May 19, 2014
When ego-depletion will not happen
The ego-depletion model, however, appears to be too simple.
1. The effect of mindset: mindset is about the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. A fixed mindset is the belief that certain mental entities cannot be developed; a growth mindset is the belief that they can. Much research has shown that having a fixed mindset has many disadvantages and having a growth mindset has many advantages. Baumeister's concept of ego-depletion reminds of the fixed mindset in that it suggests that there is a fixed and limited amount of energy available for self-control and will power. A longitudinal study by Job et al show that what you believe about self-control and will power affects the amount of self-control and will power you are able to exert. Their study showed that believing in the ego-depletion effect causes it to happen sooner. People who believed that will power is an abundant resource could control themselves longer, even under very demanding circumstances.
2. The effect of autonomy: research by Moller et al (2006) shows that ego-depletion does not happen for all activities. Self Determination Theory distinguishes between autonomous motivation and controlled motivation. Autonomous motivation means doing something because you find it interesting and/or you fully endorse doing it because it is concordant with your values. Controlled motivation means doing something because you feel pressured, forced or seduced to do it. Moller et al. showed that ego-depletion did happen when there was controlled motivation but not when there was autonomous motivation. When you find interesting what you do and/or it is congruent with your values, your ability to control yourself will not suffer, even under demanding circumstances.