Michael Inzlicht

Michael Inzlicht
University of Toronto | U of T · Department of Psychology

PhD

About

254
Publications
184,469
Reads
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15,746
Citations
Citations since 2017
130 Research Items
10525 Citations
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201720182019202020212022202305001,0001,5002,000
201720182019202020212022202305001,0001,5002,000
Introduction
Michael is a social psychologist and neuroscientist based out of the University of Toronto.
Additional affiliations
January 2012 - present
Virginia Commonwealth University
January 2012 - present
Clarkson University
January 2010 - December 2011
The University of York
Position
  • York University

Publications

Publications (254)
Article
Self-regulation has been conceptualized as the interplay between controlled and impulsive processes; however, most research has focused on the controlled side (i.e., effortful self-control). The present studies focus on the effects of motivation on impulsive processes, including automatic preferences for goal-disruptive stimuli and subjective repor...
Article
Full-text available
There has been a rush of research on self-control in the past decade. And it is no wonder: Self-control is thought to underlie an impressive array of behavior, and its fail-ure, the root of societal ills ranging from financial debt to marital infidelity, from obesity to criminality (Baumeister, Heatherton, & Tice, 1994). Self-control—known colloqui...
Article
Full-text available
Often seen as the paragon of higher cognition, here we suggest that cognitive control is dependent on emotion. Rather than asking whether control is influenced by emotion, we ask whether control itself can be understood as an emotional process. Reviewing converging evidence from cybernetics, animal research, cognitive neuroscience, and social and p...
Article
Self-control refers to the mental processes that allow people to override thoughts and emotions, thus enabling behavior to vary adaptively from moment to moment. Dominating contemporary research on this topic is the viewpoint that self-control relies upon a limited resource, such that engaging in acts of restraint depletes this inner capacity and u...
Article
Full-text available
Although the psychological benefits of mindfulness training on emotion regulation are well-documented, the precise mechanisms underlying these effects remain unclear. In the present account, we propose a new linkage between mindfulness and improved emotion regulation—one that highlights the role played by executive control. Specifically, we suggest...
Preprint
Full-text available
The relationship between political ideology and brain activity has captured the fascination of scientists and the public alike. Using approaches from cognitive neuroscience to provide insights into deeply held and personal beliefs requires careful navigation, with the application of robust methods that generate replicable results. A hallmark study...
Article
After‐effects on cognition—where a prior activity either benefits or hinders subsequent cognitive performance—are empirically inconsistent. Do people have insight into when their subjective energy and cognition will be helped or hurt by engaging in prior activities? Studies 1a and 1b (combined N = 316) find that people expect more demanding and une...
Article
People often dislike effort and avoid it when they can, but effort can also imbue tasks with meaning. This is the case for real-life tasks, but also novel tasks devoid of true purpose. Why does effort feel meaningful, under what conditions, and for whom?
Preprint
Full-text available
Effort is aversive and often avoided, even when earning benefits for oneself. Yet, people sometimes work hard for others. How do people decide who is worth their effort? Prior work shows people avoid physical effort for strangers relative to themselves, but invest more physical effort for charity. Here, we find that people avoid cognitive effort fo...
Article
The empathy selection task is a novel behavioral paradigm designed to assess an individual’s willingness to engage in empathy. Work with this task has demonstrated that people prefer to avoid empathy when some other activity is available, though individual differences that might predict performance on this task have been largely unexamined. Here, w...
Article
People tend to avoid exerting cognitive effort, and findings from recent behavioral studies suggest that effort allocation is in part determined by the opportunity cost of slothful responding—operationalized as the average reward rate per unit time. When the average rate of reward is high, individuals make more errors in cognitive control tasks, pr...
Preprint
The empathy selection task is a novel behavioral paradigm designed to assess an individual’s willingness to engage in empathy. Work with this task has demonstrated that people prefer to avoid empathy when some other activity is available, though individual differences that might predict performance on this task have been largely unexamined. Here, w...
Article
Full-text available
Self-regulation has been studied across levels of analysis; however, little attention has been paid to the extent to which self-report, neural, and behavioral indices predict goal pursuit in real-life. We use a mixed-method approach (N = 201) to triangulate evidence among established measures of different aspects of self-regulation to predict both...
Preprint
Self-regulation has been studied across levels of analysis; however, little attention has been paid to the extent to which self-report, neural, and behavioral indices predict goal pursuit in real-life. We used a mixed-method approach (N=201) to triangulate evidence among established measures of different aspects of self-regulation to predict both t...
