Regulation strategies and their impact on subsequent response inhibition: the moderating role of the self-control trait
More details
Hide details
Institute of Psychology, Faculty of Philosophy, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland
Submission date: 2018-09-05
Final revision date: 2019-04-09
Acceptance date: 2019-04-15
Online publication date: 2019-05-31
Publication date: 2019-06-24
Current Issues in Personality Psychology 2019;7(2):132–141
Much research has shown that effortful acts of self-control temporarily impair its subsequent exertion. The aim of our experi-ment was to examine whether this effect, called ego depletion, is influenced by application of certain strategies that help people to overcome impulses. Another purpose of our research was to investigate the role of self-control as a trait in this area. We fo-cused on amusement regulation because of its importance in everyday life.

Participants and procedure:
Participants (N = 90) completed the Self-Control Scale (NAS-50) and were then asked to rate humorous cartoons (Task 1) while inducing the following self-regulatory strategies suggested by the instructions: cognitive change, response inhibition, or none (between-subjects manipulation). Subsequently, participants performed the Stop Signal Task (Task 2).

The results indicate that the depletion effect is absent unless trait self-control is included in the analysis. We observed the interac-tion between the self-control trait and the effectiveness of the adopted self-regulatory strategy. Participants with poor self-control did not differ in their performance in Task 2, regardless of the adopted strategy. With the increase in the self-control trait, we observed differences in Task 2 that indicated that the cognitive change strategy guarded against depletion in participants with a medium level of self-control. Participants with a high self-control trait level obtained better scores in both regulatory groups, compared to the condition without any strategy.

We discuss these findings in terms of the competing explanations of the ‘ego depletion’ effect, as well as in terms of the trait versus state approach to self-control.

