Self-regulation: A challenge to the strength model

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Previous research suggested that an individual’s capacity to self-regulate is limited, and easily depleted. The strength, or resource, model posits that self-regulation operates like a muscle, fatiguing after use and requiring rest. We attempted to replicate studies that supported this model. In Experiment 1, participants completed the Stroop task (requiring self-regulation), and then squeezed a handgrip exerciser as long as they could (a measure of self-regulatory depletion). In Experiment 2, participants were instructed NOT to think about a white bear as they wrote down their thoughts; depletion was then measured by time working on difficult anagrams. Self-regulatory depletion was not evident in either study. A new model for understanding the key psychological process of self-regulation may be needed.

Original Citation

Murtagh, A. M., & Todd, S. A. (2004). Self-regulation: A challenge to the strength model. Journal of Articles in Support of the Null Hypothesis, 3(1), 19-51.