Preprint
Full-text available
People tend to avoid exerting cognitive effort, and findings from recent behavioral studies suggest that effort allocation is in part determined by the opportunity cost of time. When the opportunity cost of time is high-operationalized as relatively high experienced average reward rate per unit time-individuals make more errors in cognitive control...
Article
Full-text available
Across nine studies (N = 1672), we assessed the link between cognitive costs and the choice to express outrage by blaming. We developed the Blame Selection Task, a binary free-choice paradigm that examines individuals’ propensity to blame transgressors (versus an alternative choice)—either before or after reading vignettes and viewing images of mor...
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Full-text available
Inhibition is considered an essential process to goal pursuit and as a result has become a central construct in many disciplines in psychology and adjacent fields. Despite a century’s worth of debate, however, there is little consensus about what inhibition actually is. We suggest it is time to abandon the concept of inhibition as it currently stan...
Article
Full-text available
While the importance of social affect and cognition is indisputable throughout the adult lifespan, findings of how empathy and prosociality develop and interact across adulthood are mixed and real-life data are scarce. Research using ecological momentary assessment recently demonstrated that adults commonly experience empathy in daily life. Further...
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Full-text available
The asymmetry hypothesis of counteractive control theory suggests that—at least for successful self-regulators—exposure to temptations facilitates the accessibility of goal-related cognitive constructs, whereas exposure to goals inhibits the accessibility of temptation-related cognitive constructs. Using a lexical decision task, Fishbach et al., 20...
Preprint
Humans and other animals find mental (and physical) effort aversive and have the fundamental drive to avoid it. However, exerting no effort, doing nothing, is also aversive: it leads to boredom. Here, we ask whether people choose to exert effort when the alternative is to do nothing at all. Across nine studies, participants completed variants of th...
Article
Full-text available
People generally prefer easier over more difficult mental tasks. Using two different adaptations of a demand selection task, we show that interest can influence this effect, such that participants choose options with a higher cognitive workload. Interest was also associated with lower feelings of fatigue. In two studies, participants ( N = 63 and N...
Preprint
While the importance of social affect and cognition is indisputable throughout the adult lifespan, findings of how empathy and prosociality develop and interact across adulthood are mixed, and real-life data are scarce. Research using ecological momentary assessment recently demonstrated that adults commonly experience empathy in daily life. Furthe...
Preprint
Full-text available
While the importance of social affect and cognition is indisputable throughout the adult lifespan, findings of how empathy and prosociality develop and interact across adulthood are mixed, and real-life data are scarce. Research using ecological momentary assessment recently demonstrated that adults commonly experience empathy in daily life. Furthe...
Article
Full-text available
We used experience sampling to examine perceptions of empathy in the everyday lives of a group of 246 U.S. adults who were quota sampled to represent the population on key demographics. Participants reported an average of about nine opportunities to empathize per day; these experiences were positively associated with prosocial behavior, a relations...
Article
Empathy has many benefits. When we are willing to empathize, we are more likely to act prosocially (and receive help from others in the future), to have satisfying relationships, and to be viewed as moral actors. Moreover, empathizing in certain contexts can actually feel good, regardless of the content of the emotion itself—for example, we might f...
Article
Any analysis of self-regulation that focuses solely on willpower in conflict-laden situations is insufficient. Research makes clear that the best way to reach one's goal is not to resist temptations but to avoid temptations before they arrive; it further suggests that willpower is fragile and not to be relied on; and that the best self-regulators e...
Preprint
Full-text available
Decision conflicts may arise when the costs and benefits of choices are evaluated as a function of outcomes predicted along a temporal dimension. When economic binary alternatives are offered in the present or in the future (e.g. Do you prefer 5€ now or 15€ in 120 days) people may show different decision strategies depending on how sensitive they a...
Article
Full-text available
There is growing awareness across the neuroscience community that the replicability of findings on the relationship between brain activity and cognitive phenomena can be improved by conducting studies with high statistical power that adhere to well-defined and standardized analysis pipelines. Inspired by efforts from the psychological sciences, and...
Preprint
Navigating through everyday life requires us to make series of choices involving effort: Isit worth the effort for what I want to accomplish? Effort-based decision making depends on evaluating the value of effort-related costs against potential rewards, and only when the rewards outweigh their effort costs do effortful behaviors tend to get carried...
