Failure to replicate depletion of self-control

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Abstract

The limited resource or strength model of self-control posits that the use of self-regulatory resources leads to depletion and poorer performance on subsequent self-control tasks. We conducted four studies (two with community samples, two with young adult samples) utilizing a frequently used depletion procedure (crossing out letters protocol) and the two most frequently used dependent measures of self-control (handgrip perseverance and modified Stroop). In each study, participants completed a baseline self-control measure, a depletion or control task (randomized), and then the same measure of self-control a second time. There was no evidence for significant depletion effects in any of these four studies. The null results obtained in four attempts to replicate using strong methodological approaches may indicate that depletion has more limited effects than implied by prior publications. We encourage further efforts to replicate depletion (particularly among community samples) with full disclosure of positive and negative results. Copyright:

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Xu, X., Demos, K. E., Leahey, T. M., Hart, C. N., Trautvetter, J., Coward, P., … Wing, R. R. (2014). Failure to replicate depletion of self-control. PLoS ONE, 9(10). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0109950

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