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Abstract

Research suggests that two, consecutive acts of self-control lead to impaired performance. This phenomenon is termed "ego depletion." It is assumed that an act of self-control consumes energy from some limited resource leaving less energy available for a subsequent act of self-control. Study 1 tested the alternative hypothesis that people's naïve theory or expectancy of the consequences of self-control influences their performance on control-demanding tasks. Participants watched an upsetting video fragment and subsequently performed a physical exercise test demanding self-control. Participants who suppressed their emotional reactions to the video showed ego-depletion: Their performance at the physical test decreased. However, if their (implicit) expectation that self-control negatively influences subsequent performance was challenged, their performance increased. Study 2 showed the existence of a dominant expectation that self-control consumes energy. These results indicate that the occurrence of the ego depletion phenomenon is strongly influenced by expectancies or schemata about self-control.
... Interestingly, self-control appears to moderate the relationship between emotion regulation and human performance. Such moderation generally derives from the individual's personal reaction to emotional experiences (for details, see Martijn et al., 2002). It is also worth noting that the conscious suppression of emotions may initiate a cascade of psychophysical and cognitive reactions that will ultimately impact upon the neural control of the musculature and disrupt endurance performance. ...
... When you experience these emotions while watching the video do not react, i.e., suppress your emotional reaction, in such a way that other people cannot perceive what you are feeling." (Martijn et al., 2002). The experimenters observed the participant through an unobtrusive window to react quickly only if the participant indicated that the video should be stopped. ...
Article
This study investigated the extent to which mental fatigue and emotional suppression affected exercise endurance. Twelve participants performed cycling endurance tests at 80% of their peak power up to the point of exhaustion. Two experimental conditions (mental fatigue [MF] and emotion suppression conditions [ES]) and a control condition (CO) were administered. Participants responded to psychological measures throughout the exercise trials. Both MF and ES conditions hindered exercise performance relative to the CO, and there was no statistically significant difference between the negative effects of both MF and ES conditions. Of note, however, higher levels of subjective fatigue were reported in MF, prior to commencing the exercise test. High cognitive loads that induce MF and/or engaging in ES may reduce high intensity endurance exercise performance among young adults, but further research with greater numbers of participants is needed to replicate and extend these findings.
... This imbalance entails the judgment that the amount of resources consumed during an interaction is higher than the recovered input. Experimental evidence suggests that individuals' beliefs and expectations regarding the amount of self-regulation resource left by the regulation of emotions contribute to explaining their level of emotional exhaustion [36][37][38]. When the expectation that resources are abundant after the regulation of emotion is primed, the level of exhaustion remains stable, contrary to when the idea that resources are scarce is primed [38]. ...
... Experimental evidence suggests that individuals' beliefs and expectations regarding the amount of self-regulation resource left by the regulation of emotions contribute to explaining their level of emotional exhaustion [36][37][38]. When the expectation that resources are abundant after the regulation of emotion is primed, the level of exhaustion remains stable, contrary to when the idea that resources are scarce is primed [38]. ...
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Previous research has shown that surface acting—displaying an emotion that is dissonant with inner feelings—negatively impacts employees’ well-being. However, most studies have neglected the meaning that employees develop around emotional demands requiring surface acting. This study examined how employees’ responsibility attributions of client behavior demanding surface acting influence employees’ emotional exhaustion, and the mediational role of distributive justice in this relationship. Relying on Fairness Theory, it was expected that employees’ responsibility attributions of client behavior demanding emotion regulation would be related to their perceptions of distributive injustice during the service encounter, which in turn would mediate the effects of responsibility attribution on emotional exhaustion. In addition, drawing on the conservation of resources model, we contended that leader support would moderate the impact of distributive injustice on emotional exhaustion. Two scenario-based experiments were conducted. Study 1 (N = 187) manipulated the attribution of responsibility for emotional demands. The findings showed that distributive injustice and emotional exhaustion were higher when responsibility for the surface acting demands was attributed to the client. A bootstrapping mediational analysis confirmed employees’ attributions have an indirect effect on emotional exhaustion through distributive justice. Study 2 (N = 227) manipulated responsibility attribution and leader support. The leader support moderation effect was confirmed.
... Most important, further research indicated that psychological and motivational factors strongly influence this after-effect in addition to possible physiological mechanisms. Evidence Perceived Resources, Cognitive Control, and Pain 5 revealed that incentives (Muraven & Slessareva, 2003), positive affect (Tice, Baumeister, Shmueli, & Muraven, 2007), lay believes about limited or unlimited resources (Job et al., 2010), perceived resource depletion (Clarkson, Hirt, Jia, & Alexander, 2010), and expectancies about the impact of depletion (Martijn, Tenbült, Merckelbach, Dreezens, & de Vries, 2002) can influence the impact of a first demanding task on a subsequent one. ...