Preprint
Full-text available
Lack of self-control has been theorized to predict an individual’s likelihood to engage in antisocial behaviors such as impulsive aggression upon provocation, but existing measures have not allowed for the specific examination of costly, reactive aggression. We introduce a novel paradigm, the Retaliate or Carry-on: Reactive AGgression Experiment (R...
Article
Compassion—the warm, caregiving emotion that emerges from witnessing the suffering of others—has long been considered an important moral emotion for motivating and sustaining prosocial behavior. Some suggest that compassion draws from empathic feelings to motivate prosocial behavior, while others try to disentangle these processes to examine their...
Preprint
Compassion—the warm, caregiving emotion that emerges from witnessing the suffering of others—has long been considered an important moral emotion for motivating and sustaining prosocial behavior. Some suggest that compassion draws from empathic feelings to motivate prosocial behavior, while others try to disentangle these processes to examine their...
Preprint
Empathy has many benefits. When we are willing to empathize, we are more likely to act prosocially (and receive help from others in the future), to have satisfying relationships, and to be viewed as moral actors. Moreover, empathizing in certain contexts can actually feel good, regardless of the content of the emotion itself—for example, we might f...
Preprint
Full-text available
People who take on challenges and persevere longer are more likely to succeed in life. But individuals often avoid exerting effort, and there is limited experimental research investigating whether we can learn to value effort. Because existing research focuses on enhancing cognitive performance rather than increasing the value of effort, it also re...
Article
Full-text available
Researchers run experiments to test theories, search for and document phenomena, develop theories, or advise policymakers. When testing theories, experiments must be internally valid but do not have to be externally valid. However, when experiments are used to search for and document phenomena, develop theories, or advise policymakers, external val...
Article
Full-text available
The amount of mental effort we invest in a task is influenced by the reward we can expect if we perform that task well. However, some of the rewards that have the greatest potential for driving these efforts are partly determined by factors beyond one’s control. In such cases, effort has more limited efficacy for obtaining rewards. According to the...
Article
Recent years have witnessed calls for increased rigour and credibility in the cognitive and behavioural sciences, including psychophysiology. Many procedures exist to increase rigour, and among the most important is the need to increase statistical power. Achieving sufficient statistical power, however, is a considerable challenge for resource inte...
Preprint
Recent years have witnessed calls for increased rigour and credibility in the cognitive and behavioural sciences, including psychophysiology. Many procedures exist to increase rigour, and among the most important is the need to increase statistical power. Achieving sufficient statistical power, however, is a considerable challenge for resource inte...
Article
Full-text available
Replication studies in psychological science sometimes fail to reproduce prior findings. If these studies use methods that are unfaithful to the original study or ineffective in eliciting the phenomenon of interest, then a failure to replicate may be a failure of the protocol rather than a challenge to the original finding. Formal pre-data-collecti...
Preprint
Any analysis of self-regulation that focuses solely on willpower in conflict-laden situations is insufficient. Research makes clear that the best way to reach one’s goal is not to resist temptations but to avoid temptations before they arrive; it further suggests that willpower is fragile and not to be relied on; and that the best self-regulators e...
Article
Objective What strategies do people use to resist desires in their day‐to‐day life? How effective are these strategies? Do people use different strategies for different desires? This study addresses these questions using experience sampling to examine strategy use in daily life. Method Participants (N = 197, Mage = 20.4, 63% female) reported on th...
Preprint
Full-text available
There is growing awareness across the neuroscience community that the replicability of findings on the relationship between brain activity and cognitive phenomena can be improved by conducting studies with high statistical power that adhere to well-defined and standardised analysis pipelines. Inspired by efforts from the psychological sciences, and...
Article
Full-text available
We conducted a preregistered multi-laboratory project (k = 36; N = 3531) to assess the size and robustness of ego depletion effects using a novel replication method, termed the paradigmatic replication approach. Laboratories implemented one of two procedures that intended to manipulate self control and tested performance on a subsequent measure of...
Preprint
What strategies do people use to resist desires in their day-to-day life? How effective are these strategies? Do people use different strategies for different desires? This study addresses these questions using experience sampling to examine strategy use in daily life. Participants (N=197, Mage = 20.4, 63% female) reported on their use of six speci...
Article
Self-regulation is a core aspect of human functioning that helps facilitate the successful pursuit of personal goals. There has been a proliferation of theories and models describing different aspects of self-regulation both within and outside of psychology. All of these models provide insights about self-regulation, but sometimes they talk past ea...
