Self-control relies on glucose as a limited energy source: willpower is more than a metaphor.
ABSTRACT The present work suggests that self-control relies on glucose as a limited energy source. Laboratory tests of self-control (i.e., the Stroop task, thought suppression, emotion regulation, attention control) and of social behaviors (i.e., helping behavior, coping with thoughts of death, stifling prejudice during an interracial interaction) showed that (a) acts of self-control reduced blood glucose levels, (b) low levels of blood glucose after an initial self-control task predicted poor performance on a subsequent self-control task, and (c) initial acts of self-control impaired performance on subsequent self-control tasks, but consuming a glucose drink eliminated these impairments. Self-control requires a certain amount of glucose to operate unimpaired. A single act of self-control causes glucose to drop below optimal levels, thereby impairing subsequent attempts at self-control.
SourceAvailable from: Paul Robert Gladden
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ABSTRACT: Recent research has found that ego-depletion undermines self-control by motivating cognition that justifies conservation of mental resource. One potential cognitive mechanism is reduction of self-efficacy. Specifically, we propose that ego-depletion might demotivate self-control by making people believe that they are inefficacious in exerting self-control in subsequent tasks. Three experiments support the proposal. First, we demonstrated that (a) ego-depletion can reduce self-efficacy to exert further control (Experiments 1 to 3) and (b) the temporary reduction of self-efficacy mediates the effect of depletion on self-control performance (Experiment 2). Finally, we found that (c) these effects are only observed among participants who endorse a limited (versus non-limited) theory of willpower and are, hence, more motivated to conserve mental resources (Experiment 3). Taken together, the present findings show that decrease in self-efficacy to exert further self-control is an important cognitive process that explains how ego-depletion demotivates self-control. This research also contributes to the recent discussion of the psychological processes underlying ego-depletion.European Journal of Social Psychology 05/2015; DOI:10.1002/ejsp.2120 · 1.78 Impact Factor
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 07/2014; 31(5):630-650. DOI:10.1177/0265407514525887 · 1.29 Impact Factor