... Beside these conceptual issues, the present findings offer additional evidence for the impact of perception in the sequential task paradigm. This is in line with the previous studies of Clarkson et al. (2010) et Martijn et al. (2002), while focusing on perceived available resources rather than on perceived depletion and expectancies about the impact of depletion, respectively. ...
Article
In two experiments, we investigated the impact of perceived available cognitive resources using a sequential-task paradigm. First, participants worked on an easy or difficult cognitive task. Then, they received a cue suggesting that their cognitive resources were still optimal or they did not receive any information on their resources. Subsequently, they worked on a second difficult cognitive task (Experiment 1) or received painful electrical stimulations (Experiment 2). We predicted that the cue on optimal resources would neutralize the effect of the first difficult task on subsequent cognitive performance and pain. Overall, results supported our predictions. We interpret these findings as showing an important role of perceived available resources in the after-effect induced by the sequential-task paradigm.
... If basic and necessary processes all consume resources, or have a limited capacity, how can any sustained behavior or phenomenon exist? Furthermore, in experimental settings, these resource depletion models cannot explain invigorated performance after additional incentives , improved performance during more challenging tasks , eliminated "depletion" effects when limited resource beliefs are negated (Job, Dweck, & Walton, 2010;Martijn, Tenbült, Merckelbach, Dreezens, & de Vries, 2002), or consistently maintained performance in non-human animals performing a 40-minute vigilance task . These shortcomings of the resource depletion model, in addition to lacking rejectable hypotheses, demand other theories and conceptualizations of effort and performance to better capture the phenomenology and underlying neural mechanisms mediating effortful performance. ...
Thesis
Attention is critical for interacting with our dynamic cue-rich environments and consequently attentional deficits can escalate to yield incapacitating disorders. In order to develop rational treatments for the attentional instabilities that typify a wide range of brain disorders, it is crucial that we determine the validity of behavioral tasks used to reveal neurobehavioral and neurocognitive mechanisms of attention in both rodent models and healthy and impaired humans. Measures of behavioral performance from tasks with little or uncertain validity yield misleading neuro-behavioral mappings that offer little translational utility. Here, we assessed the construct validity of a common rodent attentional task, the Sustained Attention Task (SAT), examined competing models for the psychological mechanisms which mediate effects of performance challenges thought to tax attentional resources or effort, and determined individual differences in the neurobiological and cognitive mechanisms for SAT performance. Dominant conceptualizations about the psychological nature of the SAT have assumed that it necessitates “top-down”, or goal-directed, attentional control for the successful detection of relatively rare stimuli. The work presented in this dissertation challenges the assumption that in all individuals, SAT engages “top-down” attentional mechanisms. Specifically, animals with relatively “hot” cognitive-motivational styles (sign-trackers), prone to attributing incentive motivational properties to reward predictive cues, engage perceptual, but not cholinergic-attentional mechanisms to respond to salient cues in SAT. Next, we examined the cognitive mechanisms underlying task decline or maintenance in SAT, particularly in the face of challenges. To this aim we tested two competing models of effortful performance: the resource depletion model and the opportunity cost model. The former proposes that performance on tasks, such as the SAT, declines over time as a function of consumed biological and psychological resources. However, this model fails to explain a number of critical features of effortful performance and can be methodologically irrefutable. Alternatively, the opportunity cost model is computationally accessible, proposing that task performance declines as a result of subjective feelings of effort arising from cost/benefit calculations for the value of staying on task versus switching to an alternate action. We employed SAT manipulations proposed to alter the demands on task-related processing resources versus opportunity costs associated with task maintenance in opposing directions. Male and female rats trained to SAT criterion performed four versions of SAT: with a flashing house light distractor (dSAT), dSAT with a rest period from task performance, with blocks where the intertrial interval (ITI) is shortened, and with blocks where the ITI is lengthened. Importantly, the two competing theoretical perspectives predict opposed outcomes of these task manipulations: long ITIs should not tax attentional resources, but they should be neutral to or elevate opportunity costs. Conversely, shorter ITIs are thought to tax processing resources but may be neutral with respect to, or even decrease, opportunity costs. The rest period during dSAT is proposed to offer relief and restoration for consumed resources while remaining neutral to opportunity costs. The results from these manipulations were not consistent with a resource depletion account of task maintenance nor did they conform to predictions set by the opportunity cost model. Collectively, the data presented in this dissertation have established a research program designed to determine the construct validity of SAT, to test competing psychological theories about the mechanisms involved in the response to task manipulations, and further examined individual differences in attentional strategies.