Preprint
Full-text available
Researchers run experiments to test theories, search for and document phenomena, develop theories, or advise policymakers. When testing theories, experiments must be internally valid but do not have to be externally valid. However, when experiments are used to search for and document phenomena, develop theories, or advise policymakers, external val...
Article
Empathy often feels automatic, but variations in empathic responding suggest that, at least some of the time, empathy is affected by one's motivation to empathize in any particular circumstance. Here, we show that people can be motivated to engage in (or avoid) empathy-eliciting situations with strangers, and that these decisions are driven by subj...
Article
Full-text available
Ego depletion effects are usually examined in a sequential task paradigm in which exerting mental effort in a first task is thought to affect performance on a subsequent self-control task. A so-called ego depletion effect is observed if performance on the second task is impaired for the high demand relative to the low demand group. The present stud...
Article
Full-text available
In Experiment 5 of Albarracín et al. (2008), participants primed with words associated with action performed better on a subsequent cognitive task than did participants primed with words associated with inaction. A direct replication attempt by Frank, Kim, and Lee (2016) as part of the Reproducibility Project: Psychology (RP:P) failed to find evide...
Preprint
Full-text available
The amount of mental effort we invest in a task is influenced by the reward we can expect if we perform that task well. However, some of the rewards that have the greatest potential for driving these efforts (e.g., jobs, grants) are partly determined by factors outside of one's control. In such cases, effort has more limited efficacy for achieving...
Preprint
Empathy often feels automatic, but variations in empathic responding suggest that, at least some of the time, empathy is affected by one’s motivation to empathize in any particular circumstance. Here, we show that people can be motivated to engage in (or avoid) empathy-eliciting situations with strangers, and that these decisions are driven by subj...
Article
Many clinical neuroscience investigations have suggested that trait anxiety is associated with increased neural reactivity to mistakes in the form of an event-related potential called the error-related negativity (ERN). Several recent meta-analyses indicated that the anxiety-ERN association was of a small-to-medium effect size, however, these prior...
Preprint
Ego depletion effects are usually examined in a sequential task paradigm in which exerting mental effort in a first task is thought to affect performance on a subsequent self-control task. A so-called ego depletion effect is observed if performance on the second task is impaired for the high demand relative to the low demand group. The present stud...
Article
Full-text available
People feel tired or depleted after exerting mental effort. But even preregistered studies often fail to find effects of exerting effort on behavioral performance in the laboratory or elucidate the underlying psychology. We tested a new paradigm in four preregistered within-subjects studies (N = 686). An initial high-demand task reliably elicited v...
Preprint
Accumulating evidence indicates weak correlations between self-report and behavioral measures of the same construct. We suggest these weak correlations result from poor reliability of many behavioral measures and distinct response processes involved in the two measurement types. We also describe how researchers can benefit from appropriate use of t...
Preprint
Self-regulation is a core aspect of human functioning that helps facilitate the successful pursuit of personal goals. There has been a proliferation of theories and models describing different aspects of self-regulation both within and outside of psychology. All of these models provide insights about self-regulation, but sometimes talk past each ot...
Article
Accumulating evidence indicates weak correlations between self-report and behavioral measures of the same construct. We suggest that these weak correlations result from the poor reliability of many behavioral measures and the distinct response processes involved in the two measurement types. We also describe how researchers can benefit from appropr...
Preprint
People feel tired or depleted after exerting mental effort. But even preregistered studies often fail to find effects of exerting effort on behavioral performance in the laboratory or elucidate the underlying psychology. We tested a new paradigm in four preregistered within-subjects studies (N = 686). An initial high-demand task reliably elicited v...
Preprint
At the center of social psychology just a few years ago, ego depletion is now widely seen as a controversial topic, one of the chief victims of the replication crisis. Despite over 600 studies of apparent support, many are now asking if ego depletion is even real. Here, we comment on the articles included in this Special Issue: Ego Depletion. Speci...
Preprint
Full-text available
Over the last ten years, Oosterhof and Todorov’s valence-dominance model has emerged as the most prominent account of how people evaluate faces on social dimensions. In this model, two dimensions (valence and dominance) underpin social judgments of faces. Because this model has primarily been developed and tested in Western regions, it is unclear w...
Preprint
Replications in psychological science sometimes fail to reproduce prior findings. If replications use methods that are unfaithful to the original study or ineffective in eliciting the phenomenon of interest, then a failure to replicate may be a failure of the protocol rather than a challenge to the original finding. Formal pre-data collection peer...
