  • 2016-02-10
Academic Affiliation
Journal Title
Journal Issue/Number
  • 2
Journal Volume
  • 11
File Extent
  • 1-20
Last Modified
  • 2019-12-09
Resource Type
Rights Statement
  • 10.1371/journal.pone.0147770


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