... The final challenge to the strength model involves studies that have manipulated people's beliefs and perceptions. That is, when people believe willpower is unlimited (Job et al., 2010(Job et al., , 2013(Job et al., , 2015Martijn et al., 2002) or feel invigorated following self-regulatory exertion (Clarkson et al., 2010), typical ego depletion effects are not observed. ...
Preprint
Over the past decade there has been considerable research into the effects of prior cognitive exertion on subsequent self-regulation of sport and exercise performance. In this chapter we provide an overview of how this body of literature has developed amongst two parallel, yet separate perspectives - self-control and mental fatigue – and where it currently stands. The prominent theories in the field are discussed and areas that warrant further investigation moving forward are highlighted. This includes discussion of factors known to mediate and moderate this relationship, and future directions that will help us elucidate underlying mechanisms.
... The final challenge to the strength model involves studies that have manipulated people's beliefs and perceptions. That is, when people believe willpower is unlimited (Job et al., 2010(Job et al., , 2013(Job et al., , 2015Martijn et al., 2002) or feel invigorated following self-regulatory exertion (Clarkson et al., 2010), typical ego depletion effects are not observed. ...
... Literature on the wellbeing of Primary Health Care physicians identifies that the treatment of Frequent Attender patients (FA) causes diminished wellbeing and satisfaction on General Practitioners (Elder, Ricer, & Tobias, 2006;Epstein et al., 2006;Jackson & Kroenke, 1999;Krebs, Garrett, & Konrad, 2006;Mas Garriga et al., 2003). ...
Article
Introduction The presence of Medically Unexplained Symptoms and a high Frequency of Attendance negatively affects the General Practitioners’ (GP) wellbeing. Although, overlapping between both phenomena is partial, with a number of frequent attenders reporting medically unexplained symptoms during consultation, there is no evidence on how GP's well-being it is affected by the specific main effects of these factors and their interaction. Evidence is also scant on the psychological processes explaining the negative impact of attendance and the etiology of symptoms on GP's wellbeing. Objective Drawing on the Job Demand-Control and the Conservation of Resource stress models, this paper tests the moderating effects of the GP’ perception of patient's attendance and etiology of symptoms on the relationship between patient's demands and feedback on the GP's wellbeing. Method A total of 105 volunteer GPs self-reported on the study variables through an experience sampling methodology after 898 patients’ consultation. Patients attendance and etiology of symptoms were categorized according to the physician self-perception and an external criterion (organizational records). Results Perception of Patients Frequent Attendance and Medically Unexplained Symptoms were positively related to physician's Emotional Exhaustion. Contrary to expected the test of the moderation effects of patients characteristics on the relation between patient's demands and feedback and the GP's emotional exhaustion were stronger for normal attenders compared with frequent attenders. An ad hoc study shows this unexplained result is related to the GP's expectations on Frequent vs. normal attenders’ behaviors. No significant results were found when the external criterion of classification was used. Conclusion Combined analysis of Frequency of Attendance and Etiology of Symptoms lead to a better understanding of the GP's decreased wellbeing. Also, the perception of the strain level (demands/positive feedback levels) associated to the consultation with different types of patients contribute to explain the consequences for the GP's wellbeing, especially when GP's expectations on patient's behaviors are violated.
... The final challenge to the strength model involves studies that have manipulated people's beliefs and perceptions. That is, when people believe willpower is unlimited (Job et al., 2010(Job et al., , 2013(Job et al., , 2015Martijn et al., 2002) or feel invigorated following self-regulatory exertion (Clarkson et al., 2010), typical ego depletion effects are not observed. ...
... The first modern 1 studies to investigate whether prior cognitive exertion influences physical performance were conducted by researchers in the area of self-control or ego depletion from the perspective of the resource or strength model of self-control [6][7][8]. Self-control is defined as one's ability to override and alter unwanted behavioral, emotional and cognitive responses to align with standards or goals [9]. The term "ego depletion" refers to a phenomenon in which people have an increased susceptibility to self-control failure due to prior engagement in a task requiring self-control [9]. ...
