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Front Psychol. 2014 Jun 24;5:647. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00647. eCollection 2014.

"When the going gets tough, who keeps going?" Depletion sensitivity moderates the ego-depletion effect.

Author information

1
Department of Marketing, University of Groningen Groningen, Netherlands ; Clinical and Health Psychology Department, Utrecht University Utrecht, Netherlands.
2
Clinical and Health Psychology Department, Utrecht University Utrecht, Netherlands.
3
Strategic Communication Chairgroup, Wageningen University Wageningen, Netherlands.
4
Department of Marketing, University of Groningen Groningen, Netherlands.

Abstract

Self-control relies on a limited resource that can get depleted, a phenomenon that has been labeled ego-depletion. We argue that individuals may differ in their sensitivity to depleting tasks, and that consequently some people deplete their self-control resource at a faster rate than others. In three studies, we assessed individual differences in depletion sensitivity, and demonstrate that depletion sensitivity moderates ego-depletion effects. The Depletion Sensitivity Scale (DSS) was employed to assess depletion sensitivity. Study 1 employs the DSS to demonstrate that individual differences in sensitivity to ego-depletion exist. Study 2 shows moderate correlations of depletion sensitivity with related self-control concepts, indicating that these scales measure conceptually distinct constructs. Study 3 demonstrates that depletion sensitivity moderates the ego-depletion effect. Specifically, participants who are sensitive to depletion performed worse on a second self-control task, indicating a stronger ego-depletion effect, compared to participants less sensitive to depletion.

KEYWORDS:

depletion sensitivity; ego-depletion; individual differences; self-control; self-control endurance

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