Ego depletion and the use of mental contrasting

A. Timur Sevincer, Björn Schlier, Gabriele Oettingen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Mentally contrasting a desired future with present reality leads to goal pursuit in accordance with people’s expectations of realizing the desired future. Because mental contrasting is a purposeful self-regulation strategy that involves mental effort and complex information processing we suspected that people who are depleted or mentally fatigued are less likely to mentally contrast than those who are not. Indeed, participants who performed a depleting first task were less likely to subsequently mentally contrast about an important personal wish than those who performed a nondepleting first task. However, activating the desired future and present reality by priming (Study 1) or increasing the demand for mental contrasting by confronting participants with an impending task (Study 2) counteracted the effect of depletion on the reduced use of mental contrasting. We discuss implications for the use of mental contrasting and the strength model of self-control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)876-891
Number of pages16
JournalMotivation and Emotion
Volume39
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

Keywords

  • Content analysis
  • Ego depletion
  • Expectations
  • Mental contrasting
  • Self-regulation
  • Spontaneous thought

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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