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Background An emerging body of the literature in the past two decades has generally shown that prior cognitive exertion is associated with a subsequent decline in physical performance. Two parallel, but overlapping, bodies of literature (i.e., ego depletion, mental fatigue) have examined this question. However, research to date has not merged these separate lines of inquiry to assess the overall magnitude of this effect. Objective The present work reports the results of a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis examining carryover effects of cognitive exertion on physical performance. Methods A systematic search of MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and SPORTDiscus was conducted. Only randomized controlled trials involving healthy humans, a central executive task requiring cognitive exertion, an easier cognitive comparison task, and a physical performance task were included. Results A total of 73 studies provided 91 comparisons with 2581 participants. Random effects meta-analysis showed a significant small-to-medium negative effect of prior cognitive exertion on physical performance (g = − 0.38 [95% CI − 0.46, − 0.31]). Subgroup analyses showed that cognitive tasks lasting < 30-min (g = − 0.45) and ≥ 30-min (g = − 0.30) have similar significant negative effects on subsequent physical performance. Prior cognitive exertion significantly impairs isometric resistance (g = − 0.57), motor (g = − 0.57), dynamic resistance (g = − 0.51), and aerobic performance (g = − 0.26), but the effects on maximal anaerobic performance are trivial and non-significant (g = 0.10). Studies employing between-subject designs showed a medium negative effect (g = − 0.65), whereas within-subject designs had a small negative effect (g = − 0.28). Conclusion Findings demonstrate that cognitive exertion has a negative effect on subsequent physical performance that is not due to chance and suggest that previous meta-analysis results may have underestimated the overall effect.
Article
Prior self-control exertion is consistently reported to cause decrements in subsequent physical performance. However, research into the explanatory mechanisms underpinning the effect is limited and has not been assessed under a meta-analytical lens. Therefore, the present study reports a meta-analysis examining the effects of self-control exertion on subsequent physical performance, as well as the mechanisms underpinning the effect. A systematic search of relevant databases was conducted to identify studies that utilized the sequential task paradigm, involving self-control manipulations lasting 30 minutes or less, and examined an aspect of physical performance. Random effects meta-analysis demonstrated that the prior exertion of self-control resulted in a statistically significant medium sized negative effect of prior self-control exertion on subsequent physical performance (g = −0.55). Further analysis revealed a small increase in initial perceptions of pain (g = 0.18) and a medium sized reduction in self-efficacy (g = −0.48), while motivation and RPE were unaffected following the exertion of self-control. The present study provides a novel insight into the mechanisms underpinning the effects of prior self-control exertion on subsequent physical performance. Initial perceptions of pain and self-efficacy appear important mechanisms and thus could be targeted in future interventions aimed at attenuating the effects of self-control exertion to enhance subsequent physical performance.
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Two experiments investigated the possible effects of memory-enhancing and memory-impairing placebo capsules (which participants believed to contain active drugs) on participants' performance in a delayed free recall task. In both experiments participants were randomly assigned to either control, positive, or negative placebo conditions, and their memory performance was tested prior to (baseline trial) and after (test trial) the administration of the placebo. Different patterns of results emerged for positive and negative placebos for actual memory performance measures. Whereas negative placebo produces standard placebo effects by impairing both free recall and accuracy scores on test trial, positive placebo does not affect either of these measures (null placebo effect). On the other hand, both positive and negative placebos produce standard placebo effects with respect to participants' self-reports of perceived changes in memory performance: those in the positive placebo group tend to report that the “drug” improved their performance, and those in the negative group tend to report that it impaired it.
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The theoretical distinction between goal intentions ("I intend to achieve -c") and implementation intentions ("I intend to perform goal-directed behavior y when I encounter situation z"; P. M. Gollwitzer, 1993) is explored by assessing the completion rate of various goal projects. In correlational Study 1, difficult goal intentions were completed about 3 times more often when participants had furnished them with implementation intentions. In experimental Study 2, all participants were assigned the same difficult goal intention, and half were instructed to form implementation intentions. The beneficial effects of implementation intentions paralleled diose of Study 1. In experimental Study 3, implementation intentions were observed to facilitate the immediate initiation of goaldirected action when the intended opportunity was encountered. Implementation intentions are interpreted to be powerful self-regulatory tools for overcoming the typical obstacles associated with the initiation of goal-directed actions.
