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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2006 Sep;91(3):524-37.

Conserving self-control strength.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, NY 12222, USA.


Individuals may be motivated to limit their use of self-control resources, especially when they have depleted some of that resource. Expecting to need self-control strength in the future should heighten the motivation to conserve strength. In 4 experiments, it was found that depleted participants who anticipated exerting self-control in the future performed more poorly in an intervening test of self-control than participants who were not depleted, and more poorly than those who did not expect to exert self-control in the future. Conversely, those who conserved strength performed better on tasks that they conserved the strength for as compared with those who did not conserve. The underlying economic or conservation of resource model sheds some light on the operation of self-control strength.

((c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

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