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. 2010 Nov;21(11):1686-93.
doi: 10.1177/0956797610384745. Epub 2010 Sep 28.

Ego Depletion--Is It All in Your Head? Implicit Theories About Willpower Affect Self-Regulation

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Ego Depletion--Is It All in Your Head? Implicit Theories About Willpower Affect Self-Regulation

Veronika Job et al. Psychol Sci. .

Abstract

Much recent research suggests that willpower--the capacity to exert self-control--is a limited resource that is depleted after exertion. We propose that whether depletion takes place or not depends on a person's belief about whether willpower is a limited resource. Study 1 found that individual differences in lay theories about willpower moderate ego-depletion effects: People who viewed the capacity for self-control as not limited did not show diminished self-control after a depleting experience. Study 2 replicated the effect, manipulating lay theories about willpower. Study 3 addressed questions about the mechanism underlying the effect. Study 4, a longitudinal field study, found that theories about willpower predict change in eating behavior, procrastination, and self-regulated goal striving in depleting circumstances. Taken together, the findings suggest that reduced self-control after a depleting task or during demanding periods may reflect people's beliefs about the availability of willpower rather than true resource depletion.

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