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Choice, active response, self-regulation, and other volition may all draw on a common inner resource. In Experiment 1, people who forced themselves to eat radishes instead of tempting chocolates subsequently quit faster on unsolvable puzzles than people who had not had to exert self-control over eating. In Experiment 2, making a meaningful personal choice to perform attitude-relevant behavior caused a similar decrement in persistence. In Experiment 3, suppressing emotion led to a subsequent drop in performance of solvable anagrams. In Experiment 4, an initial task requiring high self-regulation made people more passive (i.e., more prone to favor the passive-response option). These results suggest that the self's capacity for active volition is limited and that a range of seemingly different, unrelated acts share a common resource.
Article
The mental control of mood and mood-related thought was investigated. In Experiment 1, Ss reminiscing about a happy or sad event were asked to make their mood positive, were given no instructions, or were asked to make their mood negative. Ss attempting mood control without an imposed cognitive load were successful, whereas those who attempted control while rehearsing a 9-digit number not only failed to control their moods but also showed self-reported mood change opposite the mood they intended to create. In Experiment 2, Ss attempting to control mood-related thoughts under cognitive load showed increased accessibility of those thoughts contrary to the direction of intended control in a Stroop-type color-naming task.
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Making choices, responding actively instead of passively, restraining impulses, and other acts of self-control and volition all draw on a common resource that is limited and renewable, akin to strength or energy. After an act of choice or self-control, the self's resources have been expended, producing the condition of ego depletion. In this state, the self is less able to function effectively, such as by regulating itself or exerting volition. Effects of ego depletion appear to reflect an effort to conserve remain ing resources rather than full exhaustion, although in principle full exhaustion is possible. This versatile but limited resource is crucial to the self's optimal functioning, and the pervasive need to conserve it may result in the commonly heavy reliance on habit, routine, and automatic processes.
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After reading vignettes, a group of spider-phobic girls (n=18) and a group of nonphobic girls (n=18) rated the subjective probability of spiders entering their private living space, their tendency to approach and make physical contact, and the subjective probability of spiders doing physical harm. In addition, they indicated their eagerness to eat a favorite food item before as well as after it had been shortly contacted by spiders. In support of the idea that spider phobia results from the convergence of spiders’ disgusting properties and the subjective probability of involuntary contact, phobic girls reported relatively high ratings concerning: (a) the probability of spiders entering their room; (b) spiders’ tendency to approach and make physical contact; and (c) spiders’ disgust-evoking status. Finally, regression analysis indicated that spiders’ disgust-evoking status is the single best predictor of spider phobia, whereas the independent contribution of the perceived probability of spiders doing physical harm was found to be negligible. All in all, the present findings strongly support the idea that spider phobia essentially reflects a fear of physical contact with a disgusting stimulus.
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Explored the role of attentional processes in voluntary delay of reward by manipulating children's attention to the rewards for which they were waiting in a delay-of-gratification paradigm. 32 preschool children waited for a preferred but delayed reward while facing either the delayed reward, a less preferred but immediately available reward, both rewards, or no rewards. The dependent measure was the amount of time they waited for the preferred outcome before forfeiting it for the sake of the less desired but immediately available one. Results contradict predictions from psychodynamic theory and from speculations concerning self-instructions during time binding. Unexpectedly, but in accord with frustrative nonreward theory, voluntary waiting time was substantially increased when Ss could not attend to rewards during the waiting period. Implications are discussed for a theory of the development of delay of gratification. (22 ref.) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
If self-regulation conforms to an energy or strength model, then self-control should be impaired by prior exertion. In Study 1, trying to regulate one's emotional response to an upsetting movie was followed by a decrease in physical stamina. In Study 2, suppressing forbidden thoughts led to a subsequent tendency to give up quickly on unsolvable anagrams. In Study 3, suppressing thoughts impaired subsequent efforts to control the expression of amusement and enjoyment. In Study 4, autobiographical accounts of successful versus failed emotional control linked prior regulatory demands and fatigue to self-regulatory failure. A strength model of self-regulation fits the data better than activation, priming, skill, or constant capacity models of self-regulation.
Article
This study examined the effects of emotional suppression, a form of emotion regulation defined as the conscious inhibition of emotional expressive behavior while emotionally aroused. Ss (43 men and 42 women) watched a short disgust-eliciting film while their behavioral, physiological, and subjective responses were recorded. Ss were told to watch the film (no suppression condition) or to watch the film while behaving "in such a way that a person watching you would not know you were feeling anything" (suppression condition). Suppression reduced expressive behavior and produced a mixed physiological state characterized by decreased somatic activity and decreased heart rate, along with increased blinking and indications of increased sympathetic nervous system activity (in other cardiovascular measures and in electrodermal responding). Suppression had no impact on the subjective experience of emotion. There were no sex differences in the effects of suppression.