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Self-control – how does that go with lemonade?

Imagine the following: You are working on a task that requires all your concentration and demands. You will eventually complete the task with a high degree of self-control. Afterwards you should master a similarly demanding task – do you still have the necessary strength? Or do you feel depleted?

Ego Depletion

When we are depleted, our self-regulatory resources decrease. To master a second task successfully becomes much more difficult if it also demands a high level of self-control from us [1-3]. Psychologists call this effect ego depletion.

Self-control is the ‚ability to change one’s behaviour, especially to reconcile it with […] ideals, values, morals and social expectations and to support the pursuit of long-term goals‘ [1].

Not only mentally demanding tasks lead us to consume resources, but also, if we resist beloved sweets [4] or make many decisions [1]. Our resources are sufficient to cope with one of these challenges, are significantly reduced for subsequent demands where we have to control ourselves strongly [1,2]. As a consequence we become more prone to substance abuse or eating disorders [5] and our blood sugar levels drop [6].

Strengthen self-control and prevent ego depletion

There are quick and easy ways to strengthen our self-control and counteract self exhaustion. Probably the simplest tip: drink lemonade. This increases our blood sugar level and gives us the strength to cope with other tasks [6].

Humour, laughter [7], positive emotions and a positive mood [8] as well as a straight posture and the use of the non-dominant hand when performing simple activities (brushing teeth, combing hair, etc.) contribute to an increase in self-control [1].

Nevertheless, at the beginning of the day – after sufficient and restful sleep – we show less loss of self-control and less exhaustion after mentally strenuous tasks. In the course of the day self-control seems to decrease [9].

However, studies suggest we can exercise self-control despite ego depletion, namely in the case of monetary reinforcement of our behavior and performance [10]. 

There are not only external factors that influence our self-control. To reduce the ego depletion effect, it is also crucial to what extent we ourselves believe that our willpower and self-regulating resources are unlimited [11].

Identification of negative factors by CompanyMood

CompanyMood helps you to identify the factors that can weaken your resources.

Try CompanyMood now for 30 days free of charge. Our support team will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Sources

[1] Baumeister, R. F., Vohs, K. D., & Tice, D. M. (2007). The Strenghts Model of Self-Control. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16, 351–355. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8721.2007.00534.x

[2] Baumeister, R. F., Heatherton, T. F., & Tice, D. M. (1994). Losing control: How and why people fail at self regulation. San Diego, CA: Academic Press. DOI:10.1016/0272-7358(95)90149-3

[3] Inzlicht, M., & Schmeichel, B. J. (2012). What is ego depletion? Toward a mechanistic revision oft he resource model of self-control. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7, 450–463. DOI: 10.1177/1745691612454134

[4] Baumeister, R. F., Bratslavsky, E., Muraven, M., & Tice, D. M. (1998). Ego depletion: Is the active self a limited resource? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1252–1265. DOI:10.1037//0022-3514.74.5.1252

[5] Tangney, J. P., Baumeister, R. F., & Boone, A. L. (2004). High self-control predicts good adjustment, less pathology, better grades, and interpersonal success. Journal of Personality, 72, 271–322. DOI: 10.1111/j.0022-3506.2004.00263.x

[6] Gailliot, M. T., Baumeister, R. F., DeWall, C. N., Maner, J. K., Plant, E. A., & Tice, D. M. (2007). Self-control relies on glucose as a limited energy source: Willpower is more than a metaphor. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 325–336. DOI:10.1037/0022-3514.92.2.325

[7] Tice, D. M., Baumeister, R. F., Shmueli, D., & Muraven, M. (2007). Restoring the self: Positive affect helps improve self-regulation following ego depletion. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 43, 379–384. DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2006.05.007

[8] Tice, D. M., Dale, K. P., & Baumeister, R. F. (2000). Replenishing the self: Positive emotions offset the effects of ego depletion. Manuscript in preparation, Case Western Reserve University.

[9] Baumeister, R. F. (2000). Ego depletion and self-control failure: An energy model of the self’s executive function. Self and Identity, 1, 129–136. DOI:10.1080/152988602317319302

[10] Muraven, M., & Slessareva, E. (2003). Mechanisms of self-control failure: Motivation and limited resources. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 894–906. DOI: 10.1177/0146167203029007008

[11] Job, V., Dweck, C., & Walton, G. (2010). Ego depletion: Is it all in your head? Implicit theories about willpower affect self-regulation. Psychological Science, 21, 1686–1693. DOI: 10.1177/0956797610384745

Stephanie Wörz

Als Master-Psychologin mit dem Schwerpunkt der Arbeits- und Organisationspsychologie bin ich im Bereich Business Development tätig. Ich stehe meinen Kollegen bei der Entwicklung von CompanyMood mit psychologischem Fachwissen zur Seite.

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