Jelte M. Wicherts
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.
Lurquin, John H.; Michaelson, Laura E.; Barker, Jane E.; Gustavson, Daniel E.; von Bastian, Claudia C.; Carruth, Nicholas P.; and Miyake, Akira, "No Evidence of the Ego-Depletion Effect across Task Characteristics and Individual Differences: A Pre-Registered Study" (2016). University Libraries Open Access Fund Supported Publications. 26.