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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2017 Oct;113(4):589-607. doi: 10.1037/pspi0000099. Epub 2017 Jun 5.

Reverse ego-depletion: Acts of self-control can improve subsequent performance in Indian cultural contexts.

Author information

1
Department of Strategy, Management, and Organisation, Cultural Science Institute, Nanyang Technological University.
2
Department of Psychology, University of Zurich.

Abstract

The strength model of self-control has been predominantly tested with people from Western cultures. The present research asks whether the phenomenon of ego-depletion generalizes to a culture emphasizing the virtues of exerting mental self-control in everyday life. A pilot study found that whereas Americans tended to believe that exerting willpower on mental tasks is depleting, Indians tended to believe that exerting willpower is energizing. Using dual task ego-depletion paradigms, Studies 1a, 1b, and 1c found reverse ego-depletion among Indian participants, such that participants exhibited better mental self-control on a subsequent task after initially working on strenuous rather than nonstrenuous cognitive tasks. Studies 2 and 3 found that Westerners exhibited the ego-depletion effect whereas Indians exhibited the reverse ego-depletion effect on the same set of tasks. Study 4 documented the causal effect of lay beliefs about whether exerting willpower is depleting versus energizing on reverse ego-depletion with both Indian and Western participants. Together, these studies reveal the underlying basis of the ego-depletion phenomenon in culturally shaped lay theories about willpower. (PsycINFO Database Record.

PMID:
28581300
DOI:
10.1037/pspi0000099
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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