Article
Empathy in medical care has been one of the focal points in the debate over the bright and dark sides of empathy. Whereas physician empathy is sometimes considered necessary for better physician–patient interactions, and is often desired by patients, it also has been described as a potential risk for exhaustion among physicians who must cope with t...
Preprint
Empathy in medical care has been one of the focal points in the debate over the bright and dark sides of empathy. Whereas physician empathy is sometimes considered necessary for better physician-patient interactions, and is often desired by patients, it also has been described as a potential risk for exhaustion among physicians who must cope with t...
Article
Full-text available
At the center of social psychology just a few years ago, ego depletion is now widely seen as a controversial topic, one of the chief victims of the replication crisis. Despite over 600 studies of apparent support, many are now asking if ego depletion is even real. Here, we comment on the articles included in this Special Issue: Ego Depletion and Se...
Article
Full-text available
Why are some actions evaluated as effortful? In the present set of experiments we address this question by examining individuals’ perception of effort when faced with a trade-off between two putative cognitive costs: how much time a task takes vs. how error-prone it is. Specifically, we were interested in whether individuals anticipate engaging in...
Article
Empathy is considered a virtue, yet it fails in many situations, leading to a basic question: When given a choice, do people avoid empathy? And if so, why? Whereas past work has focused on material and emotional costs of empathy, here, we examined whether people experience empathy as cognitively taxing and costly, leading them to avoid it. We devel...
Preprint
Many people struggle to control their use of digital devices. However, our understanding of the design mechanisms that support user self-control remains limited. In this paper, we make two contributions to HCI research in this space: first, we analyse 367 apps and browser extensions from the Google Play, Chrome Web, and Apple App stores to identify...
Preprint
Many people struggle to control their use of digital devices. However, our understanding of the design mechanisms that support user self-control remains limited. In this paper, we make two contributions to HCI research in this space: first, we analyse 367 apps and browser extensions from the Google Play, Chrome Web, and Apple App stores to identify...
Preprint
Science is hard. Yes, it leads us to truth, but it doesn’t lead us there in a straight line; instead it meanders slowly and circuitously, sometimes taking us down wrong paths altogether. But, science eventually gets it right, it eventually corrects course, finding its slow way to truth. My home discipline of psychology is now going through just suc...
Article
Full-text available
Self-control is assessed using a remarkable array of measures. In a series of five data-sets (overall N = 2,641) and a mini meta-analysis, we explored the association between canonical operationalisations of self-control: The Self-Control Scale and two measures of inhibition-related executive functioning (the Stroop and Flanker paradigms). Overall,...
Preprint
*Draft version 10/26/18 submitted for peer review. Please do not circulate or cite without author's permission* Recent research has proposed that the ‘law of less work’ holds for cognitive work (Kool, McGuire, Rosen, & Botvinick, 2010), with people preferring easier over more difficult cognitive tasks. Using two different adaptations of a demand se...
Article
Ego depletion is under scrutiny for low replicability, possibly reflecting the limited statistical power available in between-subject designs. In response, we created a within-subject, repeated-measures ego-depletion paradigm that repeatedly alternated depletion and recovery manipulations. Each manipulation was followed by measuring subjective fati...
Article
Full-text available
A growing body of work in social and affective neuroscience suggests that emotion plays an instrumental role in error monitoring processes, rather than only a moderating one. High-powered replications of studies that support this idea, however, are lacking. Here, we attempted a preregistered replication of our own study that had provided evidence f...
Preprint
Many clinical neuroscience investigations have suggested that trait anxiety is associated with increased neural reactivity to mistakes in the form of an event-related potential called the error-related negativity (ERN). Two recent meta-analyses indicated that the anxiety-ERN association was of a small-to-medium effect size (rs =.-25 and -.28), howe...
Preprint
Full-text available
A growing body of work in social and affective neuroscience suggests that emotion plays an instrumental role in error monitoring processes, rather than only a moderating one. High-powered replications of studies that support this idea, however, are lacking. Here, we attempted a preregistered replication of our own study that had provided evidence f...
Article
Successful execution of goal-directed behaviors often requires the deployment of cognitive control, which is thought to require cognitive effort. Recent theories have proposed that anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) regulates control levels by weighing the reward-related benefits of control against its effort-related costs. However, given that the sen...
Preprint
The ego-depletion effect is currently under scrutiny for low replicability, possibly reflecting the limited statistical power available in between-subject designs. In response, we created a within-subject, repeated-measures ego-depletion paradigm that repeatedly alternated depletion and recovery manipulations. Each manipulation was followed by meas...