Baumeister, R. F., & Heatherton, T. (1996). Self-regulation failure: An overview. Psychological Inquiry, 7, 1–15.
Baumeister, R. F., & Vohs, K. D. (2007). Self-regulation, ego depletion, and motivation. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 1, 115–128.
Beedie, C. J., & Lane, A. M. (2012). The role of glucose in self-control another look at the evidence and an alternative conceptualization. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 16, 143–153.
Carter, E. C., & McCullough, M. E. (2014). Publication bias and the limited strength model of self-control: Has the evidence for ego depletion been overestimated? Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 823.
Clarkson, J. J., Hirt, E. R., Jia, L., & Alexander, M. B. (2010). When perception is more than reality: the effects of perceived versus actual resource depletion on self-regulatory behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98, 29–46.
de Ridder, D. T., Lensvelt-Mulders, G., Finkenauer, C., Stok, F. M., & Baumeister, R. F. (2012). Taking stock of self-control: A meta-analysis of how trait self-control relates to a wide range of behaviors. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 16, 76–99.
Duckworth, A. L., Gendler, T. S., & Gross, J. J. (2014). Self-control in school-age children. Educational Psychologist, 49, 199–217.
Duckworth, A. L., Gendler, T. S., & Gross, J. J. (2016). Situational strategies for self-control. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 11, 35–55.
Duckworth A. L., & Gross J. J. (2014). Self-control and grit: Related but separable determinants of success. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23, 319–325.
Duckworth, A. L., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2005). Self-discipline outdoes IQ in predicting academic performance of adolescents. Psychological Science, 16, 939–944.
Evans, D. R., Boggero, I. A., & Segerstrom, S. C. (2016). The nature of self-regulatory fatigue and “ego depletion” lessons from physical fatigue. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 20, 291–310.
Gergelyfi, M., Jacob, B., Olivier, E., & Zénon, A. (2015). Dissociation between mental fatigue and motivational state during prolonged mental activity. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 9, 1–15.
Goldin, P. R., McRae, K., Ramel, W., & Gross, J. J. (2008). The neural bases of emotion regulation: Reappraisal and suppression of negative emotion. Biological Psychiatry, 63, 577–586.
Gray, J. R. (2001). Emotional modulation of cognitive control: Approach-withdrawal states double-dissociate spatial from verbal two-back task performance. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 130, 436–452.
Gross, J. J. (1998). The emerging field of emotion regulation: an integrative review. Review of General Psychology, 2, 271–299.
Gross, J. J. (2002). Emotion regulation: Affective, cognitive, and social consequences. Psychophysiology, 39, 281–291.
Hagger, M. S., Wood, C., Stiff, C., & Chatzisarantis, N. L. (2010). Ego depletion and the strength model of self-control: a meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 495–525.
Hagger, M. S., Chatzisarantis, N. L. D., Alberts, H., Anggono, C. O., Batailler, C., Birt, A. R., … Zwienenberg, M. (2016). A multilab preregistered replication of the ego-depletion effect. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 11, 546–573.
Hayes, A. F., & Montoya, A. K. (2017) A Tutorial on testing, visualizing, and probing an interaction involving a multicategorical variable in linear regression analysis. Communication Methods and Measures, 11, 1–30.
Hockey, G. R. J. (2011). A motivational control theory of cognitive fatigue. In L. P. Ackerman (Ed.), Cognitive Fatigue: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Current Research and Future Applications (pp. 167–197). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Hofmann, W., Rauch, W., & Gawronski, B. (2007). And deplete us not into temptation: Automatic attitudes, dietary restraint, and self-regulatory resources as determinants of eating behavior. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 43, 497–504.
Hofmann, W., Schmeichel, B. J., & Baddeley, A. D. (2012). Executive functions and self-regulation. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 16, 174–180.
Hurley, M. M., Dennett, D. C., & Adams, R. B. (2013). Inside jokes. Using humor to reverse-engineer the mind. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Imhoff, R., Schmidt, A. F., & Gerstenberg, F. (2014). Exploring the interplay of trait self‐control and ego depletion: Empirical evidence for ironic effects. European Journal of Personality, 28, 413–424.
Inzlicht, M., Bartholow, B. D., & Hirsh, J. B. (2015). Emotional foundations of cognitive control. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 19, 126–132.
Inzlicht, M., & Schmeichel, B. J. (2012). What is ego depletion? Toward a mechanistic revision of the resource model of self-control. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7, 450–463.
Inzlicht, M., Schmeichel, B. J., & Macrae, C. N. (2014). Why self-control seems (but may not be) limited. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 18, 127–133.
Job, V., Dweck, C. S., & Walton, G. M. (2010). Ego depletion – Is it all in your head? Implicit theories about willpower affect self-regulation. Psychological Science, 21, 1686–1693.
Johns, M., Inzlicht, M., & Schmader, T. (2008). Stereotype threat and executive resource depletion: examining the influence of emotion regulation. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 137, 691–705.
Korb, S., Grandjean, D., Samson, A. C., Delplanque, S., & Scherer, K. R. (2012). Stop laughing! Humor perception with and without expressive suppression. Social Neuroscience, 7, 510–524.
Kurzban, R. (2010). Does the brain consume additional glucose during self-control tasks? Evolutionary Psychology, 8, 244–259.
Kurzban, R., Duckworth, A., Kable, J. W., & Myers, J. (2013). An opportunity cost model of subjective effort and task performance. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 36, 661–679.
Logan, G. D. (1994). On the ability to inhibit thought and action: A user’s guide to the stop signal paradigm. In D. Dagenbach & T. H. Carr (Eds.), Inhibitory processes in attention, memory, and language (pp. 189–239). San Diego: Academic Press.
Martin, R. A. (2001). Humor, laughter, and physical health: Methodological issues and research findings. Psychological Bulletin, 127, 504–519.
Matthews, G., Jones, D. M., & Chamberlain, A. G. (1990). Refining the measurement of mood: The UWIST Mood Adjective Checklist. British Journal of Psychology, 81, 17–42.
Milyavskaya, M., Inzlicht, M., Hope, N., & Koestner, R. (2015). Saying “no” to temptation: Want-to motivation improves self-regulation by reducing temptation rather than by increasing self-control. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 109, 677–693.
Mischel, W., Shoda, Y., & Peake, P. K. (1988). The nature of adolescent competencies predicted by preschool delay of gratification. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 687–696.
Moffitt, T. E., Arseneault, L., Belsky, D., Dickson, N., Hancox, R. J., Harrington, H., Houts, R., Poulton, R., Roberts, B. W., Ross, S., Sears, M. R., Thomson, W. M., & Caspi, A. (2011). A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108, 2693–2698.
Muraven, M., & Baumeister, R. F. (2000). Self-regulation and depletion of limited resources: Does self-control resemble a muscle? Psychological Bulletin, 126, 247–259.
Muraven, M., Baumeister, R. F., & Tice, D. M. (1999). Longitudinal improvement of self-regulation through practice: Building self-control through repeated exercise. Journal of Social Psychology, 139, 446–457.
Myrseth, K. O. R., & Fishbach, A. (2009). Self-control a function of knowing when and how to exercise restraint. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18, 247–252.
Nęcka, E., Wujcik, R., Orzechowski, J., Gruszka, A., Janik, B., Nowak, M., & Wójcik, N. (2016). NAS-50 and NAS-40: New scales for the assessment of self-control. Polish Psychological Bulletin, 47 346–355.
Nichols, A. L., & Maner, J. K. (2008). The good-subject effect: Investigating participant demand characteristics. The Journal of General Psychology, 135, 151–166.
Ochsner, K. N., & Gross, J. J. (2005). The cognitive control of emotion. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9, 242–249.
Robbins, B. D., & Vandree, K. (2009). The self-regulation of humour expression. A mixed method, phenomenological investigation of suppressed laughter. The Humanistic Psychologist, 37, 49–78.
Schmeichel, B. J. (2007). Attention control, memory updating, and emotion regulation temporarily reduce the capacity for executive control. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 136, 241–255.
Schmeichel, B. J., Caskey, R., & Hicks, J. A. (2015). Rational versus experiential processing of negative feedback reduces defensiveness but induces ego depletion. Self and Identity, 14, 75–89.
Senderecka, M., Grabowska, A., Szewczyk, J., Gerc, K., & Chmylak, R. (2012). Response inhibition of children with ADHD in the stop-signal task: An event-related potential study. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 85, 93–105.
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, 271–324.
Vrtička, P., Sander, D., & Vuilleumier, P. (2011). Effects of emotion regulation strategy on brain responses to the valence and social content of visual scenes. Neuropsychologia, 49, 1067–1082.
Weisfeld, G. E. (1993). The adaptive value of humor and laughter. Ethology and Sociobiology, 14, 141–169.