Ego Depletion: Theory and Evidence

Mark Muraven

in The Oxford Handbook of Human Motivation

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780195399820
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Ego Depletion: Theory and Evidence

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Self-control all too often fails. Despite people's best intentions and considerable negative outcomes, people often find themselves at the losing end of resisting temptation, combating urges, and changing their behavior. One reason for these failures may be that exerting self-control depletes a limited resource (ego depletion) that is necessary for the success of self-control. Hence, after exerting self-control individuals are less able to resist temptations, fight urges, or stop a behavior, which results in a loss of self-control. This chapter reviews the evidence for this theory in a wide variety of domains and examines what behaviors appear to deplete ego strength and how depletion affects behavior. A comprehensive theory that examines how depletion operates is put forth and this theory is used to examine some factors that might moderate the depletion effect.

Keywords: self-control; ego depletion; willpower; motivation

Article.  12544 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology ; Health Psychology

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