Muraven and Baumeister (2000) proposed that self-control is a limited resource akin to strength or a muscle, to deplete this limited resource leads to subsequent self-regulatory failure. Ego depletion, the temporary depletion of self-regulatory capacity by an initial act of self-control, has a significant effect in decreasing performance in self-control tasks (Hagger et.al, 2010).

I would like to know the methods to induce ego depletion, so far I only come across studies using emotional videos and thought suppression (Baumeister et.al., 2003) to achieve this cognitive process.

  1. Baumeister, R. F. (2003). Ego depletion and self‐regulation failure: A resource model of self‐control. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 27(2), 281-284. DOI: 10.1097/01.ALC.0000060879.61384.A4
  2. 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(4), 495. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0019486
  3. Muraven, M., & Baumeister, R. F. (2000). Self-regulation and depletion of limited resources: Does self-control resemble a muscle?. Psychological bulletin, 126(2), 247. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.126.2.247
  • $\begingroup$ Note that Hagger et al (2010)'s meta-analysis has since been discredited, and newer meta-analyses failed to find a strong effect of ego depletion. $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Commented Jan 5, 2022 at 0:08

1 Answer 1


In the supplemental materials (Appendix A) of the meta-analysis by Hagger et al. (2010), you can find a comprehensive taxonomy of different methods that have been used to induce ego depletion. As the table summarizes a great variety of different paradigms, I will only list a few examples of methods and papers here. The references can be found in this document.

Hagger et al. sort the methods into 3 "task spheres" depending on whether they focus more on affective or cognitive processes:

  1. Affective

    • controlling emotions - for example reading book passage aloud in emotionally expressive fashion (Gailliot, Schmeichel, & Maner, 2007, Study 1), regulating negative affect when describing a situation (Bruyneel et al., 2009, Studies 3 & 4)
    • controlling impulses - for example crossing-out-letters task (e.g., Baumeister et al., 1998, Study 4), modified Stroop task performance (e.g., Bray, Ginis, Hicks, & Woodgate, 2008), Appetizing/unappetizing food taste perception task (e.g., Baumeister et al., 1998, Study 1)
  2. Cognitive

    • controlling attention - for example focusing attention on subject and not displayed words while watching a video (e.g., DeWall et al., 2008, Study 2), arithmetic task with/without auditory interference (e.g., Alberts, Martijn, Greb, Merckelbach, & de Vries, 2007, Study 2)

    • cognitive performance - for example paced forward (low fatigue)/backward (high fatigue) counting task (e.g., Wright et al., 2007), easy/difficult labyrinths task (e.g., Alberts et al., 2007)

    • controlling thoughts - for example suppressing thoughts of death (e.g., Gailliot, Baumeister et al., 2007, Study 8), suppressing thoughts of previously-viewed emotive video (Ostafin et al., 2008)

    • choice and volition - for example making product choices (Bruyneel, Dewitte, Vohs, & Warlop, 2006), forced-choice essay task (e.g., Baumeister et al., 1998, Study 2)

  3. Affective and cognitive

    • social processing - for example, high-maintenance social interaction tasks (e.g., Finkel et al., 2006), other-race/same-race social interaction task (e.g., Richeson & Shelton, 2003)


Hagger, M. S., Wood, C., Stiff, C., & Chatzisarantis, N. L. D. (2010). Ego depletion and the strength model of self-control: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 495–525. doi:10.1037/a0019486


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