Helpful Self-Control: Autonomy Support, Vitality, and Depletion.
Why someone exerts self-control may influence how depleting a task is. Feeling compelled to exert self-control require more self-control strength than exerting self-control for more autonomous reasons. Across three experiments, individuals whose autonomy was supported while exerting self-control performed better on a subsequent test of self-control as compared to individuals who had more pressure placed upon them while exerting self-control. The differences in self-control performance were not due to anxiety, stress, unpleasantness, or reduced motivation among the controlled participants. Additional analyses suggested that the decline in self-control performance was mediated by subjective vitality. Feelings of autonomy support lead to enhanced feelings of subjective vitality. This increased vitality may help replenish lost ego-strength, which lead to better self-control performance subsequently.